December 21, 2008

Really, isn't that nice? And here, I thought they might have to give up the beachfront homes in Montauk...

Banks that are getting taxpayer bailouts awarded their top executives nearly $1.6 billion in salaries, bonuses, and other benefits last year, an Associated Press analysis reveals.

The rewards came even at banks where poor results last year foretold the economic crisis that sent them to Washington for a government rescue. Some trimmed their executive compensation due to lagging bank performance, but still forked over multimillion-dollar executive pay packages.

Benefits included cash bonuses, stock options, personal use of company jets and chauffeurs, home security, country club memberships and professional money management, the AP review of federal securities documents found.

The total amount given to nearly 600 executives would cover bailout costs for many of the 116 banks that have so far accepted tax dollars to boost their bottom lines.

Rep. Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services committee and a long-standing critic of executive largesse, said the bonuses tallied by the AP review amount to a bribe ''to get them to do the jobs for which they are well paid in the first place.

''Most of us sign on to do jobs and we do them best we can,'' said Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat. ''We're told that some of the most highly paid people in executive positions are different. They need extra money to be motivated!''

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