Eurozone looks to stamp out ‘scandalous’ golden handshakes

BRUSSELS, May 13, 2008 (AFP) – Eurozone finance ministers are considering ways of discouraging “scandalous” excesses in executive pay, including by closing loopholes for golden hand-shakes, Eurogroup chairman Jean-Claude Juncker said Tuesday. “We believe that the excesses of captains of industries’ (pay packages) that we have seen in several countries … are really quite scandalous and we are continuing to examine what can be done,” Juncker told journalists in Brussels.

Ministers from the 15 countries using the euro were in particular considering shaking up tax rules so that golden hand-shakes could no longer be tax deductible, he said.

Golden hand-shakes, large payments to senior executives when they leave a company, have stirred controversy recently after some corporate heavyweights received such payouts despite leaving their companies in disgrace.

The Netherlands has led the way on clamping down on golden hand-shakes, adopting rules recently taxing such pay-outs at a rate of 30 percent for people with annual salaries over 500,000 euros on condition the bonus is greater than the salary.

Juncker said such arrangements for corporate fat cats made it all the more difficult to justify calls on average workers to exercise wag