Column Eight: Younger takes a pasting

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The Independent Online
PRAGMATISM at work. A letter from the chairman of Royal Bank of Scotland comes on headed writing paper printed before George Younger was ennobled. In the good old 1980s, all the newly out-of- date stationery would surely have been binned. Instead, the bank - which yesterday revealed that 64 per cent had been lopped off its pre-tax profits - has printed thousands of 'The Rt Hon Lord Younger of Prestwick TD DL' sticky labels and is pasting them over the top. They're see-through, but they do the job. And at least they prove that the bank is taking cost control seriously . . .

A TWIST in the tale of Paul Mozer, the former Salomon Brothers government- bond trader charged with trying to rig US Treasury auctions. A further charge was one of insider trading - profiteering, it is alleged, from his own indictment.

It seems Mr Mozer became aware early on that regulators were investigating his suspicious bidding practices. Assuming - correctly - that the scandal would eventually leak to the public and damage Salomon's reputation, he allegedly called his broker and ordered him to dispose of the 46,000 Salomon shares that he owned. The share-price duly plummeted, wiping almost 30 per cent from its value, but sparing Mr Mozer any paper losses from the scandal.

As they say, once a trader, always a trader.

NOW HM has come round to paying income tax, pressure is mounting on Chris Patten to stump up on his tax- free annual salary (estimates range from pounds 150,000 to pounds 185,000 plus perks, depending on the value of the Hong Kong dollar).

Mr Patten says he did not negotiate the terms and conditions of the job and London would have to make any decision. Still, while the Queen will be rooted firmly in the top tax bracket, the maximum Mr Patten would have to pay is 15 per cent of his salary. A snip.

YOU WILL recall yesterday's tale of North West Water: Dennis Grove, the chairman, was a notable absentee from this week's three-day course for the company's senior executives on handling the media - even though he recently stormed from the Panorama studio after getting cheesed off with questions about his pounds 200,000 annual salary.

It emerges that Mr Grove would have had something of an ally at the conference. One honorary dinner guest was Phil Redmond, chairman of Mersey Television, who is said to earn a ginormous pounds 404,766.