The behaviour of the executives who run our delinquent financial institutions continues to be a national disgrace.
Last week, Royal Bank of Scotland announced 1400 job losses only 48 hours after yet another round of multi-million-pound bonuses. £607 million went to the pockets of executives who last year delivered – wait for it – a loss of £5.2 billion. So much for performance-related pay.
And so much for shareholder democracy. Clearly, investors in RBS have no control over the remuneration policies of people who run it – otherwise they would be handing out P45s, not bonuses. RBS had to set aside £1.1 billion last year in compensation for mis-selling Payment Protection Insurance to its customers. It is also in the dock for mis-selling interest rate swaps to small businesses – which led to many small concerns going under.
In 2012, RBS was fined £390m for fixing Libor – the London Inter Bank Offered Rate. This is an interest rate that underpins literally trillions of investments worldwide and affects the level of mortgage repayments for hundreds of thousands of people. RBS employees had been caught by regulators lying about the rate of Libor with a view to personal gain. Amazingly, the discovery of this fraudulent activity – spotted by US regulators, not our own feeble Financial Services Authority – has not led to the criminal prosecution of any of the RBS employees involved.
What is wrong with Britain that we demonise those people who, through no fault of their own, have to claim benefits, while allowing those responsible for what has been described as "one of the greatest market manipulations in the history of finance" to get off scot free?
All Chancellor George Osborne appears to be interested in is privatising Royal Bank of Scotland for whatever the private sector is prepared to pay. We will all be the poorer as the government writes off a large part of the £45bn we paid to prop up the bank in 2008. And by privatising, intact, this manifestly incompetent and law-breaking bank, he is surely laying the ground for the next financial crisis.
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