British PM might intervene on RBS bonuses

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British Prime Minister David Cameron said Friday that his government might prevent state-rescued Royal Bank of Scotland from paying out hefty bonuses to its investment bankers.

Cameron spoke out after reports emerged that RBS, which is 83 percent state-owned, would pay £500 million ($803 million, 586 million euros) in bonuses to its bankers.

He said that figure had not been agreed upon and the government would have a "very big influence" on the bonus payments handed out at RBS this year.

"The British government is a major shareholder in RBS. That is a proposal I have read about in the newspapers; that's not agreed," he told BBC radio.

"We have a very big influence over it. We can stop the £500 million, absolutely."

RBS was given a huge state bailout in 2008 as it struggled to cope in the global financial crisis.

Many were angered when the rescued bank then doled out £950 million ($1.5 billion, 1.1 billion euros) in bonuses to its employees in 2010.

Cameron vowed he would not go to war with the banks but said he wanted to see "responsibility.

"We could spend the next six months having a war of words and a great big fight with the banks about everything," he said.

"I think that would be betraying our duty. Our duty is to settle this issue ... and then to get the banks lending.

"Because the real need in our economy is to get growth, to get jobs, to start up new businesses, to get businesses employing people, and you can't do that if your entire life is spent at war with the banks.

"The right side of the argument is the one that says 'Make sure there is responsibility but at the same time get the banks lending' and that is what we are doing."

© 2011 AFP

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