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Cuomo hits Merrill on bonuses

February 12, 2009|Associated Press

New York Atty. Gen. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday laid out further details about $3.6 billion in bonuses Merrill Lynch & Co. executives received, calling the investment bank's leaders irresponsible.

Cuomo detailed the size and scope of the bonuses in a letter to U.S. House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.).

"In a surprising fit of corporate irresponsibility, it appears that, instead of disclosing their bonus plans in a transparent way as requested by my office, Merrill Lynch secretly moved up the planned date to allocate bonuses and then richly rewarded their failed executives," Cuomo stated. In the letter, Cuomo said he requested information on Merrill's expected bonuses as early as Oct. 29 but never received any details about the size of the bonus pool and the criteria the company planned to use to make the awards.

The Merrill bonuses were paid in late December, just days before Bank of America Corp. completed its purchase of New York-based Merrill. The payments also came when Merrill, which was among the Wall Street firms hit hardest by the credit crisis, was on the brink of reporting a fourth-quarter loss that exceeded $15 billion.

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