LONDON | Sat Oct 2, 2010 5:27am BST
LONDON Oct 2 (Reuters) - Goldman Sachs (GS.N) has given its top London-based employees millions of pounds worth of free shares after a decision to cap their pay, Britain's Sky television reported on Saturday.
Sky financial editor Mark Kleinman, quoting unidentified people close to the investment bank, said the awards were made in August after they were discussed with Britain's regulatory Financial Services Authority.
No immediate comment was available from Goldman Sachs on the Sky report.
Sky said Goldman's employees in London had their salary and bonuses for 2009 capped at 1 million pounds ($1.58 million), meaning they would earn less than counterparts in other offices around the world.
The capping, it said, was a reaction to then Labour government finance minister Alistair Darling's decision to impose a one-off tax of 50 percent on discretionary cash bonus awards of more than 25,000 pounds.
"My understanding is that Goldman felt compelled to hand out the free shares in order to retain key staff, with several London-based partners of the bank having left earlier this year after seeing their compensation capped at 1 million pounds," said Kleinman.
Sky said there were conditions, including a bar on partners who received the shares being unable to sell them for five years, even if they left the company.
Britain, now with a Conservative-led coalition in power, will implement a four-year levy on banks from 2011.
It was forced to bail out several lenders with billions of pounds of taxpayers' money while the public faces tough austerity measures to stabilise the country's finances
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