"On Dec. 23, (Wells Fargo & Co.) returned to the Treasury the $25 billion it had borrowed under the U.S. government's Troubled Asset Relief Program.

"That freed the bank from the Treasury's (limits) on executive pay.

"The next day, the board made John Stumpf the best-paid chief executive officer of the 50 biggest financial companies by awarding him shares of Wells Fargo stock valued at about $10 million," reports Bloomberg here.

Stumpf's total pay, including salary and stock, hit $21.3 million, making him #1 among the top 50 financial companies CEOs in Bloomberg Markets' yearly list.

By contrast, "in 2009, many of the CEOs of big financial firms shunned the huge paydays that embarrassed them during the meltdown of 2008." For example, Goldman Sachs boss Lloyd Blankfein collected under $1 million, down from over $40 million the year before.

Wells Fargo owns Wachovia Corp., the dominant bank in Philadelphia and some other big East Coast makets.