The South Financial Group drew widespread criticism for the timing of Whittle's golden parachute. The South Financial Group's shares have fallen to as low as $2.48 per share from more than $27 last year, due to troubled real estate loans.

Whittle's exact compensation is difficult to calculate, due to benefits, stocks options and the like, but the bank has said it will cost shareholders at least $12 million. Some estimates have put it as high as $18 million. The situation has also prompted at least one shareholder lawsuit, which is currently working its way through the courts.

Nine of the nation's largest banks, including Bank of America ( BAC ) JPMorgan Chase ( JPM) Citigroup ( C) and Wells Fargo ( WFC)), agreed to an initial round of investments.

A host of regional banks, including PNC Financial Services ( PNC)and KeyCorp ( KEY)have subsequently disclosed that they have received U.S. government money.

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