Phibro LLC, the energy trading arm of beleaguered bank Citigroup
The secretive Phibro unit, based in Connecticut, can sometimes provide the bulk of revenues for its parent company, which has taken a $45 billion federal bailout and is expected this week to give the government a 34 percent equity stake.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday that Phibro's Hall, a trader known for huge long-term punts in the oil market as well as for his vast and eclectic art collection, was pressing the company to honor a 2009 pay package amounting to about $100 million despite Citigroup's financial woes.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said on Monday one could easily come to the conclusion that that's probably a bit out of whack on any pay scale.
A Phibro official declined comment and a Citigroup spokeswoman did not immediately return calls.
The situation could put Citigroup in a difficult position as it seeks to balance its desire to retain its top energy trader against the government's drive to crack down on excessive compensation on Wall Street.
The U.S. Treasury Department's pay czar will require companies that received exceptional government aid to face an August 13 deadline to submit their compensation plans, people familiar with the process said on Monday.
Kenneth Feinberg, who has authority over the top 100 employees' pay, has been consulting with the seven companies, which include Citigroup, American International Group Inc
Feinberg, a lawyer, cannot force companies to break contractual obligations not covered by the statute that governs the pay restrictions, but has broad authority to ensure that pay is appropriate, Treasury spokesman Andrew Williams said.
(New York Energy Desk; Editing by Christian Wiessner)