Monday, October 06, 2008

Portrait of Greed - Lehman's Last Days

As House Oversight and Government Reform Committee holds hearings into the demise of Lehman Brothers a clear picture of corporate greed has emerged. Just days before the nation's largets bankruptcy, Lehman executives steered millions into safety nets for the top management of the company.

Huffington Post reports the following exchange between Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and Richard Fuld, Jr. of Lehman.

Richard S. Fuld Jr., chief executive officer of Lehman Brothers, declared to the committee "I take full responsibility for the decisions that I made and for the actions that I took." He defended his actions as "prudent and appropriate" based on information he had at the time.

"I feel horrible about what happened," he said.

Waxman questioned Fuld on whether it was true he took home some $480 million in compensation since 2000, and asked: "Is that fair?"

Fuld took off his glasses, held them, and looked uncomfortable. He said his compensation was not quite that much.

Waxman then read excerpts from Lehman documents in which a recommendation that top management should forgo bonuses was apparently brushed aside. He also cited a Sept. 11 request to Lehman's compensation board that three executives leaving the company be given $20 million in "special payments."

"In other words, even as Mr. Fuld was pleading with Secretary Paulson for a federal rescue, Lehman continued to squander millions on executive compensation," Waxman said before Fuld appeared as a witness.

No comments: