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That bloomin' pension again

Robert Peston | 13:32 UK time, Friday, 3 April 2009

The negotiations between Royal Bank of Scotland's new chairman, Sir Philip Hampton, and the bank's former chief executive, Sir Fred Goodwin, over Sir Fred's sensational pension deal have descended into near farce.

Sir Philip has been trying to persuade Sir Fred that it would be in his interest to voluntarily give up some of his £16.9m pension pot.

He's told Sir Fred on several occasions - the last time around a week ago - that it would be good for his reputation to make the sacrifice and good for the battered bank's.

On each occasion, Sir Fred has said he would ponder.

But the pondering has prompted nothing in the way of deeds - presumably because Sir Fred has made the reasonable calculation that whatever stain there may be on his reputation in the UK is unlikely to be washed away by any kind of self-denying gesture of this sort.

However, as I reported on 17 March, there was one exception to this immovability - which was in respect of a lump sum paid to Sir Fred.

I pointed out that Sir Fred had already received a £2.7m cash lump sum from his pension fund, thus reducing his annual pension payment (which he's already receiving, aged 50) from £703,000 to £555,000.

He was able to take this substantial sum tax free, under the terms of his pension arrangements with Royal Bank - the bank had agreed to pay the tax liability of considerably more than £1m on the payment.

Now, Sir Philip did persuade Sir Fred to repay the lump sum, but subject to an important condition - which is that Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs would have to agree not to levy tax on the initial payment.

This waiver from HMRC was necessary, for the obvious reason that neither Royal Bank or Sir Fred wanted to face a stonking tax bill on a lump sum he had given back.

Royal Bank was hopeful that HMRC would be happy to pretend that the original payment had never taken place.

It was wrong: HMRC has refused to play ball.

The tax authority has told RBS that even if Sir Fred gives the money back, it will still demand more than £1m in tax from him. Apparently, if it weren't to do this, an unfortunate precedent would be set.

So, after all that, it doesn't look as though Sir Fred will repay the tax-free lump sum.

He'll probably keep the £2.7m and will continue to receive £555,000 a year.

We're back to where we started on all this.

And for those of you bored witless by this saga (and I know there are lots of you who are in this category), I will endeavour to return to it only if something of genuine moment were to occur (and I honestly can't think what that would be).


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  • Comment number 1.

    Is it not possible to pay this pension with the "toxic assets", rather than money, which he brought into RBS? Then indeed he would be reaping what he sowed.

  • Comment number 2.

    Morally I disagree, legally a contract is a contract. If all had gone well, would there have been such a fuss - I don't think so.

    As for Fred and the bank's reputation - a bit late for that now. RBS was/is technically insolvent, isn't that a crime? It was when I was studying UK Company Law.

  • Comment number 3.

    This must be one of the first times that "fearless reporting" means fearless in the face of ones own blog followers!

  • Comment number 4.

    AAAAAAAAArrrrrrrrrggggghhhhhh. No more.

  • Comment number 5.

    This guy is his own worse enemy.

    If he didn't want to give a percentage back to the bank why didn't he divde it up amongst some charities as they are suffering in the recession as well.

  • Comment number 6.

    I'm amazed Sir Philip thought he could get HMRC to add another change in pension legislation when we've had 700 changes and thousands of pages since 1995. For those of us dealing with pensions day in and day out we knew this.

  • Comment number 7.

    THis is just HMRC being jobsworths.

    THis isnt setting any precedent in reality.
    He would have effectively going back to day one of his pension and not drawing a lump sum, therefore no tax to pay.
    If anything the bad precedent has already been set, namely that his company is paying what should have been a personal liability

  • Comment number 8.

    C'mon Sir Fred: spend some of that 2.7 million squid on some PR from Max Clifford's agency.

    The Public are so fickle that before you know it you will be a hero climbing Mount Kilomanjaro and raising cash for charidee.

  • Comment number 9.

    Fred who?

  • Comment number 10.

    Sir Fred goodwin failed to spot the danger for the bank and everyone wants to punish him. Gordon Brown failed to spot the danger for a whole economy, so when he is going to be made to pay back his earnings and forego his pension? Or is this another case where people have to be the scapegoats so politicians can get away with their incompetence. How many MP's are still sticking their snouts as deep in the trough as they can with claims for "expenses" for their parents houses and a nice payrise well above inflation while their constituents are made jobless and homeless. Time the anger was directed where it belongs - at the politicians and civikl service fatcats who ignored what was happening because they were too busy feathering their own nests!

  • Comment number 11.

    And what is 1 million in tax to any of these guys anyway?

    The whole lot of them are absolutely pathetic specimens - if only Damien could soak him in some formaldehyde, along with all his banking mates. that would be an alternative to flogging as discussed in the previous blog.

    If not banishment to a very low lying island with all his wealth. Some melting icebergs will demonstrate to them all the errors of their thinking soon enough

    Now can we have some news on how the G20 gabbing shop will sort out unemployment, if at all?

  • Comment number 12.

    Just when I thought the smoke screen was clearing.....'s that bloomin' Peston again.....

    .....with that bloomin' blog again.....

    .....about that bloomin' pension again!

    Robert, I really can't take these distractions from the real stories that are happening out there and to think you're going to string it out for the next 13 months.


    Government, and Myners in particular, cocked up. It's a bore but what's done is done. Unless Fred wants to offer to reduce his pension, perhaps round down from £703,000 to £700,000, then there is nothing we, you or dear old Harriet can do anything about it.

    By the way, how much is the government currently paying Cherie to see if the 'court of public opinion' will be satisfied with the possibility of a legal bar to Fred's retirement fund.

    And as for her lying low husband (no double entendre intended), I haven't heard about Tony in a long time; it must be that JP Morgan £5 million pounds annual non-executive salary keeping him busy. Now there's a story, Robert!

  • Comment number 13.

    So here's a question.
    I was made redundant from RBs last year and prmised a particular sum including profit share, which at the time of the severance was"gauranteed".
    How come Fred gets his full severance yet they are not paying mine?

  • Comment number 14.

