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Banks 'rushing through bonuses
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02/07/2009 09:22 AM
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There has been speculation that banks may be seeking to rush through bonuses for thousands of high-earning staff before an expected government crackdown.
Expectations of a cap on bonuses in banks dependent on state aid were heightened on Thursday when Prime Minister Gordon Brown said payments at the Royal Bank of Scotland must reflect the overall conditions in the economy and the performance of the bank.
The Times reported that bosses at Barclays Group and Lloyds were planning bonus payouts running into hundreds of millions of pounds to top executives and more junior staff over the coming weeks.
There was anger on Thursday at reports that RBS, which is being propped up with £20 billion of public money and is 68% owned by the Government, was preparing to make payouts to thousands of senior staff.
Now it is reported that Lloyds, which has taken £17 billion in government rescue money, is ready to pay out hundreds of millions in bonuses.
And Barclays, which has tapped Bank of England loans and guarantees running into billions of pounds, is thought to be planning to pay £1.7 billion to traders and dealmakers in Wall Street under the terms of its acquisition of part of the collapsed Lehman Brothers, reported The Times.
US president Barack Obama's proposal of a 500,000 dollar (£346,450) cap on payments to American bank executives who participated in the US bailout has led to speculation that a similar deal may be in the offing in the UK.
Downing Street would say only that the terms of incentive packages for senior executives were the subject of continuing discussions between the Treasury and the banks.
Mr Brown told a Downing Street news conference on Thursday that there were no bonuses being paid to RBS board members and no dividends to shareholders. And he added: "I strongly agree with President Obama that a new approach, the one that we introduced in October, is required to reward senior banking executives.
"Of course, we will bring forward further proposals as necessary. We expect whatever decisions are taken to reflect the conditions of the economy and the performance of the banks. There are no rewards for failure in what we are proposing."
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