E*Trade: CEO Pay Isn't the Only Problem

Christos Cotsakos' outsize compensation could be a symptom of greater corporate-governance and conflict-of-interest issues

Investors cried foul on Apr. 30 when E*Trade Group Inc. (ET ) disclosed it had paid out a $77 million compensation package for Chief Executive Christos M. Cotsakos in 2001 -- a year in which the financial-services company lost $242 million. When Cotsakos pledged on May 10 to return $21 million to E*Trade, the din hardly subsided. After all, his remaining $56 million compensation still topped the combined pay of the CEOs of Charles Schwab, Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan Chase, and Merrill Lynch -- all vastly larger and more profitable firms.

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