Nationwide: The million pound pay off...

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What’s the difference between a Financial Services Authority fine for data breaches and the “golden goodbye” for a bunch of company executives?

In the case of the Nationwide the golden goodbye is worth 3.5 times as much.

Nationwide would, no doubt, deny there is any connection between its payoffs to its former executives and the £980,000 fine the FSA levied after the UK’s largest building society lost the personal data of thousands of its customers.

But isn’t that precisely the problem? Where does the buck stop with data breaches? We can pillory the courier firm or the IT department staffer who had their laptop stolen, but shouldn’t the organisations’ executives also bare responsibility?

The FSA fine hits the savers and mortgage holders of Nationwide not the board. Now it has emerged that former chief executive Philip Williamson retired a month after the fine was levied, with a £1.6m pay off.

Bernard Simpson, former deputy chief executive was sent into retirement in May with £890,000 on top of his underlying £1m remuneration. Meanwhile Jim Willens, group operations director, got a deal worth £926,000.

These payments, we are told, were meant to ease a merger between Nationwide and the Portman building society. Would the awards have been higher if the data breach had not occurred? Don’t hold your breath waiting for an answer.

PS: It is personal. My mortgage is with the Nationwide.

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