Stephen Hester, the boss of Royal Bank of Scotland, admitted 2012 had been a “chastening” year as losses at the bailed out bank widened to more than £5bn.

Despite the loss, RBS has paid out bonuses of £287m to its investment bankers, although it did claw back £72m to penalise them for the £390m Libor fine.

The payment protection insurance scandal continued to weigh on the bank, which took a further £450m charge to take the total cost to £2.2bn while the cost of the interest rate swap mis-selling scandal has required a further £650m charge.

Hester, who is four years into his five year plan to turn the bank round after a record £24bn loss in 2008, said he believed that privatisation of the bank was drawing nearer: “the light at the end of the tunnel is coming much closer,” he said.

Hester stressed that the bank’s assets have been axed by £906bn since their peak in 2008 at the time of the £45bn taxpayer bail out.

He said: “2012 saw landmark achievements for RBS. It was also a chastening year. Along with the rest of the banking industry we faced significant reputational challenges as we worked with regulators to put right past mistakes. We are determined to overcome the cultural and reputational baggage of pre-crisis times with the same focus we have applied to the financial clean-up from that era”.

Asked on ITV Daybreak if the taxpayer would ever get back its money, RBS chairman Sir Philip Hampton said: “I don’t know. We’ll do our best”.

RBS losses widen on PPI and Libor charges – The Guardian
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