Goldman Sachs sparks outrage by paying staff highest UK bonuses

The bank shared £367million between 121 members of staff

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The Independent Online

Goldman Sachs has paid the highest bonuses to senior staff among banks operating in the UK, sparking outrage and leading to calls the firm must return to “planet earth”.

Overall, the US investment bank paid 121 London bosses and traders a staggering £367million for 2013.

The US investment bank paid its code staff - employees in senior or risk-taking positions - £2.57 million each in bonuses, according to research by Reuters. This figure is almost double that handed out by other banks, and nine times the average annual UK salary of £26,500.

The remuneration figures mean that Goldman was by far the highest paying of 13 leading banks across the UK, US Switzerland and Japan in 2013.

The bank has also been accused of attempting to hide the figure amid celebrations, as it released details of bonuses the day before the New Year's Eve deadline, where rival firms acted months ago.

To make their findings, Reuters compared the wages paid by 13 leading investment banks based or working in London.

Data from the banks also revealed that 2,600 employees were paid over £3.4bn in 2013 or an average of 1.3 million pounds each - almost 50 times average annual pay in Britain.

RBS, which was bailed out by the Government in 2008, paid code staff an average of £600,000, and star performers at Barclays averaged £1.6million.

The research is the most comprehensive released on bankers’ pay in Britain, which is a sensitive subject after large bonuses were blamed for encouraging risk-taking and contributing to the financial crisis. Many shareholders have also voiced criticism, saying that pay needs to come down to improve profitability.

The figures related to earnings in 2013 before an EU-wide cap on bonuses came into force, which restricts payouts to 100% of a bankers’ salary, or 200% if shareholders grant their approval.

The UK Treasury appealed against that cap in the European Court of Justice but has since dropped the matter, BBC News reported.

Banks have also responded by introducing six- and seven-figure fixed allowances to bolster the basic pay packages of senior staff.

The TUC responded to the details by accusing Goldman Sachs of operating in a different stratosphere.

The TUC's General Secretary, Frances O'Grady, told the Daily Mail: “It is time that their pay came out of the stratosphere and back to planet earth.”

She went on to call for employees to be given a voice on firms' remuneration committees in 2015.

Deborah Hargreaves of the High Pay Centre accused the bank of announcing its bonuses befire New Year’s Eve in the hope that it would not receive widespread coverage, and the banking industry overall of “breath-taking arrogance.”

The Independent was unable to contact Goldman Sachs for a comment. The firm declined to comment to the Daily Mail.