Ex-Merrill CEO says he has 'no knowledge' of Google search wipe

NEW YORK, July 3 Thu Jul 3, 2014 1:09pm EDT

NEW YORK, July 3 (Reuters) - E. Stanley O'Neal, the former chief executive of Merrill Lynch, said on Thursday he has "no knowledge" of an apparent effort to remove a BBC article mentioning him from Google Inc search results in Europe.

The previous day, BBC economics editor Robert Peston suggested O'Neal may have asked the search engine to exclude a 2007 blog post that mentioned him from its results under a European privacy rule.

Peston's suggestion that O'Neal had the search results tweaked came in a new blog entry posted on Wednesday. In an email to Reuters, O'Neal said "I have no knowledge of it whatsoever."

The BBC's Peston had not confirmed that O'Neal had made any request to Google. Instead, he first inferred it was O'Neal because he was the only person named in the earlier article, which described how the CEO had been ousted from Merrill after the investment bank racked up billions of dollars in losses.

Peston later updated his post to say it was "almost certain" O'Neal had not petitioned Google to remove the post. Instead, he said, it might have been another Merrill employee named in the comments section of the first article.

The European rule stems from a court ruling in May that granted citizens the "right to be forgotten." O'Neal is American.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Peston referred Reuters to his updated blog post. (Reporting by Lauren Tara LaCapra; Editing by David Gregorio)

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