Deeb Salem, a former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. trader who said he helped the bank earn more than $7 billion, wants to be paid the almost $5 million difference between his 2010 bonus and what he told his mother to expect. Salem said in an arbitration hearing that he was led to believe that his 2010 bonus would be $13 million, down from a $15 million award for 2009 when he was paid more than Chief Executive Officer Lloyd C. Blankfein. Instead, Salem said his bonus was unfairly docked because of a written warning he received about his 2007 self-evaluation.
Salem asked the Court to throw out the arbitrators' ruling against him in part because he said they showed bias, with one member of the panel calling his case "bulls---" during the hearing.
Salem was highly paid even by Wall Street standards, as the average managing director
in the areas of mortgage-backed securities, structured credit and proprietary trading received a 2009 bonus of $750,000 to $1.1 million
, according to an Options Group report at the time. Still, banks are competing for top talent with hedge funds that more often pay a direct percentage of what the trader generates.
Salem said his group put on a large short bet against the housing market, reaping billions of dollars for Goldman Sachs
and helping it weather the financial crisis better than peers. He said Blankfein told the desk to cover its bet in early 2007, forcing the group to sell almost $5 billion of positions to Harbinger Capital Partners LLC, the hedge-fund firm run by Phil Falcone that made billions betting against subprime mortgages. While the move cost the group profits, it once again went short in the middle of 2007, generating gains of $2 billion to $3 billion, Salem said
. The group made almost $2 billion in 2008 and then changed its view of the market to positive in 2009 and 2010, reaping more than $1 billion in each of those years, he said.
Frackman said that while "there is no dispute that he is very good at trading," Salem was paid better than peers. He was awarded more than $35 million of compensation over 6 years
and was the second-best-paid managing director in the mortgage department in 2009 and 2010, and third-best in 2011, Frackman said.
"He made a ton of money," Frackman said at the hearing. "He's not entitled to more simply because he would like to have been paid more. If that were the case, you'd have traders and bankers in here every day of the week."
In 2011, the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations said Salem and other Goldman Sachs traders tried to Manipulate prices of derivatives linked to subprime home loans in 2007 for their own benefit