HSBC Pays Unwarranted Bonuses

HSBC has paid bonuses worth almost £30m to its staff, despite failing to meet the targets that should trigger the payments.

The bonus scheme is linked to the performance of the group’s shares. Britain’s biggest bank has been one of the poorest performing bank stocks in the world over the past 12 months, because of concerns about its exposure to high-risk lending in the US – which forced it to issue the first profit warning in the group’s history.

While the bank confirmed last week that its senior executives would miss out on share bonuses worth about £7m because of the conditions in the scheme, the performance criteria have been “waived” for employees below board level. Around 12,000 HSBC staff around the world have picked up the bonuses.

The move is likely to inflame HSBC’s frustrated shareholder base, which has been disillusioned by the bank’s handling of the sub-prime mortgage crisis in the US. Some investors fear there could still be more bad news to come from the bank’s American operations.