4. Chesapeake Energy CEO Aubrey McClendon
Truth be told, most of the damage Aubrey McClendon inflicted on Chesapeake Energy (CHK) as CEO occurred in 2012. He was only the chief of the natural gas explorer for a few weeks in early 2013 before being fired in January. Yet even in his firing he managed to log one last controversy.
How could he do even more damage by walking out the door? After all, Aubrey McClendon sent Chesapeake into a troubling cash-strapped situation and personally borrowed money from a business associate of the company’s. Oh yeah … he was also running a $200 million hedge fund that traded oil and gas futures, creating a curious conflict of interest as the head of a company that develops oil and gas wells. McClendon could potentially personally profit from the very thing that could (and almost did) crush CHK.
Answer: By being fired — “without cause” — rather than retiring, McClendon banked another $47 million on top of the $300 million he earned over the span of the prior five years. His termination also meant the $11 million debt he owed the company from a 2008 bonus was ultimately forgiven. All of the excess compensation ultimately comes out of the pockets of CHK stock holders, too.