Cruise chief's €1.3m payoff set to anger Costa Concordia disaster victims
Jim Armitage is the City editor of The Independent and London Evening Standard group of newspapers. He has been a reporter and editor for more than 20 years and was recently shortlisted for the Press Gazette financial journalist of the year and The Society of Editors financial journalist of the year awards. He contributes news, investigative reports and comment to the Independent titles plus a daily column in the Evening Standard.
Wednesday 08 January 2014
The boss of the business that operated the Costa Concordia, the cruise liner that sank off Italy in 2012 killing 32 people, was given a payoff of €1.3m even though he was retiring anyway.
News of the payoff for the Costa Crociere chairman Pier Luigi Foschi is bound to anger victims and relatives of those killed in the disaster, many of whom are still fighting for compensation.
It was Mr Foschi who was the public face of the company after the January 2012 tragedy, instantly blaming the captain of the ship, Francesco Schettino, for steering off the correct course. Mr Schettino's trial is still ongoing and he claims the ship's charts were inaccurate.
A little-noticed filing from the parent company, Carnival, said Mr Foschi was being paid €1m (£830,000) for his "waiver of claims" over the company and €250,000 as compensation for signing an agreement not to join a competitor for a certain period of time.
Mr Foschi, who also acted as chairman and chief executive of Carnival Asia, was paid $3.97m (£2.42m) in 2012, the last year for which accounts have been filed. He has shares in the company worth $4.7m, according to Bloomberg data.
The company said his payoff was merely part of the settlement negotiated with 66-year-old Mr Foschi as part of his retirement package.
Mitchell Proner, a lawyer acting for more than 100 friends and relatives of Concordia victims seeking compensation, said: "There's a phrase in Italian, 'The fish rots from the head down.' It is apropos that he is getting out of there with all that money. But we will not go away. We have clients all over the world dealing with horrible post-traumatic stress and physical injuries, people who lost relatives. But both Carnival and Costa have continually frustrated our efforts to come to any reasonable settlement."
The company has reportedly offered compensation of €11,000 to victims to pay for all damages including the value of the cruise. Last year it was reported that around a third had accepted the offer. It has paid more in certain cases. But many victims have said that is inadequate.
Despite the likely anger of those seeking compensation, Mr Foschi was highly praised yesterday within the company's upper echelons. Carnival's billionaire chairman, Micky Arison, who was criticised by some investors for leaving all the public statements on the Concordia sinking to Mr Foschi, said in an internal memo: "Pier contributed greatly to the success of our company over the years. He's a lifetime friend to all of us at Carnival, and his efforts helped transform our company."
Mr Foschi's long-term colleague and chief operating officer Howard Frank said he "led us to new heights around the world, while also helping us work through some of our most challenging times".
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