George Soros said today that he sympathises with anti-Wall Street protests which he said had been caused by "bumper" bonuses paid by banks.

"I think I can sympathise with their views," Soros told a press conference at the UN headquarters when asked about the protesters who tried to take over Brooklyn Bridge at the weekend and have called a new rally in the New York financial district on Wednesday.

Soros, one of the world's richest men, said a lot of the anger shown by the anti-capitalist protesters had come out of the actions of the banks.

"Actually I can understand their sentiment, frankly," Soros said, highlighting the plight of small business owners who saw credit card charges rise from 8% to 28% after the 2008 crisis.

"Since they were relying on that credit to run their businesses an awful lot of them actually were put out of business. At the same time the decision not to inject capital into the banks, but to effectively relieve them of their bad assets and then allow them to earn their way out of a hole leaves the banks bumper profits and then allows them to pay bumper bonuses,'' he added.

Soros has made a huge fortune from speculating, including more than $1 billion by betting against the British pound in 1992. He spoke at a press conference at which he announced he would give up to $40m to the Millennium Villages Project helping development in many African countries.