Former Goldman Trader Sues: $8 Million Bonus Just Not Enough

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Wall Street bonuses are notoriously lucrative, but for at least one former trader, perhaps not fat enough. Deeb Salem, a former Goldman Sachs trader, is suing the firm in a petition filed last week in New York's State Supreme Court, claiming his $8.25 million dollar bonus was inadequate. A previous claim brought before FINRA arbitration was denied.

According to a Bloomberg report, Salem expected his 2010 bonus to top $13 million, claiming to have made more than $7 billion for Goldman Sachs as a trader in its mortgage securities department. He had scored a $15 million bonus the year before, a year in which he was more highly compensated than the firm's chief executive, Lloyd C. Blankfein. Salem left the firm the following year after a paltry $3 million bonus motivated his move to a hedge fund.

"Let's be very clear: I was one of the most sought-after investment professionals in the mortgage industry," Salem said during the Feb. 25 FINRA hearing, according to Bloomberg. "I had the opportunity throughout the course of my career and throughout -- from that day, from almost every month that I was at Goldman, to leave for other opportunities."

Salem's issues with Goldman began in 2007 when he discussed hedging failing mortgage securities in a job self-evaluation. Those comments gained notoriety when quoted in the U.S. Senate as Goldman Sachs came under investigation for realizing massive profits by betting against the collapsing housing market.

Salem claims his compensation was slashed because of those comments.

"These claims are utterly ridiculous, which is why they were rejected by a FINRA panel, and unworthy of any further response," Tiffany Galvin, a spokeswoman for Goldman Sachs said, according to Bloomberg.

Salem was paid more than $35 million over six years, according to testimony at the hearing. His claim originally sought more than $20 million in unpaid compensation, but his suit now seeks $9.5 million plus 41,000 shares of Goldman Sachs stock as deferred compensation.