Directors’ excessive bonuses are the subject of heated debate again in the Netherlands. Recent efforts to temper the bouts of ‘exhibitionistic self enrichment’ with corporate governance codes and shareholder empowerment, appear to have achieved very little.

Today there are three cases of flagrant pocket-filling in the news. One involves newspaper publisher PCM where a director received a €1m bonus for just 10 months work before being booted out for incompetence.
Meanwhile the bosses of electronics giant Philips have received big bonuses for ‘successfully’ selling off the semi-conductor business. And last but not least, supermarket concern Ahold has announced that its directors are getting fat cheques totalling €8m – this is a company that can’t pay a dividend to shareholders because its debts are too high.
We’ve seen it all before. The non-executive directors who control the salaries of the executive directors are usually mates. The shareholders make noises but most of them can’t be bothered to turn up to annual meetings.
Maybe the new Christian-minded government could shame the fat cats into good behaviour. It says norms and values are missing in the lower echelons of society. It’s time they targeted their searchlight for decency on the boardrooms.

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