Anger at fat cat bosses prompts Swiss to approve greater shareholder say

AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email Anger at ‘fat cat’ bosses prompts Swiss to approve greater shareholder say over executive pay by Frank Jordans, The Associated Press Posted Mar 3, 2013 11:42 am MDT BERLIN – Swiss voters voiced their anger at perceived corporate greed Sunday by approving a plan to boost shareholders’ say on executive pay.Some 67.9 per cent of voters backed the “Rip-Off Initiative,” with 32.1 per cent against, according to the official count broadcast by Swiss public television station SRF.The outcome of the referendum was considered a foregone conclusion after opinion polls in recent months showed strong public support for the initiative.News last month that the outgoing board chairman of Swiss drug maker Novartis AG, Daniel Vasella, was to receive a leaving package worth 72 million Swiss francs ($77 million) further fired up public sentiment against “fat cat” bosses. Vasella later said he would forego the deal, but by that time the incident had dashed opponents’ hopes of stopping the initiative.“Today’s vote is the result of widespread unease among the population at the exorbitant remuneration of certain company bosses,” Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga told a news conference in the capital Bern hours after polls closed.Swiss lawmakers will now have to draft a law giving shareholders the right to hold a binding vote on all compensation for company executives and directors. The law will also ban “golden hellos” and “goodbyes” — one-off bonuses that senior managers sometimes receive when joining or leaving a company.It also promotes greater corporate transparency, for example by requiring that all loans to executives be declared and forcing pension funds to tell their members how they voted at shareholder meetings.The measure targets all Swiss-based companies as long as their shares are publicly traded. Breaching the rules could lead to a fine of up to six annual salaries and up to three years in prison.“It’s a powerful signal,” said Thomas Minder, an independent lawmaker and businessman who was one of the main forces behind the Rip-Off Initiative.Opponents conceded that their efforts to warn voters of the possible risks to the Swiss economy had failed.“We will respect the will of the people,” said Pascal Gentinetta, chairman of the powerful business lobby group economiesuisse.But Christa Markwalder, a lawmaker with the pro-business Free Democratic Party, said foreign firms could now think twice about moving their headquarters to Switzerland. In recent years the country has attracted firms such as oil rig owner Transocean Ltd., fire and safety company Tyco International Ltd., and bakery conglomerate Aryzta AG thanks to its comparatively low taxes and light-touch regulation.In Europe, some other countries such as the Netherlands and Denmark already have similar legislation allowing shareholders at least a binding vote on executive compensation. But in the U.S. and Britain such “say-on-pay” votes are non-binding.The Swiss decision comes on the heels of a European Union decision this week to cap bankers’ bonuses at one year’s base salary except in the case of overwhelming shareholder approval.The idea that shareholders should have a strong say in their company’s affairs chimes with Switzerland’s tradition of direct democracy. Voters in the country who collect 100,000 signatures can force a binding referendum on any issue.___Frank Jordans can be reached at read more

Man on drugs spree who murdered girlfriend then jumped from secondstorey window

Dripping in blood, he tried to steal the car before hitting and kicking a number of vehicles, punching and biting a passer-by and attempting to get into another car, the court heard.When police were called, they noticed blood on the window of the flat and went inside, where they discovered Miss Richardson face down on the floor of the kitchen and living room area. Danielle RichardsonCredit:GMP/PA The moment Michael Barler hits a car after jumping from a window following the stabbing A man who stabbed his girlfriend to death before jumping out of a window and attacking passers-by has been jailed for a minimum of 21 years.Michael Marler, 37, was sentenced to life on Friday for the murder of Danielle Richardson, 24, following a trial at Manchester Crown Court, Greater Manchester Police said.Marler, of Brideoak Street, Oldham, had admitted stabbing Miss Richardson in the face, neck and back in an apartment in Manchester city centre after a “drugs spree” but denied that he intended to kill her.The couple had been out to watch a film on the evening of February 12 before returning to the apartment in Ancoats, where they both smoked cannabis and used a crack pipe to take cocaine, the court heard.The following morning, at about 7.30am, CCTV footage showed Marler landing on a car parked outside the flat after jumping 25ft (7.6m) from a second-storey window. Danielle Richardson Police photo of Michael MarlerCredit:GMP/PA The moment Michael Barler hits a car after jumping from a window following the stabbingCredit:Manchester Police “Despite this terrifying and vicious attack, we know Danielle bravely tried to defend herself and fight for her life.”The pain her family have had to endure since this day is truly heart-breaking and no family should ever be put through agony like this.”In a statement, Miss Richardson’s family said: “We can try to repair our heartache although no matter how long the sentence is, it will not bring Dannii back or make our loss any easier. Police photo of Michael Marler Senior investigating officer Bob Tonge said: “Danielle was subjected to the most brutal attack at the hands of Marler. He showed nothing but rage as he relentlessly stabbed her body multiple times, leaving her with no chance of survival. “We need to attempt to move on and hopefully today will now provide closure for our pain over the last few months; however, we will never forget Dannii or the many memories she has given us.”The case was referred to the Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC) due to contact Greater Manchester Police had with Miss Richardson over the two-year period before she died.A spokesman for the IOPC said the investigation was continuing. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. read more