5 Mar 2009

Merrill execs subpoenaed in New York

1:59 pm on 5 March 2009

New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo issued subpoenas on Wednesday to seven executives who received $US209 million in pay in 2008 from Merrill Lynch & Co before it was taken over by Bank of America.

The attorney general's office is investigating $US3.6 billion in bonuses paid by Merrill before it merged with Bank of America Corp. The probe began last October.

Merrill had a net loss of $US27.6 billion last year.

The names of some of Merrill's top earners and their compensation were published by the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday.

Last month, testimony was taken under oath from former Merrill head John Thain and Bank of America chief executive Kenneth Lewis

Bank of America has filed a motion in New York State Supreme Court asking a judge to "either quash, fix conditions or modify" the subpoena of Mr Thain.

The bank asked that information in the subpoena be kept confidential by the Attorney General's Office and not be made public.

The Wall Street Journal said Merrill's 10 highest-paid employees received a total of $US209 million in cash and stock in 2008 compared with $US201 million paid to the top 10 in 2007.

It reported 11 top executives were paid more than $US10 million in cash and stock last year.