Home Depot ( HD) founder Ken Langone just scored a big legal victory, but it has nothing to do with his battle with New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.

A NASD hearing panel recently dismissed charges that Langone's investment bank, Invemed, improperly profited from offering shares in hot IPOs to a group of favored clients. The hearing panel ruled that NASD regulators failed to prove that the small New York investment firm had "contravened high standards of commercial honor.''

NASD regulators had alleged that Invemed received inflated commissions from customers who received shares in hot initial public offerings.

The charges against Invemed were filed in April 2003. A few months later, Langone was again in the news, caught up in the furor over the $140 million pay package for former New York Stock Exchange Chairman Richard Grasso.

Langone, a friend of Grasso's, led the NYSE compensation committee that negotiated the terms of Grasso's pay package. When the public uproar over Grasso's payday was at its loudest in the fall of 2003, Langone was one of the most ardent defenders of the pay package.

Spitzer later named Langone as a defendant in a pending civil lawsuit that seeks to overturn the approval of that pay package by the NYSE's former board of directors. Spitzer contends Langone misled the NYSE board into approving the deal. Spitzer claims that at least $100 million of the pay is excessive and unreasonable.

Ever since the lawsuit was filed, Langone has been engaged in a high-profile feud with Spitzer. The billionaire financier has threatened to throw his support behind Spitzer's opponents in the upcoming gubernatorial election in New York.

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