March 18, 2014 / 4:55 PM / 4 years ago

EU's Barnier says tweak to banker bonus rule not possible

LONDON, March 18 (Reuters) - The European Union’s financial services chief Michel Barnier urged the bloc’s lawmakers to endorse rules applying a cap on bankers’ bonuses, saying it was not possible to make last minute changes.

“I would like it if we could move fast now,” Michel Barnier told the European Parliament’s economic affairs committee.

“I don’t think it’s legally possible to expand or reduce the scope,” Barnier added.

The cap is one of the most high-profile rules from the 28-country bloc after public anger over high pay at banks, many of which were propped up by taxpayers in the 2007-09 financial crisis.

The rule limits a bonus to no more than the fixed salary, or twice that level if approved by the bank’s shareholders, and will affect 2014 awards to be handed out early next year.

Some members of the committee are angry with what they see as attempts by some banks to skirt the cap.

Britain’s HSBC has said it will give new “allowances” - expected to take the form of monthly or quarterly payments in cash or shares - to senior staff to boost their fixed pay, meaning that higher bonuses could then be awarded. UK peers Lloyds and Barclays have indicated they will follow suit.

The European Parliament has the power to veto the implementing measures written by the European Banking Authority which determine which bankers are affected by the cap.

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