Bonuses and salaries totalling nearly £4bn are to be handed out to employees of the state-owned Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) this year, it emerged last night.
The average worker in RBS's investment banking arm is on course to take home an average of £240,000, with the top 20 set to receive bonuses of between £1m-£5m.
The lavish awards for 2009 outstrip even those given in 2007 before the recession, and make a mockery of ministers' promises to clamp down on bankers' bonuses.
Last night, Gordon Brown, in his regular Downing Street broadcast, reiterated his call for banks to show restraint. He called for an end to "reckless banking practices" that contributed to global financial collapse last year.
The move means RBS is likely to clash with UK Financial Investments which oversees state-owned investments in banks. The taxpayer has a 70 per cent stake in RBS after the £20bn rescue of the bank, headed at the time by Sir Fred Goodwin.
Mr Brown said in his "fireside chat" podcast: "Banks must put lending to businesses and homeowners before making huge payouts to their staff." Mr Brown also promised homeowners better protection from lenders ahead of the publication tomorrow of a major report into mortgages by the Financial Services Authority.
The report is expected to recommend that borrowers will no longer be able to self-certify their incomes. Self-certification mortgages were originally intended for the self-employed, but led to "bad loans" at major banks.
All lenders will be required to verify incomes. The new regulations will be subject to consultation, but sources said Mr Brown expected lenders to implement them immediately.