Belgian city pulls out millions in protest at bank bonuses

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The Belgian city of Ghent withdrew Friday more than 30 million euros ($43 million) from accounts with national banks Dexia and KBC in protest over bonus payments to executives.

"This is a reaction to the tidy bonuses awarded to bosses," the city's financial controller Christophe Peeters told the national Belga news agency.

"When the banks were in the doldrums, public money bailed them out," he said. "Now that things have picked up, the banks are going back to the same old ways.

"We're not just saying it's unethical -- we're acting... in the only language they understand: money."

Northern Ghent's city hall also threatened to switch its business to banks that do not dish out "unreasonable" bonuses to bosses if no change in policy was readily identified.

KBC expressed regret, accepting it was any depositor's right to withdraw at any time for any reason, while Dexia insisted its bonus policies were fully in line with post-crisis tightened European Union guidelines.

Earlier this month, Dexia announced it would pay some 600,000 euros in 2010 bonuses to boss Pierre Mariani.

© 2011 AFP

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