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Renewed criticism over Swedish bank bonuses

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07:46 CET+01:00
Bonus payments increased at Sweden's four largest banks last year, despite a sharp drop in the banks' results, according to an ongoing review by the Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority (Finansinspektionen – FI).

Financial markets minister Mats Odell was highly critical of the banks' actions.

“Right in the middle of this financial crisis, bonuses have increased, not only as a percentage of income but also in the actual amount. It's startling and worrisome," Odell told Sveriges Television (SVT).

As of January 1st, new, tougher rules regarding bank bonuses went into force. The rules stipulate that bonuses are to be based on earnings over a long period of time and paid out over a long period of time, rather than on short-term results.

In addition, a substantial drop in a bank's profits can result in bonus payments being reduced or drawn in altogether.

FI plans to continue its ongoing review of the banks for the rest of year. After the summer, the agency will receive information from the banks about what they've done to abide by the new rules.

Odell lamented the fact that “Swedish banks have so far not lived up to the new requirements”.

“It's now time for the banks to wake up and implement this. It shows that it's important that we get these new rules in place,” he said.

But Swedbank spokesperson Thomas Backteman called Odell's criticism misguided, explaining that bonuses paid in 2009 were based on 2008 results.

“And I think that most Swedish banks had record profits in 2008,” he told SVT.

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