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Putting on a little rouge for Avon’s new CFO…

The last couple years have almost been enough to give a management frown lines at Avon Products (AVP), the global marketer of eyeshadow, concealer and other cosmetics.

An internal probe into bribery allegations in China and elsewhere has been running since 2008, racking up more than $100 million in costs. Four senior managers in Asia were let go during the spring after several months on administrative leave, as we noted in a May issue of our Red Flag Alert (PDF by subscription only). No surprise, the plaintiffs’ lawyers have been drawn into the fray: In early July, a would-be class-action shareholder suit joined the fistful of other litigation already facing the company.

And shareholders haven’t had much to be thrilled about for a while now.

But in the executive suite, there are apparently other priorities, including real-estate. More specifically, housing for one Kimberly Ross, the incoming chief financial officer.

For the last decade, Ross worked at Dutch supermarket conglomerate Royal Ahold, most recently as CFO. Life as an executive expat in the Netherlands is no doubt a tough lot, so Avon is making the homecoming a little easier by giving Ross a hand on her return to the United States and Avon’s Manhattan headquarters: a discount on her mortgage. Her employment letter agreement, filed as an exhibit to the company’s recent 10-Q, gives the details:

—Should you decide to purchase a home . . . Avon will provide a special bonus in three installments, intended to reimburse you for three percentage points of interest on your mortgage in year one, two percentage points of interest on your mortgage in year two and one percentage point of interest on your mortgage in year three (up to a mortgage of $1,000,000) . . . Should you decide to rent a home, you will instead receive a special bonus in line with the rental subsidy benefit provided under our relocation policy.

Given that interest rates still hover near all-time lows, that’s a generous offer indeed. It’s also new — a previous summary of her repatriation benefits, in an 8-K from May 23, didn’t mention the specific numbers.

Ross isn’t hurting on other fronts, either. She’s also getting a $300,000 cash sign-on bonus and at least $1.8 million in restricted stock units to go along with her $750,000-a-year salary, $675,000 target bonus and $1.7 million in target annual equity awards.

Avon casts itself as a different kind of company, in any number of ways. And it’s far from the first to have run into corruption problems in China — there’s even concern that corruption in general may have undermined safety in the country’s high-speed rail system. As for a sagging stock price, this week at least, Avon has plenty of company.

And, of course, we’ve also footnoted all too many filings that detail lavish housing and moving benefits for top brass — see Wynn Resorts (WYNN), Scotts Miracle Gro (SMG), St. Joe (JOE), and Hertz (HTZ), to name just four.

Sometimes it takes more than a little makeup to stand out.