Your Bank May Collapse But Lenders Still Get Big Bonuses

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As mortgage holders face foreclosure and shareholders take a bath, troubled Washington Mutual takes action -- to protect executive bonuses. It could be a trend. Get the board of directors to change the rules to make it look like you're doing a good job and collect millions in bonuses.

Around the country, Washington Mutual (Stock WM) regularly plays the tough guy with homeowners who fall behind on mortgages. This as foreclosure filings overall rose 60% nationwide in February.

And its involvement in the subprime mess has been tough on stockholders. Since last summer, the company's shares have lost nearly 80% of their value.

But the bank is a softy when it comes to bonus pay for top brass.

After CEO Kerry Killinger and other top executives missed all or a big part of their bonus pay last year, Washington Mutual wasted little time taking steps to apparently make sure it won't happen again -- even if the mortgage market and the company remain in the tank.

The board decided in February to use different performance yardsticks that could make it look like Killinger and other top executives were doing great jobs -- and all but ensure them millions of dollars in bonuses for 2008.

Those huge losses piling up because of subprime loans and foreclosures? At bonus time, the bank will ignore them.

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