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Bailed out Wall Street firm caught on tape: tells staff to deny payout is a bonus

By pams
Wednesday, February 11, 2009 17:31 EDT
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Your tax dollars at work. Bush rolled out TARP with little oversight and this is why almost no one has sympathy for the banks and financial firms that have done everything in their power to keep living the high life on your dime. This Huff Post piece by Sam Stein (and it includes audio) will have steam coming out of your ears.

Two Wall Street firms that received at least $60 billion in government bailout funds will be rewarding their financial advisers with controversial retention payments, the terms of which one senior executive described as “very generous” in audio obtained by the Huffington Post.

The soon-to-be-merged financial giants — Morgan Stanley and Citigroup’s Smith Barney — announced the payments during an internal conference call last week, but warned advisers against describing them in terms that would cause PR headaches.

There will be a retention award. Please do not call it a bonus,” said James Gorman, co-president of Morgan Stanley. “It is not a bonus. It is an award. And it recognizes the importance of keeping our team in place as we go through this integration.

What’s sickening is the game that is being played — the self-proclaimed faux bonuses are based on the rosier 2008 performance figures rather than the tanking 2009 numbers. And they know exactly what they were doing. James Gorman thought it was a knee-slapper.

“I think I can hear you clapping from here in New York,” Gorman joked during the call, after announcing that the payments would be linked to ’08 performance. “You should be clapping because frankly that is a very generous and thoughtful decision that we have made. We spent a lot of time kicking this around. We could easily have done it from the point of closing, which is obviously going to be somewhere in the latter half of this year or around the middle of the year. But we just decided… that it was right thing to do, to give you that certainty that it would be based off ’08. ’09 is a very difficult year… So that degree of anxiety, which many, many of you have emailed me about… is now off the table.”

…Audio of the conference call was provided by a reader who responded to the Huffington Post’s call for information about wasteful or extravagant spending by bailout recipients.

 
 
 
 
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