Shocked staff carry on the goodwill

Shocked staff at Barings were displaying a mixture of gloom and grit yesterday as they reported for work to find press cameras camped outside their offices in the City.

Most of the bank's 1,600 London workers had reported for duty on Sunday, and yesterday they were saying little as they dashed to grab sandwiches in the lunchtime rain.

As if the bank's crisis and threat to jobs were not enough, it is believed that Barings was promising hefty bonuses this year after a successful 1994 - the bank will now struggle to pay them. The bonus statements had been expected yesterday. Staff in Baring's Bangkok office had also been expecting to receive their bonuses yesterday but they failed to arrive.

Administrators Ernst & Young say the bonuses will have to be looked at as part of the overall review.

One employee was unable to hide his anger that one man, the Singapore- based trader Nick Leeson, had wrought so much havoc. "I hope ... he is flogged slowly over a period of weeks until he expires."

Elsewhere staff were more concerned with their own future. One said: "I only joined the bank as a graduate trainee in September. I'm a little shocked but there's not much more I can say."

Others were more upbeat. "Morale is pretty high. We know we've got a good business here but we are a bit surprised that something like this could happen."

The bank's administrator Ernst & Young was trying to placate staff yesterday saying that goodwill generated by Barings' highly regarded workforce was one of the bank's most valuable assets. E&Y's Alan Booth said the administrators would be able to maintain salaries at the current time.

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