    Seriously though, over the course of the last few weeks I have laid off over 50% of my staff, had my marriage of 9 years break down and just this last Monday, ratified a pay CUT of £31k for MYSELF - all either wholly or in part as a consequence of the climate of economic fear precipitated by Sir Fred (amongst many others). My house is on the line and my wife (the irony) is employed by RBS!!
    At some point we simply have to get on with turning things around and moving on with our lives - Sir Fred and his ilk will suffer in some way - even the simple matter of being ostracised will cut somebody with the gargantuan ego of Fred Goodwin to the quick, since personalities like his NEED to be adored!
    The sooner we begin to ignore the berks who have brought us to our knees and adopt a more positive, forward looking approach, the sooner we can clear up this mess!
    Summer's on it's way, the light at the end of the tunnel may just have been switched back on and we may have learned a few valuable lessons - I'm not going to fall out with my wife and if I lose my house but keep my company - hey, I can always rent! Life goes on and it aint that bad!!

  • Comment number 15.

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

  • Comment number 16.

    Actually as I have explained befoe it is rather more complicted. Surely if it was simple why did it take so long to agree on the night in question? And why was the HRM Director present? As RBS claim it was a compromise agreement under the Empoloyment Protection Acti 1993

    Such an agreement is a document that records an employee’s agreement not to pursue an employment related claim, such as unfair dismissal or breach of contract. This agreement is usually in exchange for a sum of money.

    Such agreements are confidential and no allegations may be made about the circumstances so I won't say what I think. Other than what was done would probably lead to a claim for 'breach of contract' which would be very costly and damaging to the organisation to defend though perhasp the occassion for mre commnets on here.

    Shareholders maybe able to sue (how much was the goodwill in the RBS account for the AMBO takeover).
    but directors play reposibility to the shareholder v responsibility to the company fast and loose.

    So lets let it be

  • Comment number 17.

    Rather than asking Sir Fred to leave (rather than sacking him) and so triggering the enhanced pension calculation, why didn't RBS ask himn to resign (i.e. leave of his own accord)? This wouldn't have triggered the enhanced calculation and if they needed him to stay on until a successor was in place then a consultancy fee could have been arranged (as HBOS did with Andy Hornby).

  • Comment number 18.

    So Fred's still alive ? I would have thought that starting with the Articles and Memorandum of Association, the various minuted meeting of the Remuneration Committee,the minuted meetings of the Executive Committee, the Compliance Committee meetings, that there would have been a slip up to keep Fred unhappy until he is 80. Did I hear or did I dream that Cherie Blair is on the case? I would put Fred's pension on hold until the muck has been turned over ! Anyhow since nobody thinks he should be getting it, then just don't pay. Let him sue us.

  • Comment number 19.

    Robert is wise to promise not to run any more Goodwin stories (whilst running a Goodwin story); we are fed up with hearing about him

    It's striking (pun intended) that:

    RBS have had billions of poonds of our money and can't be bothered to put decent shatter-proof windows in their City bank buildings, despite bomb- and bullet-proof windows being a City of London requirement (they should be fined for breaking City planning rules)

    Fred has millions of poonds of our money and can't be bothered to put decent shatter-proof windows in his Edinburgh gaff; his insurance company should have words with him

    What cheapskates; go on, buy some proper windows and stimulate the economy!!

  • Comment number 20.

    It's not so much that we're bored with this episode. It's just with momentous changes to the banks' accounting rules in America ('mark to market') and those same banks considering moves to completely bastardise the TARP facility, there are really more important things to report on other than a continuation of public lynching of Mr Goodwin.

  • Comment number 21.

    Ho hum, I've been volunteering for the Prince's Trust (of which Sir F is chairman) for quite a few years. Along with all the others, I don't get a penny for the petrol, time and telephone costs I spend trying to help young people. I am also a taxpayer, don't expect something for nothing, and don't expect recognition for what I do, just like lots of other volunteers. Sir F, don't you feel just a little bit embarrassed?
    Anyway, moving on, let's hope we get more on here about small businesses, like the one I work for, that daren't plan more than 2-3 months ahead. Or maybe the one a good friend ran sucessfully for 9 years, until he had to hand out redundancy to his 12 staff a couple of weeks ago. No fun seeing a grown man weep. Let's concerntrate on the real world, not Gordys' la-la land of meaningless promises.
    Thank you. Rant now over. As you were...

  • Comment number 22.

    Again, what has become of "We'll do whatever it takes"? What hypocrites!

  • Comment number 23.

    There is a problem with all this scenario. You cannot legally change a pension once it's been taken.

    He could of course say "I would like to reduce my pension but the law doesn't allow it" which would bang the ball back to the politicians court.

  • Comment number 24.

    Can someoone please explain something to me? I read elsewhere on the BBC's site this morning that "A government agency, as majority shareholder, will register the public's anger at the pension awarded." and "The bank [RBS] do not have accept the shareholders demands".
    It is my understanding that the majority shareholder, has sufficient voting power to dictate policy in any way it sees fit, within the bounds of the law of course.
    If the majority shareholder does NOT have such voting authority then who does? and how is it determined? I'd appreciate it if Peston could spend some time educating us all.
    If the UK taxpayer ("The Government") aquired all that debt under terms that give it zero influence over policy and strategy, then it I would be furious if I were a UK taxpayer, because it means that no provisons can be made to alter the practices that have led to this catastrophe, and that strikes me as idiocy, could the UK Government be impotent to that degree?
    I live in the US and run a small software firm there, beleive me the % of stock one owns is THE deciding factor in setting policy, selecting/removing executive officers and so on.
    Is it different in the UK?

