HSBC has given 15 of its top directors shares worth more than £7 million, as banks start to find ways around European bonus cap rules.

Chief executive Stuart Gulliver was a big recipient of the so-called fixed pay allowance award receiving 135,458 shares, with a value of almost £795,000. Mr Gulliver immediately sold 63,666 shares at £6.26 each to raise £398,587 to cover the cost of tax liabilities relating to the award.

In total HSBC issued 1.13 million shares with Samir Assaf, chief executive of global banking and markets, receiving the largest chunk with his 240,318, valued at more than £1.5 million. He sold 112,950 to cover the tax.

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HSBC said the shares were part of a fixed remuneration package for the staff involved.

RBS handed out £3.4m of shares to 10 executives earlier this week.