$55K for a bailout-mobile?

November 18, 2008

There’s been endless stories written about executive compensation for banks participating in Treasury’s Capital Purchase Program. As the rules clearly spell out, compensation for the five named executives is capped at $500K and there’s additional restrictions on so-called golden parachutes. But I’ve yet to come across anything that looks at some of the perks — mostly cars and country clubs — that typically come with running even a modest-sized bank.

So you can imagine my surprise when I took a look at the 10Q that Capital Corp. of the West (CCOW) filed late yesterday. As the bank, which has seen its stock decline 91 percent so far this year, announced back in July, it replaced longtime CEO Thomas Hawker (pictured here during happier times) with Richard Cupp, a veteran banker from the Los Angeles area.

But it wasn’t until yesterday’s filing that the bank included the details of Cupp’s agreement. Under the agreement, Cupp will get paid $500K a year — a 22% increase over Hawker’s salary of $410K. But it’s the car — specifically the stipulation that the “Company shall purchase or lease an automobile of the Executive’s choice for his use as Chief Executive Officer at an —out the door cost not to exceed $55,000.” that really made me pay attention, especially in light of the fact that the bank is asking the feds (read: taxpayers) for a $46 million helping hand. Given that, couldn’t Cupp settle for a Nissan Versa?

Image source: Nasdaq

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