Bailed-out banker gets a big bonus

Associated Press / March 9, 2011

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LONDON — The Royal Bank of Scotland, Britain’s largest government-owned bank, said chief executive Stephen Hester has been awarded a stock bonus currently valued at $7.2 million under a long-term incentive plan.

The award comes on top of salary and a previous bonus, bringing his potential compensation for 2010 to more than $12.4 million.

Bonuses are a hot topic in Britain, where the Big Four banks — Barclays, RBS, Lloyds Banking Group, and HSBC — agreed to rein them in. But that deal has been criticized for lack of enforcement.

The trade union Unite was quick to condemn Hester’s bonus. “While most taxpayers continue to suffer during tough economic times the top bankers . . . celebrate their ludicrous bonuses,’’ said the union’s general secretary, Len McCluskey.

RBS is 83 percent taxpayer owned after a state bailout.