Germany’s biggest lender awarded a €80 million bonus to investment banker Christian Bittar in 2009 for his work the previous year – the year the credit crunch hit banks worldwide and plunged global economies into lasting turmoil, wrote Stern magazine in a report due to be published on Thursday.
Not only is the extraordinary amount is unusual – €66 million more than the €14 million former bank head Josef Ackermann earned in his best year, including bonus – but also the timing.
The bank awarded the record sum in a year when its own management elected to forgo their own bonuses after chalking up losses of €2 billion in the crisis.
In the end the employee walked away with just €40 million, as he was fired before the bank had paid out the full amount, industry insiders told the magazine. It emerged Bittar had been involved in fixing Libor interest rates during and before the crisis and he was fired in 2011 during an internal investigation.
“After the bank established that a limited number of employees had acted inappropriately, it suspended or fired those employees,” a spokesman told the magazine.
All unpaid allocated bonuses had been retained and withheld until the end of investigations, said the bank, which has fired a total of seven bankers accused of having been involved in fixing Libor or Euribor interest rates in the past decade.
Last week state-owned British bank RBS was fined €454 million for the illegal practice, while Swiss bank UBS was charged €1.2 billion in December.
Bittar’s bonus, said the bank, had been calculated as a fixed percentage the €500 million of capital gains made by a banker, but are no longer worked out on these terms.
The news comes just weeks after reports that the bank, currently under investigation by the German Financial Supervisory Authority for rate fixing, would cap immediate bonus payouts this year at €300,000, up from a €200,000 last year.