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A big bonus for failure

Douglas Fraser | 17:29 UK time, Thursday, 5 March 2009

Andrea Orcel gets a lot of bang for a lot of bucks, but it's not always the right kind of bang.

According to reports out of New York this morning, this Merrill Lynch top investment banker was a big shot adviser to the Royal Bank of Scotland when it led a consortium that bought ABN Amro.

Those of us watching the RBS disaster are now familiar with the disastrous miscalculation and failure of due diligence behind that deal, and the price we're now all paying.

Of course this big bang didn't go off in Mr Orcel's face.

It was Sir Fred Goodwin who paid for the mistake with his job and his reputation - widely perceived as being a very low price given the implications for the rest of us.

But it is reported by the Wall Street Journal and Huffington Post today that Andrea Orcel, a London-based Italian, walked away from that deal with a US $12m fee, simply for his advice.

It must have been quality stuff.

That was part of a $36m pay and bonus package for 2007.

He may be feeling the heat now, though.

New York's attorney general, Andrew Cuomo, is reported as using legal means to get at secret information on the billions in bonuses paid to Merrill Lynch executives at the end of last year, during the same period the company was facing a $15bn loss and needing rescued by Bank of America and the US taxpayer.

It seems Mr Orcel, the top Merrill earner, pocketed $34m last year, despite the mergers and acquisitions market starting to tank.

And he's still doing nicely as Bank of America's head of international investments.

He makes Sir Fred's £703,000 pension look like a bargain.


  • Comment number 1.

    Like most advisers he will simply have told RBS what they wanted to hear.

  • Comment number 2.

    Please Mr Obama suspend the closing down of Guantanamo Bay, there is a far better use of this facility than its previous encumbents. What's more we have the proof that these financial capatains of industry are guilty above and beyond!

  • Comment number 3.

    No amount of propaganda on behalf of Sir Fred Goodwin will convince me or anyone else that his "pension" is in any way justified, moral, or deserved - not even a clumsy attempt to excuse it by way of a dubious comparison with some other financial "big shot".

  • Comment number 4.

    I think redrobb has had a cracking good idea - a much better use for guantanamo!

  • Comment number 5.

    Fred Goodwin is being used as a scapegoat to deflect public outrage away from the politicians who have been in charge of UK financial regualtion and economic policy for the past ten years, and who are now trying to portray themselves as saving the world...there has to be someone to blame, and it can't be them, so bring on a pantomime villain. Boo, hiss, behind you...

  • Comment number 6.

    Am I missing something here. The CEO of Lehman Brothers and Goldman Sachs were deadly rivals. One goes into government and shafts the other one because his bank is not likely to cause systemic failure in the financial system. Systemic failure then ensues....and Paulson is still in the driving seat. Truly the lunatics have taken over the asylum. I don't give a monkeys which corporate suit trousered squillions and whether or not they get to keep it. I'm more concerned about the current lack of reality check on how anyone can possibly take the cleaning up progress seriously while Paulson is still in office.

  • Comment number 7.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 8.

    Related to the above

    Are there any solicitors, police officers or journalists reading this blog who know how to report Economic Sabotage to the police.In 2006, 27th October, I had evidence and knew of a situation to deliberately depress the UK economy by £50 billion per year. Around 4.5% of GDP.

    Knowing this alone would crash the UK economy I reported it to a Scottish police force.

    I expected to be interviewed by Fraud, Special Branch or serious organised crime or terrorist related units. As I live in a rural area they sent the local beat bobby.

    As the offences were committed in England I reported it as Economic Sabotage believing this to carry cross border jurisdiction.

    The officer decided the offences were criminal. I got a letter 6 weeks later from a Superintendent saying this in writing. They couldn't’t investigate as they were outside the jurisdiction of Scottish police.

    Nevertheless Scottish police knew more than 2 years ago the Scottish and UK economy would collapse, when it would and the magnitude to within 12.5%. Had they been able to respond there was a good chance some of the present damage could have been avoided.

    As there was no criminal investigation, the problem is the media, politicians, economists and bankers are getting symptoms and consequences confused with causes. Hence whatever they do will not resolve the problem, as they do not have the full facts.

    Though I contributed to 2 Nobel Prizes in 2007, these were climate change related, so I am still a relative outsider with economics, law and the media.

    In December 2007 I was asked to review the Scottish Government’s economic development strategy for an economics glossy. Knowing the Scottish, UK and global economies would crash I wrote an assessment. The Lion Rampant

    Which was published on 18th January 2008 in Newstart (Vol 10 No 417). In the final paragraphs I put my warning. Global markets collapsed 3 days (Monday 21st) after it was published, as predicted (and known).

    If there are any journalists, police officers or solicitors who can assist it would be appreciated. I have tried nearly every law firm in Perth and Dundee and it just seems out of their scope. I am not even sure the police fully grasp the situation. I still think Economic Sabotage is a cross border issue that could be investigated by Scottish police.


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