Stephen Hester, chief executive of Royal Bank of Scotland, has admitted that accepting his £1m bonus would have damaged the bank.
Hester said he had considered resigning in the face of sustained public pressure over the fortunes of the taxpayer-backed bank, but ultimately decided it would be "indulgent" to quit.
“I’m certainly not a robot…there have been some deeply depressing moments," he told the BBC's Today programme on Wednesday.
"In the end, in the intensity of it, I came to the conclusion I thought it would be indulgent of me to resign and what I ought to do was draw on reserves of strength I have and try and make RBS a success."
Asked whether he took the decision to turn down the £963,000 bonus because of pressure from politicians, the public and the media he said: "I took the judgement that it was going to be damaging to RBS."
RBS is 83 per cent owned by the taxpayer after the government had to step in to rescue the bank following the financial crisis of 2008.
Defending his stewardship of the bank over the course of the last three years, Hester said he and his team were defusing the "biggest time bomb in history in terms of bank balance sheets" and deserved to be rewarded.
"When I was asked to take on this job I had to replace the whole senior management team of RBS, we had to go around the world," he said.
"I think the reasons people working across a wide range of issues is part to do with satisfaction and in part to do with how they get paid."
"We would make mistake if we forget how wealth is generated and how successful people are motivated," he added.
However Hester did acknowledge that the UK's banking sector had become overconfident in the years leading up to the crash and had been guilty of "hubris:
But he added: "Let's not demonise a whole industry...there are millions of people doing a good job, an essential job, we need to correct the areas where that job was done poorly."
Hester was also quizzed on how his parents felt about his bonus, having once previously remarked that they thought he was paid too much.
"I love and admire my parents, I think they love and admire me," he said. "I think they feel upset I accused them of what I accused them of."