    I did get some more info about this, apparently the Government do not hold a majority of voting shares, only non-voting shares. This begs the question: who DOES hold the majority of voting shares in RBS? Who is setting policy here? It is those who have the authority for setting strategy that are truly accountable, but who are they? does Peston know? does anyone know? I thought RBS was a PLC? Is this not a matter of public record?
    What is needed is for someone to headup a committe to aquire support from individuals and groups with a collective majority voting shares, then that committe can set strategy, fire the board and replace it with people that will not hand over 16 Million pounds to an individual whose greed and self interest led to the collapse.
    One more thing, if most people have seen their pension devalue with the fall in world share prices, why is Goodwin protected from this?
    Surely Goodwin has pursused (demonstrably) self interest over fiduciary responsibility?
    I hope they get Goodwin, he is a clever individual, he has played the system and won, but let us stop pretending that he acted as anyone else would, he is calculating and has allowed lives to be destroyed for his own gain, surely it can be proven that he was motivated by self-interest and thus failed to excerices good stewardship, he should be investigated, prosecuted and fined.


  • Comment number 25.

    RBS should sell off everything that isn't original RBS including the ABN Amro stuff, all the American stuff and of course everything that was NatWest.

    Then it could revert to being a regional bank working with the Scottish Govt and Scottish industry in order to grow the Scottish economy.

  • Comment number 26.

    A 'Good Win' for Mr Fred indeed. Goodwin by name, goodwin by nature....

    Take Fred's lmp sum and add on the tax RBS were going to pay - that totals £3.7m.

    Or employment for 148 people at £25k per year (excluding on costs).

    In a normal SME the owner is also the director/person running the business takes the risks and rewards and ultimately by taking those risks he gives the 'gift' of employment to his employees. When times are tough he may be forced to take that 'gift' away. This is not how it actually feels - you employ people to make money and when you can't make any money you have to save costs to survive but both descriptions are valid I think.

    However in the plc's the shareholders have risk and reward but the directors seem to have reward and more reward and if the shareholders remove the 'gift' of employment then they replace it with an even greater financial gift. Meanwhile further down the employment ladder hundreds of people lose their jobs to fund the pension payouts.

    If I were Mr Good Win I could not sleep at night out of guilt.

    As it is I suspect Mr Good Win can not sleep at night for worry that his life is in danger due to the constant Media harrassment and focus. Mr Good Win is one of very many overpaid and overrewarded bankers - if he is burnt at the stake he should not be alone on the fire.

  • Comment number 27.

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

  • Comment number 28.

    Sir Fred, eh?

    For me the real issue is - will his replacement, Sir Phillip, be any better? (Not in respect of his own pocket and gain, but for the people of the UK and for his Bank's shareholders (including taxpayers) and customers.

    I do hope so, as I've never really quite bought the thing that Sir F was a marvellous banker and it was only that horrid Dutch Bank thing that caused the problem.

    Maybe the problem isn't in the individuals, maybe it's in the whole banking 'way of life'.

    Or is that a bit like blaming the gun for a lack of morality, rather than the person who wields it?

  • Comment number 29.

    Will we be able to apply the same conditions to those working for the FSA and the current government incumbents?

    The pension is entirely the fault of Brown, Darling, and Myners. Please hold them accountable. This horse has well and truly bolted, and the stable, paddock, and county are empty (lawfully)

  • Comment number 30.

    #24 Governage:

    I cannot believe we put all that money in and have no voting shares.

    What is going on?

    The same old incompetents can give the taxpayer the finger.

    What do UKFI say about this?

  • Comment number 31.

    As a peripheral player in the finance industry, it was clear to me that RBS and Goodwin could have stopped their acquisition spree after Nat West and he and RBS would have been hailed as one the great success stories of the last decade. However the epithet now reads: "Never in the field of commercial history has so much been owed to so many by so few".

  • Comment number 32.

    I for one don't blame Sir Fred Goodwin one little bit. He has been shafted good and proper by the government - made to shoulder the blame for Golem Brown's "boom and bust".
    And it's not like Jacqui Smith is giving back any of the money she claimed for her "second home" allowance, is it? And is Golem Brown going to give up his pension. Not on your life.
    If I were Sir Fred, I'd up sticks and move abroad. There'll be a lot of better places to live than in the dystopian wasteland created by Golem Brown and his cronies.

  • Comment number 33.

    If anyone was daft enough to provide me with such a pension as Goodwin has they would have a helluva job getting that back too.
    Far to many other less than stellar folk in the country with such ridiculous pension agreements, to single one out is a nice diversion but ineffective.
    Now what about all the pensions that have been swiped from ordinary folk?, I have lost 2, quite a nice one dissapeared with T&N.
    Pension robbery is legal here in the UK, just have to live with it, retire either poor or as rich as Goodwin nothing much in between works.

  • Comment number 34.

    bring into law the crime of Economic Sabotage. Make it both a capital offence and retro-spective.

    There problem solved and the boil of public anger lanced

  • Comment number 35.

    "And for those of you bored witless by this saga (and I know there are lots of you who are in this category), I will endeavour to return to it only if something of genuine moment were to occur (and I honestly can't think what that would be)."

    Why should being bored or not being bored have anything to do with it? We're not surely dealing with entertainment here, are we? Those who don't wish to glean any further knowledge about Goodwin's pension have no need to read any further pieces about it.

    You write of "genuine moment", and I'd suggest that of genuine moment is how important to business reporting is the continued widespread reporting of a totally emotional feud between the masses and an individual - an event that has no relevance whatsoever to the functioning of business, adds nothing to the explanation of what has gone wrong in the financial world and contributes nothing towards determining the best way out of this problem.

    I'm not suggesting for one minute that the BBC shouldn't give coverage to matters that are of concern to large numbers of people, but I think we should be worried that this section of the population is not being challenged in its belief that concentration on the minutiae of one-off events is an entirely appropriate way for society to govern itself.

    Being venomous about Goodwin's pension may be a very good way for the powerless to vent their emotions, but as a contribution towards what's needed for society to progress it's absolutely meaningless. Let's not be confused that the two are the same, eh?

  • Comment number 36.

    I see that the BBC still can't come to terms with the £ sign. Let's see if the € symbol works...


  • Comment number 37.

    C'mon Robert move on. As referred to above by Fingerbob69, how about something on the US easing up on "mark to market", surely this is more important, or don't you have a source on this?

    Good of Citigroup to say the change will have no impact on their reported figures - what are the odds on better than expected quarterly figures coming from them then?

    Also well said Graham Ward at 14, positive thinking, that's good to see. Hope things work out well on your various fronts.

