Bank of America CEO to give up 2009 salary

Bank of America Corp. said late Thursday that the U.S. government’s “pay czar,” Kenneth Feinberg, suggested to out-going Chief Executive Officer Kenneth Lewis that he should take no compensation for 2009.

Lewis agreed because he felt that it wasn’t in the best interests of Bank of America to “get into a dispute with the pay-master,” Bob Stickler, a spokesman for the bank, said in an interview.

Lewis will not take a salary or bonus for 2009, which means he will return the salary he’s already earned this year, Stickler explained. T

His agreement with the pay czar doesn’t include Lewis’ retirement package from Bank of America, which was built up over the years he ran the bank, the spokesman added.

Feinberg was appointed by the White House to review and approve compensation for top executives at the seven companies receiving “exceptional” support from the government. He’s set to decide on the pay of the five most senior executive officers and the 20 most highly-compensated employees at these firms by Oct. 30.

“Companies will need to convince Mr. Feinberg that they have struck the right balance to discourage excessive risk taking and reward performance for their top executives,” a spokesman at the Treasury Department wrote in an email to MarketWatch. “We are not going to provide a running commentary on that process, but it’s clear that Mr. Feinberg has broad authority to make sure that compensation at those firms strikes an appropriate balance.”

The Treasury spokesman declined to comment further.

(c) 2009, Inc. Source: McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.