Dennis Kelleher’s Statement on Sheila Bair’s Appointment
to the Board of Directors of Grupo Santander SA
“Sheila Bair’s appointment as an independent director of Santander SA is good news for those who want experienced, tough, independent directors on bank boards who will not be mere puppets of the CEO. She has a demonstrated record for doing what is right under the toughest of circumstances and for aggressively policing reckless and inappropriate bank behavior,” said Dennis Kelleher, President and CEO of Better Markets, Inc., an independent nonprofit organization that promotes the public interest in the financial markets.
“One reason for the financial crisis and Wall Street’s current unending war on financial regulation is that CEO’s fill their boards with directors who are little more than cheerleaders and rubberstamps for the CEO. That is an irresponsible dereliction of duty by bank directors. They are supposed to aggressively represent the best interests of shareholders and hold executives accountable, including the CEO. That is what I expect Sheila Bair will do,” Mr. Kelleher said.
“As a persistent critic of the pernicious revolving door, I am not worried about Sheila Bair being a lapdog for the CEO, who better be ready for a watchdog in the board room. That is not only what is needed, but will ultimately be good for Santander’s CEO and shareholders as well as the financial system as a whole,” said Mr. Kelleher.
“Contrast that to the shocking behavior of the board of directors at JP Morgan Chase last week: the bank’s so-called independent directors just gave the CEO a 74% raise for a year in which the bank paid a record-shattering amount of more than $20 billion in fines and other payments for widespread illegal and criminal behavior, much of which happened on his watch and under his nose. That looks more like subservience than independence,” Mr. Kelleher concluded.
Better Markets is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that promotes the public interest in financial reform in the domestic and global capital and commodity markets. Better Markets advocates for transparency, oversight, and accountability with the goal of a stronger, safer financial system that is less prone to crisis and failure, thereby eliminating or minimizing the need for more taxpayer funded bailouts.