Fred Goodwin 'forced' to make up staff pay

SHAMED Royal Bank of Scotland chief Fred Goodwin was a "ruthless" cash manager whose actions after joining embattled Scots architectural firm RMJM led to salaries not being paid and staff defecting, according to a former senior executive.

David Pringle said the former Royal Bank of Scotland chief, who was hired by Edinburgh-based RMJM on a reported six-figure salary in January 2010 only to relinquish his duties about a year later, was "deeply unpopular" with many of the firm's directors and staff due to his effect on the way the firm was managed during a turbulent period in its history.

Goodwin was given the senior manager position at RMJM in a surprise move after the rest of the business world shunned him following the forced bail-out of RBS. The bank posted the biggest losses in British corporate history.

However, Pringle, who was one of 80 staff to resign from RMJM's Hong Kong business last year, says Goodwin's reign was "the straw that broke the camel's back".

At one stage, Pringle claimed, he was forced to dip into his own pocket to make up salaries after Goodwin's "ruthless" cash-management strategy led to wages being paid late.

The former chief executive officer of RMJM's Middle East and Asia business says he made a 200,000 "short-term loan" to the company before his departure in June.

Speaking from Hong Kong, Pringle, the only architect on the RMJM board, told Scotland on Sunday: "There was a central management of cash for a period of time by Fred Goodwin - quite a ruthless movement of money from the areas in the company that were making money to places where it was needed, and we never got to the bottom of the reasons behind that movement of money. The fall-out was people were being paid late regularly.

"I felt forced to make up salary payments for the Asia region more than once out of my own money because managing staff in this part of the world is very difficult.

"Fred was deeply unpopular with most of the directors and staff that he came into contact with. A fantastic, lovely guy socially - but in work mode no empathy, very hard, making some very difficult decisions."

Pringle joined RMJM in the early 1990s and once managed the Scottish business before it was bought by Sir Fraser Morrison in 2003.? The Morrison family ploughed 8 million into RMJM in March to shore up the company. Sir Fraser's son, Peter Morrison, is chief executive.

A spokesman for RMJM, the world's fifth-largest architectural practice, said: "As David himself acknowledged, the strategic decisions we've taken and the recent, multi-million pound investment from the Morrison family mean that the firm is in very healthy shape.Our heavyweight architectural teams are winning work in all our major markets, including the Far East, and our 850-strong team is looking forward with great confidence."

RMJM's latest financial accounts, which were due by January 31, have still not been filed at Companies House.

Matrix, the barristers acting for Sir Fred and Olswang, his solicitors, said it was not within their remit to comment.