Good day to bury bad news? Big Barclays bonuses slammed

Two banking chiefs awarded a total of £39.5m in bonuses, with the news announced on Budget day

LAST UPDATED AT 10:43 ON Thu 21 Mar 2013

WAS yesterday a good day to bury bad news for Barclays? The bank has been accused of trying to divert attention from the announcement that it had paid its top executives a total of £39.5m in bonuses by making it on the day of the Budget.

Rich Ricci, head of the bank's investment arm, received £17.6m of shares while chief executive Antony Jenkins - who called last month for a new era of restraint on bonuses - was awarded 1.8 million shares, worth £5.3m, says The Guardian.

Ricci, who owns 11 horses that raced at the Cheltenham Festival last week, immediately cashed in his shares. One of Ricci's horses was named Fatcatinthehat - possibly a reference to its owner, who was photographed at the races in a trilby.

The news provoked angry reactions from equality campaigners, shareholders groups and MPs. Labour's John Man, who sits on the Treasury select committee said the bonuses were "extraordinarily greedy considering the number of people who have suffered because of the banking crisis".

Sarah Wilson, chief executive of corporate governance consultancy Manifest, dubbed them a "staggering reward for failure" and accused the bank of trying to "bury" the news.

A spokesman for the Robin Hood Tax Campaign said: "A scandal-hit bank attempting to bury news of its grotesque rewards on Budget day is hardly evidence of a reformed financial sector.

"This tells you all you need to know – banks cannot be trusted to put their own house in order; the government must intervene to bring them back into line."

John Hunter of the UK Shareholders' Association said: "Society's first reaction is that bankers are a bunch of sleazeballs, and this makes them look even sleazier."

One source close to Barclays told the Guardian that the decision to release the news yesterday had been taken before the date for the Budget was known and that the bank only realised the two would clash "within the last few days". The Budget date was set on 11 December. · 

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