Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Economists reveal Barclays bosses' greed

From today's Morning Star
by Lizzie Cocker

Left economists have derided a bid by top Barclays chiefs to defuse public anger over the banking crisis by waiving their own bonuses - pointing out the firm's president was already sitting on a £22m share deal.

After reporting higher than expected profits of £11.6bn for 2009, Barclays announced its bankers would be rewarded with £1.5bn in cash bonuses and £1.2bn in long-term awards.

However for the second year running chief executive John Varley and president Bob Diamond said they would not take part in the cash bonanza.

The Left Economics Advisory Panel (LEAP) stepped in on Tuesday to slam Mr Diamond over the millions he has earned from selling shares in Barclays Global Investors.

A LEAP spokesman said: "The hubris around the supposed modesty of Bob Diamond in refusing his bonus is somewhat undermined by the fact that he received £22m in share sales this year on top of his alleged eight-figure salary."

The average bonus at the bank's investment arm BarCap was £95,000, while elsewhere in the company bonuses were around £19,000.

And it is predicted that as other banks announce results over the next fortnight 10,000 City workers will rack up pay and bonuses worth over £1m each.

The LEAP spokesman said the massive profits and bosses highlighted "the failure of governments to change the culture of the banks."

Mr Varley said he had reduced the bonus pool to pay for the government's 50 per cent tax on bonuses over £25,000.

Barclays alone handed over £225m to the government out of a £550m sum Chancellor Alistair Darling expected the tax to raise from all banks.

But some pundits argued that more public finances could be raised through a transaction tax which would enable the taxpayer to see a share of Barclays gross assets of £1.4 trillion.

Communist Party of Britain general secretary Rob Griffiths asked: "How can it be right that a banker speculating with other people's money can receive more in annual bonuses than a hospital porter or a bus driver can earn in a decade?"

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