Thanks for leaving
We've heard of exit interviews, but exit bonuses?
It's no secret that powerful financial entities in the private sector like to have friends in government.
But the lengths they will go to ensure a friendly voice at the other end of the phone are causing jaws to drop.
Jack Lew, a former chief of staff to President Obama, has been nominated by Obama to be the next Treasury secretary, and his confirmation is imminent.
But the background check on Lew turned up some interesting information related to the brief period he spent at Citigroup. Lew's contract with Citigroup called for Lew to receive an unspecified bonus if he left his job at the bank for a "high-level position with the United States government or regulatory body."
Employee retention is usually a big issue in the world of business. But in this case, a major bank and a recipient of billions of dollars in taxpayer bailout dollars is willing to pay a bonus to an executive for leaving — if that executive goes to the right place.
One need not be unduly cynical to wonder what kind of goodwill Citigroup is buying from a former employee who was a White House chief of staff and soon-to-be Treasury secretary.
Lew explained this contract provision by saying that his bonus was not unique, that he was "compensated in a manner consistent with other people."
Whether the payment was unique is not the question. Why Citigroup pays and what it expects in return is the real issue, and it bears further examination.