The Bank of Ireland CEO Richie Boucher has been in the news a lot recently. Back in the mid 2000s he was bessie mates with Sean Dunne and was one of the main lenders to the Baron of Ballsbridge for what have now turned out to be disastrous projects. These days, Richie is the highest paid CEO at a bank in which the State has shares – we own 15% of the ordinary shares of Bank of Ireland and in addition own €1.5bn of preference shares; in 2012 Richie was paid a salary of €690,000 plus pension contributions of €186,000 plus perks of €34,000; Richie handed back €67,000 of his salary as a waiver. The chairman of Bank of Ireland or “Governor” is Archie Kane, formerly of British bank HBOS which was recently slammed by a recent report by the British parliament and Archie was paid €209,000 for six months in the role as chairman and picked up €31,000 extra in “consultancy fees” and €22,000 in perks. Bank of Ireland made a comprehensive loss of €1.5bn in 2012.
Minister Noonan has been intensively challenged by the Opposition over bankers’ pay, he responded by commissioning a report last June which allowed him deflect questions for nearly nine months. When the Mercer report was finally published in March 2013, Minister Noonan said he was looking for 6-10% savings in remuneration costs at the banks in which the State has an interest.
On 24th April, 2013 Bank of Ireland is holding its annual general meeting or “Annual Court” and Minister Noonan has been harried by the Opposition, notably by Deputy Shane Ross but also by others, to confirm whether he will vote in support of the existing remuneration for top management.
This morning we finally got an answer.
In response to a written question from Labour’s Kevin Humphreys at the Oireachtas finance committee, Minister Noonan has this morning confirmed that he will abstain from using his 15% stake in Bank of Ireland to vote in favour or against the remuneration of Bank of Ireland’s board. Union members who have had, and possibly still have, the threat of 7% pay cuts hanging over their heads may be scratching those same heads at the Minister’s treatment of Bank of Ireland remuneration.