  • Comment number 38.

    -- "And for those of you bored witless by this saga (and I know there are lots of you who are in this category), I will endeavour to return to it only if something of genuine moment were to occur (and I honestly can't think what that would be)" --
    If only. Change the record: though Goodwin's pension award is grotesque, endlessly covering the subject and neglecting more important issues demonstrates a sorry lack of focus in this blog (either intentionally or unintentionally).

  • Comment number 39.

    If I was Sir Fred I would be looking to do a deal. In return for giving up some dosh, I would want carte blanche to blow the gaff on Gordon Brown's culpability and bury Brown's economic and political reputation (what's left of it) for good.

    On you go Sir Fred!

  • Comment number 40.


    I am plain confused. It seems that the government stake is actually ORDINARY shares, which DO carry a voting right (it also seems that RBS agreed to swap preference shares for ordinary sharesm, which gave the government their current holding).

    So, I ask again, why do the BBC report that the government cannot force "The Bank" to do their bidding when they a) are the majority shareholder and b) those share do (it seems) carry a voting right?

    Can someone (Peston?) please explain this?


  • Comment number 41.

    He knows where the bodies are buried and so WILL be receiving his full, albeit obscenely inflated, pension. It's just 'top-of-the-greasy-pole" folk scratching each other's backs.

    Are we surprised? Do not bears poo in the woods?

  • Comment number 42.

    Here we go again, the BBC are reporting this right now:
    "RBS, which does not have to make any changes as a result, said it was a "substantive" protest vote at Sir Fred Goodwin's £703,000 a year pension."
    This is the report that says 90% of shareholders have cast a vote about bank pay and pension policy.
    I really would like to know why "The Bank" are not under a legal obligation to follow the voting system that underpins share ownership.
    Is this just another example of the UK being a total, utter joke?


  • Comment number 43.

    Moving on from the Fred story to the post-coital G20 situation - apologies if that creates any unhappy images of Brown-Obama or Sarkozy-Merkel :(

    The NY Times seems less than impressed; they reckon that in the absence of a US recovery that will involve buying lots of imports, the rest of us have no choice but to launch more stimulation packages (where they can be afforded)

    Also see that Mr Roubini reckons we're still deep in the woods with the bears, and that the stock market has gotten way ahead of itself here

    hey but at least we've annoyed the Swiss and other tax havens

    it's Friday night so I'm off down the Jolly Roger to buy every member of my crew a pint of the best Old Dunlendin' and we'll be keel-hauling some landlubbers later on

  • Comment number 44.

    I have an idea.

    Let’s all of pretend that the whole G20 dance was the huge world saving success that our naked emperors have declared it to be. That the empty rhetoric that poured out of it was meat rather than the usual thin and tasteless watery soup.

    Let’s allow them their one last self-serving lie. After all, what’s one more fib floating on a polluted ocean of broken promises, spin, deceptions and falsehoods?

    Let’s pretend that this time it’s actually going to work (when really we all know it won’t).

    Let’s give them a few months, maybe as much as six, and then, when the whole rotten charade begins to fall apart on us like the cheap gimmick it is, let’s have the bloody revolution our society needs, let's really have it, in full, in glorious Technicolor, like the final horrible stomach pumping a comatose drunk would get to save their life. The final horrible purging that’s necessary before the long recovery can begin.

    It’s the only way that they ever learn. The only.

    No more lies.

    It’s just an idea.

  • Comment number 45.

    I missed the blog about the G20 summit so I'm going to be 'naughty' and slip one in here.

    One trillion sounds like an awful lot but it is 'only' (hahaha - i can't believe i'm writing this) one thousand billion!

    Now if we are still in the early days of this crisis and Mexico is already looking for a loan of 47 billion then there are 'only' 953 billion left OR another 19 Mexicos - all of a sudden it doesn't sound so much?

  • Comment number 46.

    As with most super rich people they are out of touch with the public's feeling towards them.
    So Sir Fred's reaction comes at no surprise.He may think about giving some money back but that's all he will do....
    Maybe he like's being the most disliked ex-banker in the UK if not the world....

  • Comment number 47.

    "for those of you bored witless by this saga ..."
    No, no, Robert - it's great sport: worthy of a fine comedian - Bernard Cribbins, no less !

  • Comment number 48.

    The whole nation wants Fred Goodwin to be punished for his destruction of RBS.
    We NEED Fred Goodwin to be punished.
    We YEARN for Fred Goodwin to be punished.
    SOMETHING has to be done about Fred Goodwin and his pension.
    It will provide some degree of balm for our financial wounds.
    That picture of this criminally incompetent man, smiling smugly on his mobile phone, haunts and aggravates us all.
    There has to be seen to be SOME justice in this world.

  • Comment number 49.

    43. At 5:40pm on 03 Apr 2009, somali_pirate_SP500 wrote:

    ..... at least we've annoyed the Swiss and other tax havens.

    Now there's an idea. War with Switzerland and Lichtenstein. We should be able to actually win that one. Good thinking, brain. Better still, Jersey!

  • Comment number 50.


    'And for those of you bored witless by this saga (and I know there are lots of you who are in this category), I will endeavour to return to it only if something of genuine moment were to occur (and I honestly can't think what that would be).'

    The government have significantly mis-handled the banking/Goodwin pension fiasco and it seems most unlikley that the government lawyers will find a solution and indeed the bank itself are keen to brush this one under the carpet as the remaining bankers wish to ringfence their own pensions.

    A series of genuine moments are I think quite likely to occur in as much as the opposition parties will not let this one go as they quite rightly smell blood and there appears to be immense political capital in attacking Goondog Trillionaiare Brown and his 'spin machine'.

    Unless fraud or criminal negligence are proven 2 or 3 years down the line at immense cost to the taxpayer in legal fees (as the outline case in contract) does not look strong against Goodwin - the only other option which I have mentioned previously - is for the Chancellor to go after Goodwin's pension in the next budget in the form of a penalty tax against e.g. bankers pensions etc - but you might have guessed it - would be difficult because of EEC law and Human Rights Act which this New Labour government introduced against discrimination etc.

