Bankers' very happy new year: RBS boss gets £1.5m shares after three months in job as 115 Goldman Sachs executives pocket £3m each
- Ross McEwan only took over the State-backed bank in October
- He was given stock as compensation for missing out on bonuses
- Announcement made after markets closed for New Year holiday
- Archbishop says foreign banks 'in denial' about their role in crisis
- Barclays boss admits it could take decade for sector to win back trust
Fury over bankers' pay erupted again last night after the new boss of RBS was quietly handed an astonishing £1.5million in free shares.
Ross McEwan, who only took over the State-backed bank in October, was given the stock as compensation for missing out on bonuses at his previous employer.
The announcement was made after markets closed for the New Year holiday, and was seemingly designed to attract minimum publicity.
Mr McEwan's payout emerged as Goldman Sachs revealed 'obscene' pay deals worth more than £3 million each to 115 of its senior bankers.
The bumper packages were disclosed as Archbishop Justin Welby said foreign-owned banks in the City of London were 'in denial' about their role in the financial crisis, and Barclays boss Antony Jenkins admitted it could take a decade for the sector to win back public trust.
Deborah Hargreaves, of the High Pay Centre, said: 'When you look at the pay everyone else is getting, to see bankers on that kind of salary is just not justified.'
She added: 'We live in a country where some people are being forced to go to food banks because they can't feed themselves, so it's obscene to see bankers being paid £3 million on average. It's an outrageous indictment of a civilised society.'
New Zealand-born Mr McEwan, who is paid a basic salary of £1 million, was given 454,106 RBS shares when he joined the bank in 2012 as its head of UK retail to make up for leaving his job at Commonwealth Bank in Australia. In October, he became chief executive after Stephen Hester walked away from the role.
The 454,106 shares were paid out to Mr McEwan yesterday, with a value of £1.53 million. RBS issued a statement confirming the figures only after the stock market had closed for the year.
Mr McEwan immediately sold 214,019 of the shares to cover tax liabilities arising from the vesting, but will hold on to 240,087 shares, worth £816,775, which he will not be able to sell for six months.
He is entitled to a further 1.05million shares – worth £3.5 million based on RBS's closing price yesterday of £3.38. They can't be vested until August 2015.
An RBS spokesman said: 'Ross McEwan will not sell any shares in RBS while he is chief executive of the bank. He wants everyone to have confidence that his interests are 100 per cent aligned with our customers and our shareholders, including UK taxpayers.'
Goldman, meanwhile, said 115 of its top staff around the world shared a cash pool worth £122 million, or more than £1 million each.
But senior bankers are also entitled to a bonus paid in shares, which are awarded in three instalments and cannot be cashed in for five years.
The shares are currently worth a combined £250 million, or £2.2 million for each recipient. Taken with the cash, this adds up to a payout of more than £3 million a head.
Goldman employs 5,000 staff in London and 32,400 worldwide. The bank's role in the global crisis came under heavy scrutiny in 2010, when it was slapped with a £333 million fine by US regulators over claims that it misled investors.
New rules limiting what banks in the European Union can pay in bonuses come into force today. They will be banned from paying bonuses worth more than a banker's annual salary, or twice as much as their pay if sanctioned by shareholders. But most banks are expected to raise basic pay in order to offset the decline.
'I don't want to name names but I came across some people recently who were senior members of the City from foreign organisations, but who were very clearly still absolutely in denial about what happened in 2008,' he said.
Mr Welby called on banks to think harder about their role in society. But he was forced to admit that the Church had yet to sell £80,000 worth of shares in Wonga, the controversial payday lender that has been attacked for charging sky-high interest rates.
Mr Jenkins, speaking in his role as a guest editor of Radio 4's Today programme, said: 'Trust is a very easy thing to lose and a very hard thing to win back. In my view it will take several years – probably five to ten – to rebuild trust in Barclays.'
Mr McEwan's first three months as chief executive have been beset by problems, including an IT failure that left 750,000 customers of RBS, NatWest and Ulster Bank unable to use their credit and debit cards for hours. He branded the failure 'unacceptable' and vowed to 'do better'.