Greed On the High Seas: "Poop Cruise" & Concordia Cruise Executive Cashes $395,000,000 of Carnival Stock
Last week I wrote an article about Royal Caribbean CEO and President Adam Goldstein cashing in over $2,300,000 worth of Royal Caribbean stock, still leaving him with around $19,000,000 worth of his company's stock.
It's difficult to justify the enormous wealth of the cruise executives given the fact that the cruise business is rigged to create gigantic profits free of U.S. taxes. Cruise lines like Royal Caribbean (Liberia) and Carnival (Panama) incorporated in foreign countries in order to avoid U.S. taxes, labor and wage laws, and safety regulations. The cruise lines pay dirt cheap wages to laborers from India and the Caribbean islands. They provide no benefits at all to their loyal crew members.
Cruise executive compensation isn't tied to whether the line's ships sink or catch on fire. One of the Royal Caribbean cruise ships, the Grandeur of the Seas, caught on fire for two hours last year yet cruise CEO Goldstein still raked in millions. Cruise executives are rewarded for squeezing blood out of the stone.
Tax-fee Royal Caribbean pays a salary of only $50 a month to its waiters and cabin attendants who it works like dogs, relying on the tax-paying cruise passengers to pay tips so the employees can try and make a living. Yet Royal Caribbean is stealing, some say, some of the passenger money intended for tips and using the "tips" to pay the salaries of the non-tip earning crew members. Last year Royal Caribbean fired over one-hundred employees in its corporate offices here in Miami because of "tough economic times." Yet the cruise line executives like CEO Goldstein and chairman Richard Fain still pocketed millions and millions and millions at the end of the year.
No doubt the cruise employees are getting the shaft. The crew is getting poorer while the fat cat executives are getting richer and richer.
The greediest cruise executive in my opinion is, hands down, no doubt-about-it, by-far Micky Arison. He makes Goldstein look like chump change. Arison is the news this weekend after agreeing to sell up to 10 million shares of Carnival Corporation stock. At $39.50 per share, that's $395,000,000. 5 million shares were sold on Friday and the remaining shares will be sold over the next 15 months, After the sale is complete, the Arison family will still own 188,000,000 shares worth over $7,426,000,000.
What will multi-billionaire Arison do with the $395,000,000? Build medical clinics in Goa, India where most of his crew members come from? Fund the retirement benefits for his hard working Filipino crew members who have slaved away far-from-their-children for decades on his ships? Create schools in Nicaragua where thousands of family members of Carnival crew members reside? No, no, no. The nearly $400 million in cash will be solely for his own tax and estate planning.
CEO Arison paid himself a $90,000,000 bonus in 2002 - the same year of the Costa Concordia disaster. In my assessment, he seems like a money hoarder without a social conscious. Here are some of the infamous incidents involving Carnival Corporation and its brands over the last few years:
- Terminating the retirement programs of all Filipino crew members;
- Misappropriating the tips of crew members;
- Firing and black-balling 150 crew members who protested unreasonably low wages & tips; and
- Offering cruise passenger survivors only 11,000 euros after the deadly Costa Concordia disaster, but rewarding the Costa CEO millions in salary and bonuses.
It is an amazing spectacle to watch Arison enrich himself irrespective of the Concordia capsizing and the Triumph engine room fire.
Just last week we commented on Carnival's press release, issued during the middle of the Triumph "poop cruise" trial here in Miami. Carnival characterized the cruise passengers, who endured four days in the Gulf of Mexico after the negligently maintained old ship caught fire, as greedy.
I suppose it's business as usual for Carnival to malign its Triumph cruise guests while chairman Arison is cashing in a fraction of his cruise stock during the middle of the Triumph trial for $395,000,000.
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