One VP told me once privately that he got his offer incl. comp package directly from his SVP before even being in contact with HR. They knew each other from their previous consulting firm and he didn't even submit his resume to HR.
I had several dealings with HR in context with several applications in the past 2 years. Each time, HR was just a paper pusher, and a bad one at that. I have never seen something like this anywhere else -- but the HR and the cronyism -- they all deserve to be fired. Unfortunately, they will play the "last in -- first out" crony game.