ING’s Dutch bonus treat

March 22, 2011, 6:50 PM UTC

In the you don’t see this every day department, executives at ING are giving back their bonuses.

ING (ING) CEO Jan Hommen sounded his hasty retreat in an op-ed piece Tuesday in a Dutch newspaper, after his 1.25 million-euro ($1.8 million) payout came under attack in the public and in Dutch parliament.

What, no bonus for this?

Two other top execs at ING, which has repaid only half of a 10 billion-euro financial crisis bailout, will give back their bonuses as well, which together amounted to another 1.25 million euros.

The twist came five days after the bonuses were disclosed in ING’s annual report. The disclosure prompted the Dutch finance minister to say Sunday he would introduce legislation prohibiting bailed-out bankers from getting bonuses.

The big American banks have more or less all repaid their bailouts, so there is no immediate carryover to these shores. But Hommen did show good banker form by blaming public criticism of the bonuses – rather than the bank’s own piggish behavior – for threatening to damage “the restored trust of our clients and of society” in the bank. It is good to see that line of thinking isn’t limited to this country.

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