Irish

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Government rubber-stamps 'disgraceful' €843,000 salary for Bank of Ireland chief Richie Boucher

John Mulligan

Published 26/04/2014 | 02:30

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US billionaire Wilbur Ross at the Bank of Ireland AGM. Picture: Mark Condren
Richie Boucher, Bank of Ireland CEO during the AGM in the O'Reilly Hall at UCD, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Richie Boucher, Bank of Ireland CEO during the AGM in the O'Reilly Hall at UCD, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins
The attendance at the Bank of Ireland AGM in the O'Reilly Hall at UCD, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins
The attendance at the Bank of Ireland AGM in the O'Reilly Hall at UCD, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

THE Government has backed the controversial €843,000 pay packet awarded to Bank of Ireland boss Richie Boucher last year, as some shareholders branded it as "disgraceful".

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At the bank's annual general meeting in Dublin yesterday, shareholder William Malone slammed the bank chief's remuneration for 2013.

"It's a disgraceful amount of money to pay a man who two years ago lost €2bn," he told the AGM, or annual court, as Bank of Ireland refers to it.

But the Government used the taxpayers' 14pc stake in the bank to lend its support to Mr Boucher's pay award.

Almost all the bank's shares that were voted yesterday – 99.36pc – were cast in favour of his and other board members' pay packets.

REWARDED

The vote on directors' pay was to approve the 2013 packages for directors. This is the norm for large companies who make a final decision on pay once the financial results for the year have been calculated.

Among those in attendance was US billionaire Wilbur Ross, who has tripled his money after investing about €300m in the bank in 2011. He recently cut his stake by a third.

Bank director Patrick Haren defended the amount of money paid to the chief executive last year, pointing out that it was unchanged on the 2012 figure. He urged shareholders to "reflect" on the performance of the bank and insisted Mr Boucher's pay was "well justified" based on his track record.

Chairman Archie Kane also defended Mr Boucher's salary, which isn't subject to the €500,000 government pay cap as he was with the bank before it was introduced.

"The achievements over the last couple of years speak for themselves," said Mr Kane.

"Bank of Ireland has met virtually all its restructuring plans. It has also rewarded the taxpayer for its rescue. We're very grateful for that rescue.

"Richie and the team have nothing but been focused on making sure that the taxpayers were handed their money back with a cash profit."

He also said that the bank would " fully cooperate with any banking inquiry" and said he had no insight as to when the Government might sell the State's stake in the bank.

One shareholder, Dermot Carroll, who owns the Secret Book and Record Store in Dublin, rounded on Mr Boucher's performance at a Oireachtas finance committee hearing earlier this month.

He claimed the bank boss had treated the politicians who are on the committee like a "bunch of dunderheads in a secondary school".

"I don't want my public representatives treated that way," he told Mr Boucher. "A bit of humility would not go amiss on your part."

Mr Carroll also argued that making a profit shouldn't be the only motive the bank has and claimed the institution has been the most "cruel and relentless" institution pursuing people with arrears.

"I would like you to stop treating those people who are in mortgage arrears as if it was entirely their fault and they were just a low class of criminal," he said.

Some shareholders rose to the defence of Mr Boucher as others pointed out he'd been paid more than either Barack Obama, Angela Merkel or Enda Kenny. "I would much prefer to have Mr Richie Boucher running this bank than to have Barack Obama, Enda Kenny or Dr Merkel," said one woman to applause.

Bank of Ireland said its trading this year has been in line with expectations, it's profitable and that the economic situation has continued to improve.

Irish Independent

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