Goldman Sachs sued by big pension fund over pay

Mon Mar 8, 2010 5:03pm EST

* Fund accuses Goldman of corporate waste

* Goldman says lawsuit lacks merit

NEW YORK, March 8 (Reuters) - Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N) was sued on Monday by a large union pension fund that accused the Wall Street investment bank of overpaying its executives.

The International Brotherhood of Electric Workers fund filed the lawsuit in Delaware Chancery Court, seeking to recover money for the company on behalf of other shareholders.

It seeks to stop Goldman from allocating roughly 47 percent of 2009 net revenue as compensation, saying such allocations "vastly overcompensate management and constitute corporate waste."

The lawsuit also wants Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein and others in management, rather than shareholders, to be responsible for charitable contributions that Goldman is making as a an apology for its activities.

Goldman has been at the center of a public debate over how much banks should pay out in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, after taking billions of dollars of federal bailout money.

Last week, Goldman said it would cap 2009 compensation expense at $16.2 billion, for a 36 percent compensation ratio, despite posting a record profit.

The bank also said its board rejected several shareholder demands to investigate recent pay awards and recoup excessive pay, while admitting it could face "negative publicity" from media portrayals.

Goldman spokesman Ed Canaday said: "We believe the lawsuit is completely without merit." A lawyer for the plaintiff did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

The lawsuit is similar to one filed in the same court in January by the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, or SEPTA, which oversees public transit in the Philadelphia area.

The case is International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98 Pension Fund v. Blankfein et al, Delaware Chancery Court, No. 5315, (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel and Steve Eder; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)