BAD BANKING

Probe launched into Catalan bankers’ salaries

Nationalized CatalunyaCaixa claims it is "scrupulous" in following industry laws

Barcelona’s Attorney’s Office has opened an investigation into the “high” salaries enjoyed by top executives at CatalunyaCaixa, the Catalan regional banking group that was nationalized last year.

A spokesman for the attorneys noted that the lender “required public aid from the state,” and that the public prosecutor will investigate whether these wages are in fact being paid with public money.

Attorney Fernando Maldonado’s investigation is focusing on the salaries and retirement plans enjoyed by the executives of a group that was formed through the merger of three Catalan savings banks, Caixa Catalunya, Caixa Manresa and Caixa Tarragona. But even that operation failed to stem the losses, and the state’s Orderly Bank Restructuring Fund (FROB) bought 89.8 percent of the group. CatalunyaCaixa is one of several merged savings banks that had to be saved by the state, the latest case being Bankia.

Although the investigation is focusing on current execs, the attorney’s office did not rule out looking at former high-ranking officials as well.

After the Bank of Spain forced banks to release information about executive pay, it emerged that CatalunyaCaixa’s president, Adolf Todó, made 1.55 million euros in 2011 and has the right to a 3.46-million-euro pension. The bank’s number two, Jaume Masana, took home 866,000 euros while his retirement plan brings in an additional 637,000 euros.

In a press release, CatalunyaCaixa stated that “the current payment policy for company executives has scrupulously and at all times followed the established norms and procedures,” and that in line with current legislation regarding executive pay for publicly participated lenders, “the salary of the executive chairman and the CEO is set at 300,000 euros a year with a compensation clause limited to two years.”

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