April 14, 2006— -- Soaring gas prices are squeezing most Americans at the pump, but at least one man isn't complaining.
Last year, Exxon made the biggest profit of any company ever, $36 billion, and its retiring chairman appears to be reaping the benefits.
Exxon is giving Lee Raymond one of the most generous retirement packages in history, nearly $400 million, including pension, stock options and other perks, such as a $1 million consulting deal, two years of home security, personal security, a car and driver, and use of a corporate jet for professional purposes.
Last November, when he was still chairman of Exxon, Raymond told Congress that gas prices were high because of global supply and demand.
"We're all in this together, everywhere in the world," he testified.
Raymond, however, was confronted with caustic complaints about his compensation.
"In 2004, Mr. Raymond, your bonus was over $3.6 million," Sen. Barbara Boxer said.
That was before new corporate documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission that revealed Raymond's retirement deal and his $51.1 million paycheck in 2005. That's equivalent to $141,000 a day, nearly $6,000 an hour. It's almost more than five times what the CEO of Chevron made.
"I think it will spark a lot of outrage," said Sarah Anderson, a fellow in the global economy program at the Institute for Policy Studies, an independent think tank. "Clearly much of his high-level pay is due to the high price of gas."
Exxon defends Raymond's compensation, pointing out that during the 12 years he ran the company, Exxon became the largest oil company in the world and that the stock price went up 500 percent.
A company spokesman said the compensation package reflected "a very long and distinguished career."
Some Exxon shareholders are now trying to pass resolutions criticizing the company's executive pay policies. The company is urging other shareholders to vote against those resolutions.