'Pay Czar' to scrutinize Lewis' Bank of America holdings

The federal pay czar, charged with curbing pay at banks that received federal aid, is reviewing Bank of America chief executive Ken Lewis' accumulated benefits, including retirement and stock holdings.

The review follows Lewis' announcement last week that he would retire Dec. 31. He receives no special exit payments or perks, but has accumulated substantial holdings during his 40 years helping build the nation's largest bank.

By one estimate, the tally is roughly $126 million, including a pension of about $53 million and $57 million in bank stock.

On Monday, a Treasury Department spokesperson said his retirement benefits, stock awarded as compensation and other accrued amounts are being reviewed by Kenneth Feinberg, the special master for executive compensation.

Last week, pay consultant David Schmidt said Lewis' holdings are "untouchable" because much of it had been earned over years. Most of the pension payment, for example, is from a plan frozen in 2002. The stock includes shares Lewis bought personally.

"I'd be amazed if (Feinberg is) able to touch anything of any substance," said Schmidt, who is with New York pay consulting firm James F. Reda & Associates. "But," he added, "this is all new for everybody."

Feinberg's appointment is part of a government effort to prevent future financial disasters. His job includes helping ensure pay plans for bank executives do not encourage excessive risk-taking, which has been blamed in part for the current crisis.

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