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Barclays defends bonuses amid layoffs

LONDON — Barclays PLC faced widespread criticism Tuesday after the scandal-plagued bank announced plans to slash up to 12,000 jobs this year while also setting aside more money to pay bonuses.

The bonus pool rose by $345 million in 2013 — a move chief executive Antony Jenkins defended despite his mission to improve trust in the institution following scandals including its involvement in the rigging of the Libor interbank lending rate.

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‘‘At Barclays, we believe in paying for performance and paying competitively,’’ he said.

Despite his defense, there has been a lot of disquiet to the move by Britain’s second biggest bank by assets, even among those who would usually offer their support.

Roger Barker, director of corporate governance at the Institute of Directors, was among those voicing concern over the increase in the bonus pool. In 2013, he noted that the bank paid out about $1.04 billion in dividends compared to a staff bonus pool of $2.87 billion.

‘‘It cannot be right in any business for the executive bonus pool to be nearly three times bigger than the total dividend payout to the company’s owners,’’ he said. ‘‘The question must be asked — for whom is this institution being run?’’

At the same time as it ramped up its bonus pool, the bank said between 10,000 and 12,000 jobs will go from a total workforce of 140,000. Around 400 of those jobs will go in the investment division, one of the targets of Jenkins’ plan to transform the bank’s reputation.

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