ANOTHER CEO POTENTATE
Gretchen Morgenson writes in The New York Times about another imperial CEO:
Chief executives are different from you and me. Besides making buckets more money, some of them don't even have to pay their bills.
We learned this again last week when the Securities and Exchange Commission sued Tyson Foods, the big meat producer in Arkansas, and its former chairman, Donald J. Tyson....
According to the S.E.C., from 1997 to 2001, Mr. Tyson received a total of $3 million in perquisites - a bill shareholders didn't know they were paying. The perks included $38,000 in Oriental rugs and antiques, a $15,000 London vacation, an $8,000 horse and "substantial purchases of clothing, jewelry, artwork, vacations and theater tickets," the S.E.C. said.
At least Mr. Tyson didn't take this all for himself. Regulators said his wife, their three daughters and three people with whom Mr. Tyson had "close personal relationships" were also along for the ride.
Tyson shareholders also paid $464,132 for the personal use by Mr. Tyson, his family and pals of company-owned homes in England and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Shareholders paid $426,086 for these people to use company-owned aircraft, even on trips when Mr. Tyson was not on board. Also covered was $203,675 in housekeeping provided at five homes and $84,000 in lawn maintenance at the properties. More than $36,000 was spent on phone bills.
Wait, there's more: the company even paid $1.1 million to cover Mr. Tyson's income tax bills generated by his receipt of these perks....
Well, he must have been hard up -- right?
This, by the way, is a man who made a total of $3.1 million in salary and $1.4 million in bonuses from 1997 to 2001, when he retired. (He stayed on as a director.) In 2001, Mr. Tyson held 103 million shares of Tyson Class B stock, which has supervoting rights.
Wow, that's a lot of stock. I'm not sure what the value of Tyson Class B stock is per share, but I think it should be pretty close to the value of the common stock, which, as I type this, is $16.89. Seventeen bucks times 103 million? You do the math.
And here's the kicker: The same stockholders who had to pay all this out without ever having seen it disclosed had to pay a Securities and Exchange Commission fine of $1.5 million because it wasn't disclosed.
That could have included you, if your 401(k) or IRA invests in Tyson Foods.
Looking forward to Social Security accounts invested in the stock market?