Britain’s Royal Bank of Scotland is again the target of public outrage with fresh protests at its branches after the lender awarded over 925 million euros in bonuses to some staff for last year.
The bonuses were paid despite the bank posting a fourth-quarter loss of two billion euros.
Chief Executive Stephen Hester explained some of the losses are from costly restructuring: “We are defusing the biggest banking time bomb in history. In three years the people at RBS have reduced the risks on our balance sheet by 700 billion pounds (825 billion euros), which – by the way – is roughly twice the size of the entire Greek national debt.”
Hester also complained that the protests over bonuses are hurting the bank commercially: “The noise around RBS is damaging. It’s damaging to RBS achieving its goals.”
The anger is because RBS is 82 percent owned by the British government after being rescued with a bailout of over fifty three billion euros of taxpayers money.
The latest losses also include big writedowns on loans in Greece and Ireland.
RBS Chairman Philip Hampton and Hester waived their bonuses earlier this month after politicians from all of Britain’s major parties called on them to refuse the awards.
The bonuses for last year are down 43 percent from 2010. British Finance Minister George Osborne and the spokesman for Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron both backed RBS’s bonus cuts and welcomed the progress in its recovery plan.