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Bankers told keep low profile as public anger rises
March 27, 2009 / 7:10 PM / 8 years ago

Bankers told keep low profile as public anger rises

<p>Workers replace a broken window pane in the vandalized home of former Royal Bank of Scotland chief Fred Goodwin in Edinburgh, March 25, 2009.Russell Cheyne</p>

LONDON (Reuters) - Leave the flash car at home, spend the night in a hotel, hire a bodyguard. This is the kind of advice security experts are giving bank executives who fear attacks from people angered by the financial crisis.

In London, where leaders of the world's largest economies will gather for a G20 summit next Thursday, the discontent may spill out into protests starting with a rally on Saturday that police expect will draw 40,000 demonstrators.

In France there have been cases of workers holding bosses hostage over layoffs and shut downs, while in Scotland a prominent banker's home was attacked. With these incidents in mind, police and security providers are getting ready for busy times.

One company, Control Risks, has seen its workload in Europe rise by 20 to 25 percent since November, director Sebastian Willis Fleming said, including more work with financial institutions.

Control Risks, like its competitor Kroll, helps companies plan security measures, including when they have to announce unpopular decisions, such as mass layoffs or office closures.

"Usually companies come to us in crisis," said Eden Mendel at Kroll. "The type of work that we are getting is much more geared as a response to the financial crisis."

Beyond advice, Kroll can provide bodyguards with background in specialist police forces.

"It will be interesting to see if, following the G20 and following the Fred Goodwin attack, we start seeing more and more financial services calling us," she added.

On Wednesday vandals smashed windows and damaged a car at the Edinburgh home of the 50-year-old former chief executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland who refused to give up an estimated annual pension of about 700,000 pounds ($1 million) after the government rescued his bank.

Bankers in the United States also have reasons to take extra care after death threats were sent to some executives of American International Group, which paid out $220 million in bonuses despite being kept afloat by taxpayers' money.

British police say they are likely to deploy about 2,500 officers on London's streets during the G20 summit in reaction to intelligence suggesting the City of London financial district is one of the areas targeted by protesters.

Businesses have been advised to cancel non-essential meetings, stagger staff arrivals and departures and to warn staff "not to antagonize protestors."

The Times newspaper also reported police were suggesting bank employees not wear suits or carry bags with company logos. Both the City of London police and London's Metropolitan Police declined to comment.

Additional reporting by Peter Griffiths; Editing by Matthew Jones

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