In a move long sought by critics of the massive bank bailouts of recent years, the Treasury Department's "pay czar" will begin a probe of pay and bonuses at bailed out firms to see if any of the payouts can be returned to the government, the Wall Street Journal reports.
But the investigation headed by special master for compensation Kenneth Feinberg will be limited in scope, focusing only on payments to the top 25 executives at bailed-out companies during a short window in late 2008 and early 2009.
The review will capture the 2008 end-of-year bonus season at most large firms.
"Mr. Feinberg can't claw back any pay but can seek to renegotiate any payments he deems 'not in the public interest.' He is required to perform the so-called 'look back' under the legal statute that created the pay czar," the Journal reported.
Soaring executive pay and bonuses drew outrage in many sectors following one of the largest transfers of public wealth to private hands in history.