Science and Technology Minister Jacob Perry has been cleared to receive a 615,000 shekel (about $175,000) bonus from Bank Mizrahi-Tefahot for the 10 months he served as the bank’s board chairman in 2012.
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The bank’s compensation committee recently decided to award Perry – a minister from Finance Minister Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party – the big bonus. The compensation committee made its decision on December 30, 2013, but the bank’s board only approved the decision yesterday.
Just last week Lapid, who in the past headed advertising campaigns for Bank Hapoalim, spoke out against the excessive salaries at Israeli banks, calling it “scandalous.” Lapid said the decision-making process of institutional investors who approved the generous pay packages at Bank Leumi should be examined. Lapid’s office declined to comment on Perry’s bonus.
The cost to the bank of Perry’s employment, from January-October 2012, was 2.29 million shekels, for working only three-fifths of a full-time position – not including the new bonus.
Perry was appointed science minister last March. After the bank’s compensation committee approved the bonus, Perry asked the “approval committee” that operates under the auspices of the State Comptroller’s Office for their assent to accept the bonus, which it did. But conflict of interest rules applying to ministers require Perry to place the money in a blind trust.
Perry explained to the committee that he was entitled to an annual bonus under his contract with the bank, based on criteria set in advance and the bank’s financial results. “In accepting the bonus, there is no fear of bias in my serving as a minister, fear of conflicts of interest or damage to my obligation to dedicate [myself] to the position and not work in another job,” he told the committee. Perry was required to submit his request to the approval committee since the regulations state: “A minister may not receive salary or benefits except for his salary paid by the state.”
As a minister, Perry makes 41,302 shekels a month (gross). He also enjoys an estimated 15,000-20,000 shekel net monthly pension for his years of service in the Shin Bet security service, which he headed before retiring and going into private business. After leaving the Shin Bet, he served as CEO of cellular operator Cellcom, and later as chairman of the board of a number of private companies. He left Bank Mizrahi-Tefahot to run for the Knesset.
“Jacob Perry earned enormous amounts of money during his career in the private sector, and joins the list of the mega-rich: [Economy Minister Naftali] Bennett, Lapid and [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu – who are not even willing to disclose to the public their declarations of assets. And at the same time they are imposing harsh [economic] decrees on the poor and on the middle class, all the while being completely disconnected from the experience of the life of the average citizen in Israel,” said MK Shelly Yacimovich (Labor).
“[Lapid] said just last week that the salaries at Bank Leumi are excessive and immoral. It would be appropriate that he now turn to the senior member of his party and ask him, for the sake of appearance, to waive the bonus,” she added.