Barclays Announces £38.5m Bonuses on Budget Day

Pointing The Finger

Barclays has been accused of trying to "bury bad news" by announcing it has given its top nine bankers bonuses worth £38.5m while the City is distracted by the budget.

The bank, which promised it was "changing" in the wake of the Libor rate-rigging scandal, awarded the head of its investment banking division, Rich Ricci, £17.5m worth of shares. He immediately cashed in all of the shares.

Barclays chief executive Antony Jenkins was awarded 1.8m shares worth £5.3m. He cashed in half of the shares.

Last month Barclays said Jenkins and Ricci would not be collecting a bonus this year after the bank was fined £290m over the Libor rate-rigging scandal.

The awards announced on Wednesday were granted under the company's long-term share incentive plan.

Barclays refused to respond to claims that it attempted to "bury" the massive bonuses by announcing them on budget day.

Sarah Wilson, chief executive of corporate governance consultancy Manifest, said: "They know everyone is going to be very busy, so releasing the information today is an interesting tactic. There's no two ways of looking at it - they would have known the budget is today."

She warned Barclays that its tactic was likely to misfire. "They can't hide it from you thinking you're going to be too busy writing about the budget to notice it."

A person close to the company said the date of the release had been planned long before the budget. George Osborne set today as budget day on 11 December. The person close to Barclays said the bank only realised its bonuses release would clash with the budget "within the last few days".

Wilson said corporate governance rules required Barclays to make the release at least 21 days before its annual meeting on 25 April.

"They could have released it yesterday, they could've done it tomorrow. They could have done it last week," she said. "They didn't have to do it today."

John Hunter, a policy member of the UK shareholder association, which aims to protect the rights of private shareholders, said Barclays' decision to release the bonus figures on Wednesday was "sneaky".

"They are trying to bury bad news," he said. "It is a standard PR tactic. It is an attempt to get a story about their massive bonuses off the front pages – you should make a greater effort to make sure the public know about it.

"Society's first reaction is that bankers are a bunch of sleazeballs, and this makes them look even sleazier."

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Rupert Neate, for guardian.co.uk on Wednesday 20th March 2013 13.34 Europe/London

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image: © Lisamarie Babik

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