Goldman CEO, 6 others forgo 2008 bonuses

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Goldman Sachs Group Inc said on Sunday its Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein and six other top officials will not get bonuses for 2008.

Lloyd Blankfein, Chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs & Co., speaks at the Wall Street Journal Deals & Deal Makers conference, held at the New York Stock Exchange in this June 27, 2007 file photo. Goldman Sachs Group Inc said on Sunday Blankfein and six other top officials will not get bonuses for 2008. REUTERS/Chip East

Blankfein, Presidents and Co-Chief Operating Officers Jon Winkelried and Gary Cohn, Chief Financial Officer David Viniar, and three vice chairmen -- J. Michael Evans, Michael Sherwood and John Weinberg -- asked the board’s compensation committee Sunday morning that they not receive a bonus, spokesman Lucas van Praag said.

The compensation committee met and agreed, Praag said.

The executives will only be eligible for a base salary of $600,000 each, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Last year, Blankfein made $68.5 million, Winkelried and Cohn got $67.5 million, and Viniar got $57.5 million. The compensation of the other three was not disclosed.

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said Goldman had taken “an important step in the right direction.”

Last month, Cuomo warned Goldman and eight other banks getting U.S. government money in the first round of capital injections under the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program that using the funds for bonuses might break state law.

“This gesture by Goldman Sachs is appropriate and prudent and hopefully will help bring Wall Street to its senses,” Cuomo said in a statement on Sunday. “We strongly encourage other banks to follow Goldman Sachs’ step.”

Goldman’s move comes as the global credit crisis leads to big losses and erodes profit for banks and securities firms.

Banks worldwide have fired more than 150,000 people since the crunch began. Goldman recently fired 3,200 employees, or 10 percent of its global workforce.

Goldman became a bank holding company regulated by the Federal Reserve in September, along with Morgan Stanley, after Lehman Brothers failed, Merrill Lynch agreed to be bought as financial markets went into turmoil.

On September 16, Goldman posted a 70 percent drop in quarterly profit, its biggest earnings decline since going public in 1999, as the worst market slump in decades led to weaker-than-expected revenue.

Several analysts expect the company to post a fourth-quarter loss, which would be its first ever as a public company.

Its shares are down 69 percent so far this year.

Reporting by Joseph A. Giannone and Paritosh Bansal; Editing by Tim Dobbyn