Goldman Sachs: CEO Blankfein's Bonus Up in the Air

Goldman Sachs on Monday poured cold water on a Times of London report suggesting the bank's embattled CEO Lloyd Blankfein was set to receive a monster pay day.

The Times article, sourced to unnamed bankers at the Davos World Economic Forum, had Wall Street buzzing over the possibility that Blankfein was going to grab an outsized figure, as much as $100 million, thus "thumbing his nose" at an Obama administration bent on reining in risk-inclined banks.

"The Goldman Sachs board of directors has not yet made its final decision on executive compensation so the $100 million figure is speculative nonsense," said Ed Canaday, a Goldman spokesman.

While Goldman notified rank and file employees of their bonuses last month, the bank has not yet informed its senior executives, including Blankfein, of their year-end awards, not yet approved by the board, Canaday added.

"Reporting this sort of speculative nonsense calls into question the editorial standards of the paper," he said. Helen Power, the Times reporter who filed the report, didn't return e-mails seeking comment, nor did a spokesman for the paper.

In December, Canaday similarly dismissed as "pretty stupid" an report that predicted several of Goldman's best-paid traders and bankers would likely receive bonuses upwards of $10 million each. Efforts to confirm what the top Goldman employees were in fact paid are ongoing but the bank has been tight-lipped. Canaday would not comment on how much Goldman's highest-paid employees were paid.

Famine, Feast for CEO

In 2008, a year in which Goldman reported net revenues of $22 billion, Blankfein received no bonus. A year earlier, Blankfein earned $70 million in compensation, the most money any CEO earned that year, and perhaps the most a CEO of a public company has ever made in one year.

News reports in the past several months had presumed that Goldman was on pace for a $20 billion-plus bonus pool for 2009. However, Goldman, in something of a surprise move, set aside nothing in the fourth quarter for compensation, resulting in a $16.2 billion kitty built from revenues produced the first three quarters.

Goldman has said earlier this year that all of its senior most executives would be paid in stock only. Canaday would not say when the bank expects the board's final decision on senior executive pay to be publicly disclosed.

In late 2008 Goldman, along with several other banks who at the time had tapped the Troubled Asset Relief Program, was required to file a report identifying the bank's highest-paid employees to Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., then chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Goldman's letter, which Canaday last year confirmed had been sent, was never made public. Rep. Edolphus Town, D-N.Y., has since taken over as Oversight Committee chairman. Goldman has since repaid TARP money.