Did Lehman's boss lie?

A whistle-blowing lawyer claims Lehman's chief executive lied to Congress about his salary.

By Kim Peterson Apr 30, 2010 2:02PM
Richard Fuld. © AP Photo/Kevin WolfThis drama has all the right elements: A whistle-blowing lawyer. Possible lies to Congress. Hundreds of millions of dollars quietly pocketed.

Pass the popcorn! Oh, wait. The case of the salary of former Lehman exec Richard Fuld is just a drop in the bucket. There are countless scandals now involving Wall Street bosses, their ridiculous salaries, the investor money they lost and how it all helped the economy implode.

Will the case of Dick Fuld's missing money get any traction? It all centers around the claim that Fuld, the boss at Lehman as the corporate ship was sinking, lied to lawmakers about the salary he was bringing home.

Sitting in front of a House committee in 2008, Fuld said he made less than $310 million in total pay from 2000 through 2007. He was refuting claims by one lawmaker that he pocketed nearly $500 million during that time, according to Bloomberg BusinessWeek.

Was Fuld, who was under oath, lying? His words alerted a former Lehman lawyer who was watching the hearing on television at home. Post continues after video:
That lawyer, Oliver Budde, had been deeply involved with preparing Lehman's regulatory reports on executive pay, according to Bloomberg BusinessWeek. He eventually quit Lehman, but he knew how things worked there.

He knew enough to meticulously pore over Lehman's numbers after the fact, and he calculated that Fuld actually received $529.4 million from 2000 through 2007 -- not the $310 million that Fuld claimed.

A separate study by Harvard law professors said that Fuld earned $522.7 million during that time.
Pretty damaging stuff. Fuld didn't respond to questions from Bloomberg BusinessWeek. But his lawyer called Budde's findings "without merit."

Oh, and by the way, Lehman paid nearly $500,000 to prepare Fuld for his testimony and get documents together for lawmakers, Bloomberg BusinessWeek reported.

Will anything come out of this? I'm skeptical. Lehman is gone. Congress has bigger fish to fry. Financial reform is front and center right now.

All this has done is give us one more reason to be angry and deeply suspicious of Wall Street shenanigans.

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