Ignorance is bliss for bank bonus critics

THE Treasury might be wishing it could close the barn door today after Barclays’ revealed that the bank’s top executives are in line for pay-outs of up to £14m each, provided they meet performance targets.

Jerry del Missier and Rich Ricci, the executives in question, run Barclays Capital, the bank’s investment banking division, and have the dubious honour of being BarCap’s first chiefs ever to have their pay packets published.

They were disclosed as part of Project Merlin, the deal that banks struck with George Osborne in order to repair their image and move on from a period of public anger about bankers’ pay.

The irony is particularly rich given that it was Barclay’s former chief executive John Varley who pushed the deal through in the first place.

Critics will hardly be mollified by the fact that Bob Diamond’s £6.5m bonus relates to a year in which he headed BarCap, rather than the whole bank, or that pay previously assigned but not yet handed over to senior staff was cut by £91m after their performances failed to meet targets.

Instead, they point to dismal returns for shareholders over the medium-term:?the bank’s share price has yet to scale its heady pre-crisis highs of 700p. But, in a more reasonable comparison, it also drifted downwards over the course of 2010, beginning at 276p and ending at 260p.

Until shareholders raise their own complaints, however, the government’s greater transparency requirements won’t serve to do much except whip up further public fury.