Myners blames RBS board for Goodwin pension
By Alex Stevenson
City minister Paul Myners has again pointed the finger of blame over Sir Fred Goodwin’s pension at the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) board.
Appearing before the Treasury select committee in Westminster this morning, Lord Myners reiterated his position he was unaware of the discretionary nature of the former chief executive’s pension.
The government is currently taking legal advice on how it can ‘claw back’ some of the £693,000 annual pension Sir Fred arranged with RBS before his departure.
Lord Myners, who was in intensive meetings with RBS’ board of directors as the government stepped in to rescue the collapsing bank in mid-October last year, today argued he was too busy with the wider “crisis” unfolding at the time to look into the terms of Sir Fred’s pension.
“There was a limit to what we could do,” he told MPs.
“I did not negotiate, settle or approve Sir Fred’s departure terms. All these issues were settled by RBS.”
But Lord Myners admitted that the head of RBS’ remuneration committee, Bob Scott, had told him Sir Fred’s pension would be “enormous”.
He said he did not ask for an estimate of the figure, adding: “I did not ask roughly how much. It was not for me to seek to micro-manage.
“It is for others to form the view [on whether] I was reasonable and competent.”
Lord Myners argued it was RBS’ responsibility to stick to the principles laid down by the government at the time, including “no reward for failure” and “payments to departing executives to be minimised”.
By allowing Sir Fred to choose voluntary redundancy rather than dismissing him, he claimed, RBS had deviated from these principles.
“They consistently misdirected themselves in saying Sir Fred’s pension reflected his contractual entitlement,” he insisted.
Sir Fred Goodwin has repeatedly refused to give up his pension entitlement, despite widespread opposition from politicians of all parties.
And Lord Myners revealed Sir Fred had already taken a £3 million lump sum advance on his pension.
Shadow chancellor George Osborne said: “Gordon Brown appointed Lord Myners to look after the taxpayers’ interest and to keep an eye on the banks. He has completely failed to do that and it is the taxpayer who is paying the price.”
Sir Fred has indicated he would be prepared to return the lump sum in return for a larger pension pot.
Today Lord Myners said it was still not too late for him to make amends – by surrendering his pension, or even giving it to charity.