BUSINESS
03/01/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

NY Attorney General May Demand Return Of $4B In Merrill Bonuses

On Thursday Barack Obama slammed Wall Street companies for giving out $18.4 billion in bonuses last year at a time when the financial sector was being bailed out by taxpayers, calling the act "shameful." Among the companies that handed out fat bonuses last year was Merrill Lynch, to the tune of $4 billion. Now, Bloomberg News reports, the company may be asked to return the money by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo:

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo may demand the return of $4 billion in bonuses paid by Merrill Lynch & Co. just before it was acquired by Bank of America Corp., a person familiar with the matter said.

Cuomo also wants to know what Bank of America Chief Executive Officer Kenneth Lewis, 61, knew about the accelerated bonuses and about Merrill's surprise $15 billion net loss in the fourth quarter, the person said. Lewis fired Merrill's CEO John Thain this month after the losses required more federal aid. [...]

"No longer will this country stand for wasteful spending of tax dollars on bonuses for executives whose companies have taken huge losses and required taxpayer bailouts," Cuomo said today in a statement about bonuses paid at Wall Street firms that received funds from the Troubled Asset Relief Program or TARP.