Sants told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday that the size of individual payments “is not one for financial regulators”.
He said: “That is one for politicians and society as a whole. If politicians wish to take a view on that, then they should say so, but they should not be asking the regulator to carry out a pay policy. Our job is to make sure that banks do not pay out in aggregate more than they should do and do not put the banks themselves at risk.”
Sants refused to take a view on whether banks such as RBS, which is 70 per cent owned by the taxpayer but has set aside £1.8bn for bonuses for its investment arm, should be showing more humility.
He said: “The question of how the total pot of profits should be split between the shareholder and the employees is one primarily for the shareholder to answer.
“In many cases now, the government is the shareholder. So I think that is a question for government and politicians. Asking the regulator to solve that, I would say is arguably passing the buck.”