Goldman Sachs chief executive Paulson paid $21.4m

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The carnival of cash on Wall Street was on full display again yesterday after Goldman Sachs revealed in regulatory filings that it paid its chairman and chief executive officer, Henry Paulson, $21.4m (£11.3m) last year, nearly double his entire 2002 package.

Mr Paulson, who took the top job at Goldman in 1999 just before the financial industry's downturn, is not alone in seeing the rewards of the recent financial turnaround on Wall Street. William Harrison, the chairman of JP Morgan, was paid $20m in 2003 and other brokerage chiefs are thought to have taken home similar sums.

Goldman said Mr Paulson, 57, received no bonus, a $600,000 salary and $20.8m in restricted stock grants. John Thain, who left the No 2 spot at the brokerage recently to take over the New York Stock Exchange, did almost as well, with a $20.1m package.

Astronomic compensation deals are controversial with some investors who are watchful for signs of excess. These huge sums are being paid, however, after Wall Street saw its third most profitable year on record in 2003. Members of the NYSE made pre-tax profits of about $15bn, compared with $6.9bn in 2002.

New York officials recently suggested that bonuses paid to 161,000 people on Wall Street last year amounted to $10.7bn, up 25 per cent from the previous year.

Mr Paulson is widely considered one of the most formidable of Wall Street's bosses, credited with making Goldman Sachs more aggressive worldwide. He has also been involved in the recent shake-up of the NYSE.