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Lose billions, get millions…

Shareholders in El Paso Corp. (EP) , a Houston-based energy company that bears a passing resemblance to another Houston-based energy company, have lost billions on the stock. But at least they can rest easy knowing that the person who was steering the ship — former Chairman and CEO William Wise — received a hefty severance package when he was shown the door last year. In El Paso’s long-awaited K filed earlier today, the company disclosed lots of interesting information, including the fact that shareholders equity had declined by $2.4 billion due to restatements dating back to 1999. In 2000, for example, the restatement meant that the company made 93 cents a share, a far cry from the $2.19 that was reported. Wise, however, received over $3 million on his way out the door. But, even that’s not enough. In May, after El Paso stopped paying Wise, he filed an arbitration claim seeking additonal unspecified perquisites. While it’s not clear what those perks are, the K does disclose some previous perks given to Wise, including multi-million loans to purchase a lavish home in Houston and to buy El Paso stock. When Wise left, the company gave him his car and agreed to purchase the Houston house, no doubt at a tidy profit. Granted, given the multiple investigations El Paso is facing, this isn’t the most serious issue facing investors. But it does show how there’s still no relationship between performance and payoffs.