Attorney Ken Feinberg, who was appointed by the Obama administration to determine the pay of top corporate executives at companies that received the most federal government aid, doesn't plan to "claw back" compensation already paid to company officials except in "egregious" situations, he told a group of lawyers today.
Feinberg, who spoke to the Chicago Bar Association via videoconference from Washington, said he questioned whether taking back money already paid to corporate executives is a good idea. He hasn't thought much about that aspect of his job and would rather not, he said.
"I'm wary of exercising that power in too many cases," Feinberg said, explaining that it's complicated by the fact that the money is already paid, may have been spent, and may have been taxed already.
Feinberg, who said he's a mediator, not a "pay czar," as he's usually described, told the lawyers that he's been focused on negotiating with the seven companies that received the most aid because he must determine pay packages for the top 25 executives at those companies by next month. He then must also craft a compensation structure for other officials. The seven companies are General Motors Co., GMAC Inc., Bank of America, Citigroup Inc., Chrysler Group LLC, American International Group Inc., and Chrysler Financial.
Feinberg also has future power to claw back the compensation that he is helping to determine now, and said exercising his duties for that compensation would not be as complicated.