US president Barack Obama has outlined plans to make Wall Street bankers pay back almost $120bn (£73bn) to taxpayers.
Putting forward proposals for a Financial Crisis Responsibility Fee to be paid by banks and other financial institutions, the president said it would ensure that American taxpayers are ‘fully compensated for the extraordinary assistance they gave to Wall Street’ when the banks were bailed out during the financial crisis.
He is targeting banks which have sparked public fury by paying out multi-million pound bonuses just months after taking state support to save them from collapse.
“My commitment is to recover every single dime the American people are owed,” the president said. “We want our money back and we are going to get it.
“If these companies are in good enough shape to afford massive bonuses, they are surely in good enough shape to pay back every penny to taxpayers,” he added.
The White House announcement came as banking chiefs faced a grilling from the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission about the role they played in the near meltdown of the financial system in 2008. There were calls for Gordon Brown to follow Mr Obama in imposing a special tax on banks to pay for the cost of bailing out UK institutions. Chancellor Alistair Darling has imposed a 50% levy on bonuses over £25,000 paid by financial institutions in the UK before April 5.