Hapoalim, Execs and Claimants Reach Accord on 2005 Bonuses

Shlomo Nehama was first to agree to return some money, Ziv was next, Dankner won't return a sou

Or rather, that Zvi Ziv and Shlomo Nehama will return part of the money; Danny Dankner won't

An accord has finally been hashed out between the management of Bank Hapoalim (TASE: POLI), the Israel Securities Authority, and the claimants in a class action motion against the bank regarding the wage and bonuses granted to the three top people at the bank for the year 2005.

Chairman Shlomo Nehama received NIS 23.2 million in pay and bonuses for the year. CEO Zvi Ziv received NIS 33.5 million and vice-chairman Danny Dankner received NIS 15 million.

A public outcry arose over the gargantuan amounts, which had been inflated by the sale of Signature Bank of New York last year. As the uproar reached the watchdogs, Ziv and Nehama expressed willingness to return some of the money, but Dankner did not.

Ultimately, indeed, Dankner is firm in his refusal, saying his remuneration had been properly approved.

Buffeted by the public pressure, the bank's biggest controlling shareholder, Shari Arison, and Nehama concluded that the affair had hurt the bank's reputation. Nehama was first to agree to return some of the money. Ziv came next but as said, Dankner balked.

The basic proposal is for Nehama and Ziv to return the difference between their bonuses for 2005 and for 2004.

The only snag remaining at this point is that the lawyers representing the class action claimants are demanding 10% of the bonuses as a fee, which works out to about NIS 3 million. The bank says the claim is excessive. Either they will work out an accord of their own, or the case will wind up in court.