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Convicted crook and former Qwest (NYSE: Q ) chief executive Joe Nacchio is suing attorney Herb Stein for incompetence and overbilling. Among the alleged splurges: in-room movies, expensive team meals, and underwear.
Yep, underwear. As if the fictional Underpants Gnomes from South Park came to life and snuck into Stein's room, swiping his skivvies during the 2007 insider trading trial that ended with Nacchio sentenced to six years in federal lock-up. It'd be hilarious if it weren't so infuriating. This is the sort of distasteful nonsense CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL ) can expect as it consumes Qwest. Bon appetit.
I know, I know, Nacchio hasn't been CEO of Qwest in years. Yet cutting ties hasn't been easy. As a condition of his employment agreement, the carrier has covered some of Nacchio's legal fees. Separately, in 2009 Qwest paid $40 million to settle a class action dispute in which Nacchio was named as a defendant.
Let this be a lesson, Fool. Management and cushy employment agreements can cost you as an investor. Learn to read proxy statements. Pay attention to the fine print. Because whether you want to believe it or not, compensation schemes that reward real performance (like this one does) are rare.
Don't believe me? Here's a sampling of the unseemliness uncovered by Michelle Leder and her team of financial statement sleuths over at footnoted.com recently:
- At Sunrise Senior Living (NYSE: SRZ ) , the co-founder's wife has a six-figure contract for advising management on training, morale, and to speak at company functions. Who knew cheerleading could be so lucrative?
- At Cigna (NYSE: CI ) , chairman Isaiah Harris Jr. set what might be a new record for director compensation for ... transitioning from vice chairman to chairman. Great gig if you can get it, eh?
The truth is that too many investors don't read financial filings and as a result fall victim to incompetent or unethical managers and board members, often with devastating results. Nacchio was probably a little of both, and Qwest's shareholders have paid the price.
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