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Thursday, August 13, 2009

So Much for Transparency: Obama Just Another Tool Afterall

Feds to keep automaker execs' pay private
David Shepardson / Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington -- The Obama administration will not make public the detailed compensation plans for the highest employees at seven companies that have accepted bailout loans.

General Motors Co., Chrysler Group LLC, GMAC Inc. and Chrysler Financial are among the seven in the process of submitting compensation plans for their top 25 executives by Friday, and will outline proposals for their top 100 execs in the coming months.

The four auto sector companies have received more than $80 billion in taxpayer loans -- though Chrysler Financial has repaid its $1.5 billion loan. Last week, GM submitted several hundred pages outlining its pay practices, said spokesman Tom Wilkinson, but doesn't plan to make the list public. The Treasury Department and White House both said the government won't release the documents, but "companies may choose to share them," said Treasury spokeswoman Meg Reilly. Spokesmen for GMAC and Chrysler Financial said Wednesday their companies were in the process of complying with the government's demand. GMAC's Gina Proia said its proposal will "embody the principles of compensation while balancing the need to retain talent to execute our turnaround."

Chrysler Group LLC, the post-bankruptcy automaker, said in a statement Wednesday that it will meet the requirement to file a compensation plan, yet "strive to respect our employees' privacy by maintaining the confidentiality of individual compensation information."

The Obama administration's special adviser on executive compensation at the companies, Kenneth Feinberg, will review the pay proposals over the next two months, and may revamp any of them.

Amid reports that some banks plan to award tens of billions in bonuses, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank, D-Mass., wrote Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on Wednesday that "the plans should reward long-term growth instead of short-term profit-taking... and, most importantly, make absolutely certain that financial institutions will never again play Russian roulette with the American taxpayers."

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