Stuart Gulliver, the boss of HSBC, will see his pay slashed from a maximum £12.5m in the wake of the bank's £1.5bn US fines for acting as a conduit for drug money and sanctions-busting.
Amid mounting fury at the huge bonuses paid to bankers this year – despite fines for Libor fixing, billions of pounds spent on mis-selling compensation and lacklustre results – HSBC is thought to have recognised that anything close to the maximum payout would cause a storm.
So far, only Barclays' Antony Jenkins has given up his bonus. Stephen Hester at Royal Bank of Scotland took £780,000 in shares and Antonio Horta-Osorio received £1.5m, although that money won't be paid until the Government starts selling part of its stake in the bank. Both RBS and Lloyds reported pre-tax losses for 2012.
HSBC, by contrast, is expected to report a profit of around $19.7bn (£13bn), against $18.6bn in 2011. The number would be higher but for an expected rise in payouts for the mis-selling of payment protection insurance, and the US fine which inflicted huge damage on HSBC's reputation.
Mr Gulliver, who earned £8.5m last year, will pay the price for a fine that resulted in the bank being attacked for fostering a "polluted culture". Since then, the company has acted to reduce the independence of country heads, impose more central control and strengthen its compliance function. There were several allegations, including that HSBC had failed to note its Mexican affiliate should be considered as risky given the country's reputation for drug trafficking.
HSBC has sold 45 businesses to cut costs since Mr Gulliver took the top job in the wake of a bitter boardroom tussle that resulted in the departure of Michael Geoghegan.Reuse content