Thain and Lewis need to be prosecuted for basically stealing hundreds of millions of taxpayer money.
Four of the top executives at Merrill Lynch pocketed $121 million in bonuses just before taxpayers helped finance a takeover of the failing firm, the Daily News has learned.
The flush foursome each pocketed payments ranging from $18 million to $39 million, investigators from the state attorney general's office found.
In all, Merrill doled out $3.6 billion in bonuses just days before Bank of America finalized its deal to buy the collapsing firm - with the help of $45 billion in taxpayer money.
Cuomo presented his initial findings Tuesday to Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), whose House Financial Services Committee holds hearings Wednesday in Washington on how banks are spending bailout funds.
"One disturbing question that must be answered is whether Merrill Lynch and Bank of America timed the bonuses in such a way as to force taxpayers to pay for them through the deal funding," Cuomo wrote to Frank.
Cuomo's investigators have been particularly interested in Merrill's rush to pay the perks in December, a month before the usual January bonus timetable.
Cuomo called the decision to accelerate the bonuses "a surprising fit of corporate irresponsibility" that "richly rewarded their failed executives."
Cuomo has subpoenaed former Merrill Chief Executive Officer John Thain and Bank of America's chief administrative officer, Steele Alphin, about the bonuses.
When Cuomo first asked Merrill about its bonus plans back in October, Merrill claimed it hadn't finalized the total size of its bonus pool.
Soon after, it was revealed that Thain was angling for a $40 million bonus. When that embarrassing fact went public, Thain backed off.
Four of his top deputies faced no such change of fortune, however, pocketing a total of $121 million as Merrill evaporated.
One beneficiary was Peter Kraus, a Thain hire who started at Merrill in mid-September and quit Dec. 18, the day Bank of America took over.
The other is Montag both Goldman executives hired by Thain and they both received monstrous sign on Bonus payment of about 50 mil. each as did Thain himself ( searching for the numbers).
Merrill Lynch To Pay Thomas Montag $39.4 Mln Bonus For FY08 (thats for 4 months)(RTTNews) - In a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Merrill
In addition, Montag, who will be receiving his bonus in cash and stock-based compensation in January 2009, will also be receiving compensation for the forfeiture of equity awards from his former employer Goldman Sachs Group Inc.
He walked away with a $29.4 million bonus for those three months of work, which figures to about $294,000 a day. The day he quit, his wife closed on a $36 million luxury Park Ave. co-op, records show.
Kraus declined to answer questions, although a source familiar with the matter said the amount was guaranteed in his Merrill contract.
Cuomo's investigators want to know why Merrill thought such a guarantee was appropriate given the firm's collapse - and why Merrill didn't try to void it.
The bonuses were handed out just before Merrill announced a record $15 billion loss for the fourth quarter,which brought the year's total losses to nearly $27 billion.
The new leader didn’t come cheap. When Thain joined Merrill in December 2007, he was awarded a signing bonus of $15m and an incentive plan tied closely to the value of Merrill shares, then worth some $68m.
and he was reckless and greedy enough to go for a year end bonus of 20-40 mil. for himself.
Thain,Kraus and Montag to name the most prominent Goldman's in Merrill sacked in hundreds of millions for 3 -14 months of being around. Thain gave undeserved perks to second tier mangers as well as he promoted them to new positions with a change of control clause in their contracts entitling them to pays of 10-20 mil in case Merrill was taken over.He had such a clause for himself as well and his buddies.