Anti-banker hysteria turns violent in Scotland
Mar 26th 2009 8:00AM
Updated Dec 4th 2009 11:31AM
Think taxpayers are angry at Wall Street? People in the U.K. may be angrier.
Vandals attacked the Edinburgh home of Sir Fred Goodwin, who built the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) into the fifth-largest bank by market capitalization, only to watch it evaporate as the government was forced to bail it out.
Goodwin (A.K.A. Fred the Shred for his enthusiasm in cutting jobs) aroused public anger over his $1 million pension. The company's businesses in the U.S. include Citizens Bank, one of the 10 largest commercial banks with operations in the Mid-Atlantic and New England.
Members of Parliament have called for Goodwin to be stripped of his pension. Others have called for his knighthood to be revoked.
"Three windows at the front of his £2m detached sandstone villa were smashed and the rear window of a black Mercedes S600, parked in the driveway, was destroyed," according to the Guardian newspaper. No one was hurt.
According to the newspaper, e-mails sent from the address firstname.lastname@example.org said: "We are angry that rich people, like him, are paying themselves a huge amount of money, and living in luxury, while ordinary people are made unemployed, destitute and homeless."
Protesters in the U.S. have already targeted executives at American International Group Inc. (AIG), and went on a "tour" of executives' homes to voice their displeasure over the bonuses. AIG Chief Executive Edward Liddy urged Congress not to disclose the names of the recipients of the payout because company employees have received death threats.
Indeed some of the anger against the AIG bonuses appears to be calming down in the U.S. Congress, though officials in some states continue to push for the release of the names of bonus recipients. Nonetheless, financial services firms may find themselves targeted again by protesters.
Tim Horner, managing director at corporate security consultants Kroll Inc., told Daily Finance that the same types of radical individuals who in the past focused on animal rights and the environment are now focusing on financial institutions. He was not aware of any incidents in the U.S. similar to the Goodwin attack.
Depending on the threat level faced by executives, some may need protection at their homes or may be forced to wear bullet-proof vests.
Even with tight corporate budgets, Kroll is not lacking for work to do, Horner said.