    This would need a particularly bold and competent Chancellor wishing to really make a name for himself and to introduce a new tax effectively on corporate greed.

    This is a mess and for which New Labour/Brown government are entirely to blame and the nation is watching and waiting to see some justice dished out here either by way of legal proceedings, special session of Parliament and or a new and aggressive tax law grab that would have to be retrospective to be effective. Or better still the justice might be dished out at the General Election and whilst it may bore some now - it is something that I think most will remember when the time comes to put that little cross on the ballot paper.

    A fine old mess for Gordon Brown and not even Lord Sleaze himself looks able to pull a rabbit out of the hat on this one!

    I for one am not in any way bored at all with the story and to Fred Goodwin - Good luck Sir! The very best of British with your tax evasion - Oops sorry ... I meant tax avoidance! (Never mind I suppose he's sunning himself with a G & T in one of Goondog Brown's new tax havens that will escape the G20 measures - wheeling and dealing behind the scenes OECD - skeletons rattling again in the cupboard.)

    The other point about tax avoidance/evasion is that there may already be a bank on the space shuttle orbiting the earth or similar as would be outside of global tax control so no doubt Robert you'll soon be sent into orbit to investigate the new electronic currency for tax avoidance in outer space? Is that where all the money has gone? I bet Goondog didn't think of that did he at the G20 summit? All those Russians floating about upside down counting their lolly! No wonder the Chinese and Koreans are in a hurry to send more and more satellites into space!

    Again the problem with money is that no one really knows how much is in circulation in respect of all of the different global currencies - Someone please correct me if I'm wrong.

  • Comment number 51.

    Fred Goodwin is a an asset stripper and Lord Myner the truth knew all about it as did Gordon wait till he goes another one who will fill his boots like Blair for having no worth wile talent but conning and lying to all but his chosen few. He is now talking of a New World I wonder were Fred will be in this as he is not retirement age yet so he will have to be chief something or other were he gets a lot of money. The whole of the world has been fleeced well raped really and we all look on shell shocked as it happened so quick but as I said before is there a way out of this and make people forget, simple war. there is now a move in the media to romanize the hardship of the war with dig for victory program and we the fleeced ones have to enjoy putting out the lights and sitting with blankest around us and eating less and giving or blood and other bits to the Govenment to sell and bring our kids up to want to kill or be killed in other countries not here were the police have powers unheard off even in war, we have MPs who are changing us for everything from sex to sinks and we look on with open mouths asking why? well the answer is because they can. Fred Goodwin is small fry compared to others we will learn off and the so called Labour Party has lost it way and if we are forced to take on the Tories we will all be in prison unless we can pay.

  • Comment number 52.

    #45 grimupnorth did you see the Mexican finance minister on Newsnight? I think he must be EATING his way through their entire budget; the IMF should put him on a diet for his own good

    #49 Cassandra Britain seems to concentrate on fighting wars with mountainous land-locked countries at the moment so the Swiss and Lichtenstein fit the bill; the Swiss have a heavily armed citizen's army though, so might be a bit like the Taleban and victory uncertain

  • Comment number 53.

    #35 ExcellenceFirst "We're not surely dealing with entertainment here, are we?"

    Well, "Bread and Circuses" is a well established method of keeping the masses quiet. To contribute to the circus, I have attempted a poem in the style of the famous Scottish poet:
    William McGonagall, celebrated as possibly the worst poet ever in the English langauage.

    It was in the year of our Lord, two thousand and nine,
    which will be remembered by all of us for a very long time,
    that the Royal Bank of Scotland was declared to be a disaster.
    wrecked by auld Sir Fred Goodwin who had been its master.

    He was considered a disgrace to the entire Scottish nation,
    until now considered masters of wealth creation,
    but from the taxpayer RBS needed a mighty donation,
    as Fred was really only a master of master "self-delusion".

    So RBS was bailed out by PM Gordon Brown,
    thought by many to be rather a clown.
    Yet nobody laughed as it wasn't really funny,
    because his treasury didn't actually have any money.

    And Sir Fred himself was made to walk the plank,
    obviously unfit to manage a bank.
    But do not weep for poor sacked Sir Shred,
    for who needs a job, when you can have loads of money for nothing instead?

    My feeling is that this offering could be improved upon - or in the true McGonagall tradition, made worse. Help please?

  • Comment number 54.

    * 24, 40, 42 Governage: "So, I ask again, why do the BBC report that the government cannot force "The Bank" to do their bidding when they a) are the majority shareholder and b) those share do (it seems) carry a voting right?"

    Thank you for your questions and persistence. We are about to see yet another emperor with no clothes on if we get an answer!

    I'm not in the least bit bored by the repeated bulletins on Goodwin and the government. Here we have the essence of all that's wrong with the banks, and if we can nail this one, we can nail the rest.

    In fact, if the government cannot deal with Sir Fred, why should we believe that they can deal with anything?

  • Comment number 55.

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

  • Comment number 56.

    Most of us would think we were rich if we had a windfall of £10,000. When has it ever been acceptable for someone to have a pension far above what he needs? Why should Sir Fred have a yearly pension just for himself, which, divided up, could be distributed among 40 people and keep them in comfort for the year? I suggest he starts a company employing state pensioners and redistributes his pension in topping up theirs. Is he worth so much more than the rest of us? Or has the world of finance become so far removed from reality that this pension is considered realistic and acceptable by bankers and financiers? I thought a pension was supposed to keep you in comfort when you are to old or unfit to work. Sir Fred's pension must surely put him among the world's super rich. Perhaps he owes us all a regular account of his daily life and what he is doing with his money in the tabloids.

  • Comment number 57.

    Heard of the grapevine today that the rather ETHICAl Co-Op bank has increased the number of accounts by 70 per cent.

    I think that number should be quite a bit higher - so the only way to make it clear to the RBS board and the politicians is to shift your account and other business away from companies such as RBS.

    Somali sounds like a good way to slow the increase in unemployment with your 'keel-hauling some landlubbers' activities. Happy drinking matey...

  • Comment number 58.

