Three hundred million euros is how much the European Central Bank will spend this year and next on an elite group to monitor the region’s top banks.
The new watchdog’s job is to oversee a clean-up, restoring the shattered confidence in the financial sector.
A big chunk of the budget will go on generous pay for many of its staff.
Top supervisors will get low-tax salaries of up to 245,000 euros a year.
That cash will come from a levy on the banks rather than from taxpayers ,but the big wage bill will fuel the debate about fat-cat salaries for EU officials.
The ECB defended what it called “comparatively good conditions” as necessary to recruit qualified staff.
“You need to have some good people,” said Steven Keuning, the ECB’s budget chief, told reporters on Tuesday. “This is not amounting to a very lavish bureaucracy.”
But the timing is not good amid the anger that has boosted protest parties during elections to the European Parliament in France, Britain and austerity battered countries like Greece.
The watchdog’s chief, Daniele Nouy, has not disclosed her salary.
The hiring spree, which has prompted a flood of 8,000 applications to work for the “Single Supervisory Mechanism” (SSM).
There has been wide interest from bankers, many of whom have lost their jobs as the industry slims down.
For some bankers involved with risk management, for example, the hiring in Frankfurt offers hope in an often barren jobs market.