Downing Street won’t micro-manage bonuses

| January 30, 2012
Downing Street won’t ‘micro-manage bonuses’

Speaking to the BBC after the Royal Bank of Scotland’s chief executive announced his decision to forgo his bonus this year, the government has said that it will not block bonuses to the bank’s other executives.

RBS chief executive Stephen Hester was awarded £963,000 in shares but following pressure from public opinion and MPs he decided to follow the example of Lloyds Banking Group’s chief executive and waive his award.

Lloyds chief António Horta-Osório gave up a bonus which could have been worth £2.4m.

“We are not going to micro-manage bonuses,” a Downing Street spokeswoman said.

Bankers’ bonuses have been coming under increasing scrutiny since the 2007 banking crisis and with most banks expected to record a drop in revenues this year, the bonuses have been perceived as a reward for failure.

Banks’ investment banking operations suffered poor trading last year and multi- billion pound payouts for mis-sold payment protection insurance (PPI) have resulted in lower income which will reduce underlying profits.

Although Downing Street now plans to leave the question of bonuses to RBS’s management, Labour says it will continue to closely monitor the bonuses awarded to senior staff at RBS which is 66 per cent owned by the government.

At a European Parliament hearing in Brussels today, the European Union said it may impose tighter regulations on banks’ bonus payments to staff if they go against “all reason, common sense and morality.”

Michel Barnier, the European Union’s financial-services commissioner, may tighten up laws which govern banks across the EU if excessive bonuses continue to be paid.

One idea under consideration if for the role a bank’s shareholders play in setting pay awards to be strengthened.

Mr Barnier said the European Commission, the executive body of the European Union, will be “extremely vigilant” in monitoring bonuses paid by banks in 2012.

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