    I think good fredwin is brilliant, he shows up what a pathetic corrupt system we are all actually living in. some old girl gets done 50 quid for being late with the council tax and these blokes are getting away with murder...brilliant.

  • Comment number 59.





  • Comment number 60.

    Give us a break, no more about Fred. When are we going to stop messing about and explore the judicial process. As I said before where was the FSA where was the Treasury etc etc. Where are the investigations. Wonder why no action? Why no investigation Robert? Is it because the regulators are ex bankers, will they be exposed. Is the club closing ranks and riding out the storm. As long as you go on about Fred they are not under any scrutiny.

  • Comment number 61.

    I'm also getting a bit fed up with FG. The annoying thing for me as a small business owner and large mortgage payer is that if I win the National Lottery tomorrow I'll still be several million behind this guy! The big thing that really must come out of this lesson learned is closer attention by the FSA to current and potential rewards to bankers in line with performance. All for remuneration aligned to risk but FG and others have emptied the 'trough' in my view.

  • Comment number 62.

    The obvious thing for Sir F to do then is give the lump sum to a charity and claim the tax relief thereon acordingly - win, win, win!

  • Comment number 63.

    I can't believe it, but I've finally been goaded to register by some of the stuff on here!
    Many of the "remedies" being suggested on this and previous articles lead me to believe that, if the contributors saw Fred Goodwin on a bus, they'd ram it! Shame about the other passengers, and yes both my legs are broken, but, hey, we got Fred!
    I mean, come on! Most of the actions suggested would end up causing more damage to you and me than Sir FG could have done, even given another ten years in the job.
    Retrospective law changes? Good idea! Let's implement the rumoured reduction in the national speed limit and then prosecute everyone who ever drove at 70. That'll soon refill the Government coffers.
    I see some want to tell the Government that they can impose extra taxes on pensions (retrospectively again). How well with that threshold keep up with inflation? As well as Inheritance Tax has I'd guess.
    Now we want a binding retrospective vote at RBS's AGM.
    Whatever the RBS director's did last year, provided it was within the terms of the M & A, they had the authority to do it at the time. They were given that when they were elected. Today's vote says "we don't like what you did", and holds the unspoken threat, " and you'd better not plan do anything like it again, or you're out!" And quite right too, but don't try to change the rules after the event, because if it can be done to "them", etc.. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't be inspired to exert myself too hard for an employer or bunch of shareholders who, at the end of the year, turn and say "Sorry, we don't like what you did, we want your wages back." (Actually, that's what bonuses were invented for, so now we have no carrot OR stick!)
    At #48 noninflatable claims to speak for the whole nation, Well "not in my name" as they say. I'm an RBS shareholder, I've seen my (modest) holding lose over 95% of its value, and am distinctly unhappy with FG and the rest of the board. But, before we even think about punishment, I've not yet heard a convincing case that FG, or anyone else, has been guilty of anything other than execrable judgement (until all those retrospective law changes of course), so accusations of criminality are certainly premature and probably slanderous. We supposedly have a presumption of innocence (or do we want that to go as well for the sake of a few days smug satisfaction?) until conviction and he hasn't been charged with anything.
    I sincerely doubt that he could have been legally fired, as he would certainly claim that he had the backing of the Board for his actions, and therefore a strong case for an action for unfair dismissal.
    From information in the public domain, his pension, and the enhancement, are strictly in line with RBS pension fund rules. So, as for the suggestions that it should be withheld and challenge him to sue! Great, give RBS a precedent to tear up agreements, wait a while then, when he's won, pay him the pension, with interest plus all the legal costs including his!
    Right, so we have retrospective law changes, retrospective tax changes, pay can be clawed back by miffed shareholders, retrospective changes to agreed pensions are OK, and the presumption of innocence can go out of the window. Fred's pension or punishment will have very little material effect on anyone but him, but that lot are REALLY worth worrying about.
    Face up to it, Fred is going to get his pension, in full, unless he chooses otherwise. He isn't going to face charges and neither is anyone else on the RBS board. (OK, maybe some minor unrelated misdemeanour will be turned up by chance. I'll give you that!).
    That's how it's going to be, live with it and move on.
    Finally, there's not a snowball's chance of success for the crackpot attempt at litigation over the Rights issue. They might have proved to be incompetent bankers, but you can bet the store that they had good lawyers putting together that enterprise and a watertight case should the figures be challenged.
    As I said earlier, I'm an RBS shareholder and say to the RBS Shareholders Action Group, "it's our fault"! We elected the directors(if only by apathy)they appointed FG and Johnny Cameron and we sat back happily as the share price rose tenfold in ten years and the dividends rolled in. So it's only fair that we should have stumped up when things went sticky. It's our fault and it's time to accept our responsibility.
    The nation "yearns" and "needs" Fred Goodwin to be punished?
    For pity's sake!
    You have a very poor opinion of your compatriots.

  • Comment number 64.


    This topic is just so boring now, please move on. Didn't the G20 meet yesterday? Do you not have anything relevant or interesting to say about that? In reality, this pension matters only to Fred. Global recovery affects us all, yet you persist in blogging about it once again tediously today. I check you blog so much less now than I once did, due to your insistance that this severance deal some how matters. It does not. Move on, like the rest of us are doing and seeking our way through the new order.

  • Comment number 65.

    I am not a "new member". Sort it out, BBC.

  • Comment number 66.

    #53 sashaclarkson

    Beyond improvement.
    Brilliant composition.

  • Comment number 67.

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

  • Comment number 68.

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

  • Comment number 69.

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

  • Comment number 70.

    There must be dozens of less offesive images of Fred the Shred available for the BBC to post on this site.

    Please remove the self-gratifying image currently gracing the blog.

  • Comment number 71.

    53# Well done Sasha you are now the worst poet in the English language,you don't need any help the evidence is there for all to see.

  • Comment number 72.

    Did Fred have a contract of employment, if so, did he fulfill his duty under that contract of employment. Concidering the plight of RBS under his leadership I doubt he could argue that he had met the requirements of his contract.

