Northern Rock's secret bonuses

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Senior manages at Northern Rock have been paid secret bonuses, doubling their salaries at a time when the stricken bank is being propped up with the help of billions of taxpayers' money, it emerged last night.

The bank has sanctioned millions of pounds in confidential "retention bonuses" to managers and management board directors deemed "essential to [its] continuing excellent operational performance", according to a report in The Mail on Sunday.

New chief executive Andy Kuipers has confirmed that the staff will receive a quarter of their salary every three months, effectively doubling their annual pay if they get the pay-outs for a year. Some 173 staff out of a workforce of more than 6,000 have been paid the bonuses.

Shareholders and customers condemned the outlay of more than £2m a month on bonuses to a select band of employees.

The Treasury has signed up Ron Sandler to head the Rock in the event of the bank's nationalisation, it was confirmed yesterday.

Mr Sandler, former head of Lloyds Insurance Market, will go in as the Rock's executive chairman charged with bringing stability to the bank if a private-sector buyer is not found.