Part-nationalised Royal Bank of Scotland has lost more than 1,000 investment bankers to rivals amid a UK government clampdown on bonuses, it was reported today.
The traders and corporate financiers who have been lured away are estimated to have earned almost 8% of the bank's 2008 income, according to The Sunday Times.
It is thought pressure on 2009 bonuses from the British government - which will own 84% of RBS under its soon-to-complete toxic asset insurance scheme - will see a fresh round quit the group in the new year.
RBS was last week said to be planning to cave in to government demands over bonuses as a row escalated, with reports at one stage suggesting the bank's directors were ready to quit.
The bank was compelled to give the UK government power over its bonus pot as part of its entry into a scheme to insure its toxic assets, but has already voiced fears that draconian rules could see them lose top staff.
It has indicated that a clampdown on the amount it pays to its staff would put it at a competitive disadvantage and threaten its ability to recover and therefore return the British taxpayer's £46bn (€51bn) investment.