    I am not an expert in these matters but it does appear rather strange that anyone can bring a company to its knees, and still walk away with a protected pension scheme. The fact that he has made decisions that have resulted in the downfall of RBS must be seen as a breach of contract. Although his pension may be a seperate issue they must be seen as conected, and possibly could be regarded as a motive for taking reckless action, as he was more protected than his employer in any wrong doing.

    I can not see any reason for a case in the courts not to be persued for claiming back his pension, or for that matter his over inflated wages. Minimum wage for this crook would be more appropriate.

    As with the court case regarding banks unfairly charging customers regarding fees, there must be a precident here, but as with the aforementioned case no one wants to admit wrong doing or law breaking.

    Lets get real Fred the shred took RBS for millions and is going to walk away with his ill gotten gains because no one has the balls to stop it. What a bunch off loosers.

  • Comment number 73.

    #69 jolo13

    I'm with you - but I think we should enlist the help of somali_pirate_SP500 and substitute the plank for the naughty step.

    His final message to J Woss would be worth the licence fee.

    Wun wabbitt, wun, wabbit, wun, wun,wun.

    Then you'd hear a distant voice saying " "Gosh it's wather wet down here"!

    Six million a year! - I wouldn't pay him in washers.

  • Comment number 74.

    Perhaps with all the Income Tax he will be paying the Chancellor could let us poor pensioners off Income Tax altogether.

  • Comment number 75.

    Oh dear me! Think I preferred the tea and croissant story!

    Robert, we get it, ok?

    Freddie stitched us all up-simple. Does anyone REALLY think he will give a penny back? Let alone be MADE to give of back? And as for HMRC turning a blind eye? Oh, come off it!
    There's no way Freddie will have left ANY kind of loop hole!

    Now then, do try and wean off bank stories. How about all the missing tax and NIC from football clubs?
    Or small businesses surviving/going under? What about all the new technology and R and D for the future of a country needing to secure a future for it's children?

    What about the true figures of the public purse? The massive 'success' of the G20?

    Plenty of food for thought there then?

    There's a thought for u!

  • Comment number 76.

    That blue ming pension eggain

    Sir humpty dumped sat on the wool

    Sir humpty dumped had a great fool

    But all Kings horses and all Kings men

    Couldn't take Sir Fried EGOS wreckovary away again

  • Comment number 77.

    Well, Gordon's worldwide campaign to collect other powerful leaders into a first meeting and agreement into concerted action has worked so far. The poor in our country and those of the other G20 members have been given a sign that their leaders are truly concerned!

    Whoops, I forgot the presence of those International Quango heads with no electorate that represents those poor directly. The G30 ish?

    All the other countries, the non G 134 [or so] are sure to be trusting of Gordon's plans to help their poor by more massive spending.

    Actually, I see no better peaceful resolution than this and, whilst not monitoring all markets, see some temporary return of confidence in the future. Careful, volumes are low!

    In political terms this is equivalent to a low voter turnout. The G20 leaders are all politicians from disparate political systems and of varying future lives of personal political power.

    It's a monumental gamble on scales that the bankers, who caused the mess, could not have envisaged. With regulation, they'll never be given that chance again otherwise Sir Badlose's pension will look like laughable peanuts compared to future financial recompense and to future world citizens still trying to live on a dollar per day.


  • Comment number 78.

    Banking ,where liesir Doolittle types learn how to say How now Brown cow AND GET MORE THAN A PAT ON THE HEAD.

  • Comment number 79.

    Seeing as all the other BBC blogs and have-your-say pages have closed the subjects of the G20, I thought I might post here just in case the BBC wanted to get any feedback on the issue.

    After all, a trillion dollars is a lot of money and worth a second look.

    I was just curious if the BBC has any plans to report the fact that the trillion dollars which Brown duped the world into thinking was new money, was in fact not new money at all, and was just a double-counting/obfuscation exercise and that the whole thing was basically just a giant scam by Brown?

    Duping the poorest countries of the world out of a trillion dollars is, in my humble opinion, a fairly important and newsworthy issue.

  • Comment number 80.

    #63 I1vw1th1t

    A very eloquent summary of the situation. Very honest, "It is all our fault", but could have been written by Sir Fred himself.

    The strength of your self denegration does you justice, but are you suggesting a change in the nature of capitalisation of business? In your own words this mess is caused by shareholders who do not ask questions, not all the time dividends are rolling in. So, does this suggest that external capitalisation of business is at fault. As you and your fellow shareholders have shown yourselves to be unable to make critical judgements of those you employ to increase your investments, maybe you have lost the right to hold those investments and they should be transfered to the depositors and borrowers of the bank. Run it as a mutual. The same could be done with all business. Transfer the ownership of business to those that work in it, and run them as co-operatives.

  • Comment number 81.

    whats browns favourite saying is it"I intend to end boom and bust" or is it "we need global solutions to solve global problems" or "the tory party is the do nothing party" and "we will do whatever is necessary to end the recession" the man is a muppet. brownwatch 422 days.

  • Comment number 82.

    Personally what I find most disturbing is not Fred so much as all those people who allowed this to happen: government men, shareholders, the press, the public. Was it OK to be greedy and amoral before the melt down and not after? Is it Fred to be shot or rather all those close people who colluded? How close had you to be to Fred to be guilty?

  • Comment number 83.

    Let's face it. When put into the context of the tax payers total liability for the public sector pension pot. Sir Fred's 20 odd million pales into insignificance.

  • Comment number 84.

    Fred's Pension is indeed a bloomin' plant. Its strong and healthy roots are deeply embedded in the fertile loam of popular discontent. Who can tell what future mayhem its flowers may cause? Perhaps 'boredom' alone will
    not be the death of this Triffid.

  • Comment number 85.

    RBS pension fund was underfunded i.e. it cannot afford to pay Fred Goodwin's pension or the pensions of the other high paid bankers at RBS. The reason it is underfunded is that it invested too much in RBS stock. Duhhhh! I thought these guys were supposed to be smart and might have thought about correlated risks.

    But because RBS is not insolvent and the UK bail-out is through stock purchase RBS can divert £800M of bailout money to their pension fund. Probably even have a legal obligation to do so. It is totally sick. We are completely insane to let guys that caused a £24Bn loss walk away with far more money than normal prudent businessmen in the real economy could ever make.

