Mention greedy bankers and the name Sir Fred Goodwin automatically comes into the conversation. He is the former boss of Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), who was forced to step down with a pension of £693,000 a year. He has become the focus of all that was wrong within the failing banking industry; he was paid off with a huge amount of money for presiding over a financial disaster.
Of course, the prime minister and a variety of his ministers, have publicly demanded that Sir Fred hand back the money he has received, after billions of pounds of our funds were poured into the RBS to save it. Sir Fred has – so far at least – refused.
There has even been mention of legal action against Sir Fred, but so far nothing has been attempted. Probably, that is because in legal terms, he has done nothing wrong. He has walked away with a ridiculous sum of money that was negotiated with the full knowledge of the governing bodies of both the RBS and the country.
Of course, morality is another matter and there are serious questions that reach beyond the case of Sir Fred about the excessive amounts of money, it has become the norm to pay in compensation, to those who have failed in the corporate world. A similar argument relates to the paying of huge bonuses.
My own view is he should not have been awarded anything.
But, for the moment, it is convenient to use Sir Fred’s name to deflect the awkward questions about the government’s knowledge, or participation, in the lead up to the present financial nightmare. Like any good magician, they are using distraction tactics against us.
Maybe Sir Fred is starting to earn his money now!