Since my entry two weeks ago, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo chimed in again on Merrill Lynch 2008 bonuses in a letter (.pdf) to Congressman Barney Frank, Chairman of the House Committee on Financial Services. The letter does not name names, but outlines numerous multi-million dollar payments to Merrill executives with the top 149 receiving approximately $858 million. Stunning to say the least.
Cuomo attacks the timing and amount of the bonuses:
Rather, 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. Merrill Lynch had never before awarded bonuses at such an early date and this timetable allowed Merrill to dole out huge bonuses ahead of their awful fourth quarter earnings announcement and before the planned takeover of Merrill by Bank of America.
Merrill Lynch’s decision to secretly and prematurely award approximately $3.6 billion in bonuses, and Bank of America’s apparent complicity in it, raise serious and disturbing questions. By December 8, 2008, Merrill and presumably Bank of America must have been aware that the fourth quarter and yearly earnings results were disastrous.