A number of violent incidents have begun to alter the character of the Banking Crisis in the U.K. The most recent has been the storming of an R.B.S. branch during the G20 protests, preceded shortly before by the damage to the home of the Bank’s former Chief Executive, Sir Fred Goodwin. The focus of this violent attention towards R.B.S. has been associated with the news that Goodwin is to take an annual pension of £700,000 a year, and totalling around £19 million over the next twenty years. That the manager of a failing bank, accepting taxpayer’s money can receive a sum equivalent to the salary of about 40 employees on average pay appears inconceivable. His treatment appears in even starker contrast with the revelation that the bank will soon be shelling 9,000 jobs.
However, further attention to this story reveals even more startling levels of deception. After receiving public financing the R.B.S. was under obligation to accept oversight from government ministers, the most prominent of which has been Lord Myners. Recently questioned under a Treasury select Committee, Myners has claimed that despite being there under the specific direction of monitoring spending and finances he was unaware of the figure of Goodwin’s pension, and that it had been more than doubled from the original figure of £300,000 p/a. He claimed that these ‘distinguished bankers’ had to be given a free reign, and that it would not be in the bank’s, or the public’s interest, to scrupulously examine their budget. One might ask why he was present at all if he was not willing to undertake the task set out for him. He has been generous enough to carry out his duties without accepting a ministerial salary, although this may be explained by his previous employment history, together with the reasons for his lenient attitude towards R.B.S. Having previously worked for Rothschild & Sons he moved to Gartmore, and then Natwest, which in turn became a subsidiary of the same R.B.S. Natwest’s annual report in 1999 reveals that Myners was entitled to a salary of £99,800. Whilst he has claimed that this has no relevance to the current crisis or government bailout, it remains significant by the fact that he too received a sizeable pension despite being unable to prevent the sale of his bank. Proof that old sympathies die hard has been found in evidence that Myners did know of the figure designated for Goodwin’s pension and deliberately denied this under investigation. Despite decrying those individuals who have been, ‘grossly over-rewarded,’ over the last ten years, he appears not only to have assisted one of them, but to have been one of them himself.
Afterword: Fred Goodwin was fortunately not at home during the attack to his property, he is currently living in Switzerland, a country famed for its skiing, chocolate and fine watches; not of course forgetting its low taxes and discreet banking system.