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Ex-United CEO Has to Cooperate to Keep $29 Million Severance

  • United can recoup payments if Smisek is convicted of crime
  • His cooperation with United is part of separation agreement
Jeffrey Smisek, chief executive officer of United Airlines and United Continental Holdings Inc., on Dec. 16, 2010.

Jeffrey Smisek, chief executive officer of United Airlines and United Continental Holdings Inc., on Dec. 16, 2010.

Photographer: Ian Waldie/Bloomberg
Updated on

Jeff Smisek leaves United Continental Holdings Inc. $28.6 million richer. Keeping the money will take cooperation.

United tied Smisek’s exit to the carrier’s probe over its dealings with the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey. A clawback provision in Smisek’s separation agreement dated Tuesday requires him to comply with investigations into events that occurred during his employment. If he doesn’t, or if he’s convicted or pleads guilty to a felony or “any crime involving moral turpitude,” the company can rescind those payments, according to the agreement filed by the Chicago-based airline. No such language exists in Smisek’s employment agreement filed as part of the company’s annual report in 2011.