UK banks in fresh row over payouts

A fresh row in the UK banking industry ignited on friday when two of Britain's biggest banks, Barclays and bailed out Royal Bank of Scotland, said that 523 of their staff took home more over £1 million in 2012.

RBS, owned 83 per cent by the taxpayer, was accused of having the "best paid public sector workers by a mile" after it admitted for the first time that 95 bankers were handed £1 million (41.5 million) last year even as the bank was slapped a £390 million fine for rigging Libor and suffered a prolonged computer breakdown.

Barclays, fined around $450 million (See: Barclays fined $452 million for Libor, Euribor manipulations) for fixing the  benchmark interest rate, paid 428 staff over £1 million. The pay deals at Barclays put in the shade those at HSBC, Britain's biggest bank, which earlier this week said 204 of its employees received £1 million or more.

The scale of the pay five years on from the banking crisis led Trade Union Congress general secretary Frances O'Grady to remark that the EU cap on bonuses was justified. She said, it was like the financial crisis never happened," she said, as she described the pay as "obscene".

Barclays highlighted the differential between highest and lowest paid staff by admitting that 1,338 of its bankers received over £500,000 while more than half its workforce – 71,581 received £25,000 or less, which led Dominic Hook, national officer at the union Unite to hit out against "the rampant inequality" in the 140,000 strong workforce.

The largest banks in the UK are under pressure to curb  executive pay and cut costs following a series of regulatory missteps. RBS said last month it would cut its bonus pool to help pay the $612 million fine on interest-rate rigging. At Barclays Plc, CEO Antony Jenkins said he would not take a bonus following the Libor scandal.