  • Comment number 86.

    When I become prime minister (unlikely I know, because it is not a position I am seeking) one of the first things I would do would be to make it illegal for anyone in a salaried fulltime job to be paid more than 95% of the PM's salary. Part time jobs (directorships etc) would be set pro-rata.

    As #72 says: " does appear rather strange that anyone can bring a company to its knees, and still walk away with a protected pension scheme." Taking this a stage further, I would say it is rather strange that anyone can bring a COUNTRY to its knees...

    Nobody can claim that any other individual managing director or chief executive has more potential for doing catastrophic damage than the PM, so this approach would be fully justified.

    This would have two effects:

    1) It would prevent the ridiculous salaries that people at the top of both the private and public sectors currently get - nobody is worth that much and it is absolutely clear from the current situation that paying a lot has not ensured that the people in those posts are competant.

    2) It would hopefully attract a wider choice of people to the position of prime minister, so if there are competant people out there, one of them might get it.

  • Comment number 87.

    Lets MOVE ON!
    HE did a deal that’s it deal done.
    WHY on earth would he give a penny back?
    Good riddance to bad rubbish.

    Dock the pensions of those who allowed him to have the pension.

    Maybe that would make others think twice about decisions made in these cases in future.

    THE HORSE has well and truly BOLTED

  • Comment number 88.

    Abandon it Robert.Leave this one to the Public Inquiry that will drag through all of this government incompetence. Please focus on what now matters to recovery. Where are the Lending Panel / Government figures on credit supply shortfalls. The Council of Mortgage lenders are making the same point :

    Michael Coogan, director general of the CML, says: "January and February are usually the quietest months in the mortgage market. The current withdrawal of many specialist, small and foreign lenders from new lending has created a huge gap in the capacity to fund mortgages to match consumer demand and this is continuing in 2009.

    "People want to know why lenders are not lending. They are, but government schemes to restore the flow of funds are primarily focused on a few large banks and recent lending commitments by a few lenders cannot fill the gap overnight although we hope to see more funds flowing into mortgage activity later in the year.

    Turn your attention here, please..........

  • Comment number 89.

    This article was from just over a year go. I wonder if Fred knew what a shocking deal it was then?

  • Comment number 90.

    Sir Shred's pension is immaterial, so is the outpourings of the G20. Why don't we just write off the mortgage debts of those affected - quicker and simpler and restart a much simpler economic model. As it stands we are going to reshuffle the toxic debts - the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. As for me - I go under in about two months. What a future for the kids....

  • Comment number 91.

    OK, so he can keep the pension. Instead of cash, can he be paid with those £2.50 shares he sold to millions of duped investors. At least then, he can suffer the huge financial losses, the same as all of us.

  • Comment number 92.

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

  • Comment number 93.

    If Greedy Fred insists on his pension, there appears to be no particular rule as to how or where he should be paid.
    I think we should make it available for him to collect PERSONALLY, EVERY WEEK, from a bank branch of his choice in Lerwick, and since £1 coins are legal tender, his approximately £10,000 a week should be handed over to him in bags.
    I reckon this would weigh about a hundredweight.
    Me, vindictive and spiteful?
    Of course.

  • Comment number 94.

    Let's move on from the pension fiasco. Let's move on from the banging drums of GB and HH when they said "No rewards for failure" and "The pension settlement is not acceptable therefore is not accepted". Let's move on from the government's docile acceptance of bankers still receiving their bonuses. Let's move on from the inaccurate "No more boom and bust". Let's move on from the 10p tax fiasco. Let's move on from the absurd and shady MPs expenses claims. Let's move on from who was responsible for not spotting the house price bubble. Let's move on from the drum banging of the G20 meeting. And can we please move on from GB putting the word "global" in front of every problem.

    And if we move on from all that we see that 2p went on the price of a litre of fuel, very quietly.

    So can't we move on just a bit quicker, fast forward perhaps, to the next general election...

  • Comment number 95.

    89. andyhsufc

    Well researched! WHAT an interesting read!

    Even taking into consideration that we read it with the benefit of hindsight, it does rather suggest that there was some amount of waffle going on in some of the statement released to the press at the time.

    And if he didn't know, the real question was, why didn't he know?

    (As the Audit Commission and others like to ask various public servants as soon as they've replied, "I don't know" to a question .... "How can you manage what you don't know?")

  • Comment number 96.

    63. l1vw1th1t

    Very well put.

    Though I do empathise with public feeling that Sir F (and others), when all things are said and done, were hugely rewarded for a significant paucity of performance.

    Beyond that, yes, it's the old "people in glass houses" thing really.

  • Comment number 97.

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

  • Comment number 98.

    94 You are absolutely correct however the Government does not want to focus on what you think is important.
    Until such time as the voters in the UK realise and accept that the last 11 years of Zanulabour has been an unmitigated disaster we can never move on. You can't fix the problem until you accept what the problem is.

    Just accept that everything that Gordon Brown has done in the last 11 years has been wrong, we can then start sorting out the problem. The man and the party have been an unmitigated disaster for the UK.

    The IMF will be here soon with some clear lessons for the country. Listen to the interview on Channel 4 news with the former head of the IMF, Simon Johnson, he doesn't wrap it up.

    Start listening at 19 minutes for the truth about Gordon Brown's economic policy then the spin of Mandelson.

  • Comment number 99.

    The answer to this problem is very simple. RBS simply refuses to pay the pension and if Sir Fred really thinks he has a cast iron Contract then HE has to take legal action against RBS to force payment. If nothing else this will confirm a legal precedent. Very simple - don't pay !!

  • Comment number 100.

    The Sir Fred saga is a bit boring but you are quite right, Robert, not to let it drop lest it becomes forgotten. The fact that Sir Fred isn't inclined to pay back ALL of his ill-gotten gains, despite public opinion, is a measure of the man's character and I wouldn't like to see him retaining his huge income AND being allowed to fade into obscurity. So keep up the good work Robert.


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