State-owned Royal Bank of Scotland posted a fourth quarter loss of nearly 2 billion pounds, hurt by writedowns on assets and restructuring costs, although it still paid out almost 1 billion pounds in bonuses to staff in 2011.

RBS, 82 percent owned by the government after a state bailout during the 2008 credit crisis, reported a fourth-quarter loss of 1.8 billion pounds, pushing it back into the red after it made a third-quarter profit of 1.2 billion.

RBS said staff costs at its GBM investment banking division, where it is cutting thousands of jobs, were 2.45 billion pounds in 2011, down 9 percent from the previous year.

It paid out 390 million pounds in bonuses for its GBM investment bankers for 2011, down 58 percent from 2010.

Across the bank, RBS paid out 985 million in bonuses, down 21 percent from 2010.

The pay of RBS' top staff has become a sore point for many Britons, who remain angered by the fact that bankers have continued to pay themselves large salaries while elsewhere thousands lose their jobs as the global economy weakens.

RBS Chairman Philip Hampton and Chief Executive Stephen Hester waived their bonuses earlier this month after politicians from all of the major parties called on them to refuse the awards.

RBS shares closed down 3.1 percent at 27.33 pence on Wednesday - still well below the average 49.9 pence price at which the taxpayer acquired its stake in the bank and leaving taxpayers sitting on more than 20 billion pounds worth of losses.

(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Mike Nesbit)