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TheStreet Open House

Rich Bankers Laugh at $9 Million Woman

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- When Mary Schapiro was named chairwoman of the Securities and Exchange Commission last year, I was not bubbling over with enthusiasm.

As the head of NASD, the self-regulatory body for the Nasdaq Stock Market, I felt she was excessively embedded in a system that had failed to adequately supervise brokerages, big and small. To me, her unsuitability for the job was epitomized by the way she appeared on the cover of penny-stock-promoting Equities magazine -- as I described in this blog post back in 2007.

I'm not saying she had to spit in the eyes of the penny-stock crowd, but was it absolutely necessary for her to prance on to the cover of what used to be known as OTC Journal?

Well, now we're in annual Wall Street bonus season, and word is slithering out of the big banks that record bonuses are about to be paid out, 4% over last year -- even as profits remain 20% below the levels in 2006. If you're not seeing Mary Schapiro jumping up and down, jawboning the banks to tear the word "obscene" out of its habitual pairing with "compensation," there's a good reason for that. Seems that when she was at NASD, Schapiro was slobbering over the trough as eagerly as any of the people she was supposed to be regulating.

According to a FINRA report that came out a few days ago, helpfully excerpted by Zero Hedge and other blogs -- but generally ignored by the media -- Schapiro was paid a staggering $9 million when Obama made his big mistake, and she left NASD for the SEC .

According to the report, she received $8,985,334.02 as she exited her NASD job, "most of which consisted of the lump sum payment of the retirement benefits that had accrued in her favor during her 13-year tenure with FINRA. Most of the remainder consisted of incentive compensation for 2008 to which she was contractually entitled."

But that's OK, said the report: "... the total compensation paid to or accrued in favor of Ms. Schapiro during the relevant time period was not more than competitive with the comparable groups." What groups are we talking about? "As comparables for the compensation of FINRA's chief executive officer and chief financial officer, compensation consultant Mercer used investment banking and brokerage firms with between $250 million and $5.6 billion of revenue because the pay level of CEOs and CFOs are generally related to firm size," says the report.

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