Saturday, March 2, 2013

Swiss "Rip Off Initiative" Their Best Idea Since the Army Knife


Look out all you fat cat CEO off shore tax cheats, your days of head quartering in Switzerland are coming to an end.  In a move that this country should have implemented as part of the Republican watered down Dodd Frank Wall Street reforms, the Swiss are expected to pass a referendum entitled the "Rip Off Initiative".

As part of the "Rip-off Initiative", shareholders of Swiss head quartered corporations will be given the right to hold a binding vote on a company's compensation for executives and directors. This includes both base salary and their dearly beloved annual bonuses.  The initiative would further ban the huge signing and departing bonuses (i.e. "golden hellos" and "golden parachutes") often part of executive compensation packages and would require more transparency and full disclosure to shareholders of.self-dealing by executives in the form of personal loans.  The proposed penalties for violating the rules range from a fine of up to six times their annual salary and/or up to three years in prison.

As you will recall, Dodd-Frank does not mandate regulation of pay levels for executives of corporations head quartered in this country even though most financial regulators would agree that there is a legitimate interest in setting compensation rules because the structure of compensation can have an impact on the level of risk-taking. Decisions made within individual institutions may be excessively risky because executives are counting on government support should the company lose its risky bets.  Instead, to offset this incentive to take excessive risk,  Dodd-Frank merely required that a significant part of the pay of executives and other risk takers should be delayed and paid out over several years.  That was it.  The Wall Street crowd just laughed at us thanks in large part to the work of their Republican (and some Democratic) shills aka Congress men and women.

It is about time the American People pressured our elected officials for real, Swiss-like Wall Street reform.  In the meantime you can expect an exodus of Biblical proportions by Swiss head quartered corporations once the "Rip Off Initiative" passes.

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