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Top-Paid CFO in U.S. to Forgo Bonus

November 17, 2008
Goldman Sachs said Sunday, November 16, that CEO Lloyd Blankfein and CFO David Viniar—along with five other top officers—will not get bonuses for 2008. According to Financial Week’s list of the highest-paid CFOs, Viniar received a nearly $23 million bonus in 2007.

Blankfein and Viniar, along with presidents and co-chief operating officers Jon Winkelried and Gary Cohn and vice chairmen J. Michael Evans, Michael Sherwood and John Weinberg, asked the board’s compensation committee Sunday morning that they not receive a bonus, spokesman Lucas van Praag said.

The compensation committee met and agreed, van Praag said.

The executives will only be eligible for a base salary of $600,000 each, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Last year, Blankfein made $68.5 million; Winkelried and Cohn received $67.5 million.

Viniar’s bonus for 2007 pushed the CFO’s total compensation to $57.5 million for the year. That made him by far the highest-paid finance chief in the U.S., according to Financial Week.

The second CFO on the list, Occidental Petroleum’s Stephen I. Chazen, earned just under $30 million last year.

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said Goldman had taken “an important step in the right direction.”

Last month, Cuomo warned Goldman and eight other banks getting U.S. government money in the first round of capital injections under the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program that using the funds for bonuses might break state law.

“This gesture by Goldman Sachs is appropriate and prudent and hopefully will help bring Wall Street to its senses,” Cuomo said in a statement Sunday. “We strongly encourage other banks to follow Goldman Sachs’ step.”

On September 16, Goldman posted a 70 percent drop in quarterly profit, its biggest earnings decline since going public in 1999, as the worst market slump in decades led to weaker-than-expected revenue.

Several analysts expect the company to post a fourth-quarter loss, which would be its first ever as a public company.

Its shares are down 69 percent so far this year.

Filed by Financial Week, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail editors@workforce.com.