Money for nothing, and this dick’s scot free…
March 2, 2009
Harriet Harman has said former Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) chief Sir Fred Goodwin should not “count on” keeping his full £650,000 a year pension.
The deputy Labour leader described the pension settlement – agreed by the RBS board – as “money for nothing”.
The sum was unacceptable in “the court of public opinion,” she told the BBC, and the government “would step in”…
Ms Harman said Sir Fred, 50, should agree to waive some of the cash, saying this was the most “honourable” thing to do.
“Sir Fred Goodwin should not count on being £650,000 a year better off because it is not going to happen,” she told BBC One’s Andrew Marr show.
Ministers have said they would be prepared to take legal action and other unspecified measures to recover some of the money, saying the pay-out is inconsistent with the disastrous state that Sir Fred left the bank in.
Before accepting the Andrew Marr interview and citing the “court of public opinion”, perhaps Harriet Harman should be reminded that the reason Fred Goodwin is able to take the money and run with no observable legal recourse (nobody is eager to empower the government to arbitrarily seize their pension) is Ministerial incompetence. Public wrath isn’t reserved exclusively for the banker and wont be ameliorate by a long court case should Goodwin exercise his right to defend a legal challenge.
The only real question is whether public appetite is genuinely hostile enough to free the government to bankrupt RBS and nationalise the bank entirely. This seems the only option to stop the pension arrangement.