Equitable chief gets £150,000 pay rise

Equitable Life’s chief executive Charles Thomson saw his total pay rise by almost 30% in 2004, annual report and accounts for the group reveal today.

The mutual boss, who has been central to Equitable’s £4bn damages claim against Ernst & Young, the group’s former auditors, and ex-directors, saw his total pay rise from £508,113 to £659,813.

The hike is sure to cause controversy as the cash-strapped society attempts to drag its former auditors and directors through the courts for alleged negligence.

The report also revealed that Vanni Treves, Equitable’s chairman, saw his pay rise from £125,000 to £132,500, or by 6%.

In the high-court yesterday, Laurence Rabinowitz QC, defending six former directors of the mutual, descibed Equitable’s case as ‘over-lawyered,’ an echo of a phrase used by E&Y in its written submission in its defence.

E&Y’s submission has already revealed the deep level of feeling at the Big Four firm about the case. It begins its defence on Wednesday of next week.

Equitable came close to collapse recently after paying out bonuses that were too large for its with-profits fund to sustain, and after a High Court ruling forced it to pay out £1.5bn more than it expected to.

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