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"Prove critics wrong" under-fire RBS boss tells staff

Royal Bank of Scotland chief executive Stephen Hester leaves Glasgow University after delivering a speech on banking reform, in Glasgow
Royal Bank of Scotland chief executive Stephen Hester leaves Glasgow University after delivering a speech on banking reform, in Glasgow

LONDON (Reuters) - The boss of majority state-owned Royal Bank of Scotland urged his staff to "prove the critics wrong" and continue a clean-up that has cost 38 billion pounds ($60 billion) in the past three years.

"RBS is still in its loss making phase, which inevitably gives us communication challenges," RBS Chief Executive Stephen Hester said on Tuesday in a note to staff, seen by Reuters.

"There is no doubt that our position in the spotlight makes the job harder ... but the best way to deal with it is to prove the critics wrong."

Hester last week waived a near 1-million-pound bonus after the potential handout sparked a wave of political and public anger. Two days later former RBS CEO Fred Goodwin was stripped of his knighthood. RBS is 83 percent owned by taxpayers after needing a 45 billion pounds bailout in 2008.

"I am acutely conscious that the way our company has been in the media and political spotlight this last 10 days is discomforting to say the least," Hester said in the note.

He said RBS is still suffering "the costs of 'clean up' from our risky inheritance," estimating loan losses, disposal costs and restructuring charges of 38 billion pounds so far.

"We are ahead of schedule in that clean-up; in fact we have been able to spend money and accelerate it as the outside environment got worse," he said.

RBS is due to report its 2011 results and update on its recovery plan on February 24. ($1 = 0.6300 British pounds)

(Reporting by Steve Slater; Editing by Helen Massy-Beresford)

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