Report: Treasury Allowed Executive Pay To Increase Beyond TARP’s Guidelines in 2012
In 2012 the U.S. Treasury Department allowed companies that received substantial amounts of taxpayer-funded bailout money in 2008 to increase executive pay beyond the Treasury’s own limits, according to a new report.
The report, issued by the Office of the Inspector General for TARP, was a follow-up to a similar report based on data from 2009-2011. The first report revealed that the Office of the Special Master for TARP Executive Compensation (OSM) was failing to follow its guidelines, which set limits on the executive pay of employees at a specific set of companies that accepted an exceptional amount of bailout funds from the Troubled Asset Relief Program.
TARP stipulates that the total compensation for Top 25 employees at these companies should target the 50th percentile for similarly situated employees at similar companies—and that cash salaries should not exceed $500,000. OSM can override these guidelines, but only for good reason.
According to the new report, in 2012 OSM approved pay increases of $3 million or more for 54 percent of the 69 Top 25 employees at AIG, GE, and Ally, the three companies the report studied; 23 percent received pay packages of $5 million or more.
By not holding the line on large cash salaries (awarding $500,000 or more to 70% of the executives under OSM’s pay- setting jurisdiction, and allowing 94% of employees to be paid cash salaries of $450,000 or more), and removing long-term, incentive-based stock as requested by the companies, OSM is effectively relinquishing some of OSM’s authority to the companies, which have their own best interests in mind.
The report goes on to reveal that OSM approved 18 of the 18 requests for pay raises, amounting to $6.8 million in raises for employees at companies which the report describes as “significantly owned by taxpayers.”
In a response to a draft of the report, OSM Acting Special Master Patricia Geoghegan said in a letter that her office has appropriately limited executive compensation at these companies, while also allowing them to remain competitive and repay the funds borrowed under TARP.
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