Merrill Lynch Gave Top Earners $209 Million In 2008 (SLIDESHOW)

Merrill Lynch Gave Top Earners $209 Million In 2008 (SLIDESHOW)

UPDATE: Some of the top earners at Merrill Lynch who were given $209 million in 2008 were subpoenaed by New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday, a source close to the investigation tells the Huffington Post.

The subpoenas were served on the seven executives - including Andrea Orcel, the firm's top investment banker (who was paid $33.8 million in cash and stock in 2008), trading chief Thomas Montag and former head of strategy Peter Kraus, who were named in a story in the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, according to the source.

The subpoenas compel the executives, some of whom currently work at Bank of America, to come in and discuss their bonuses, who they communicated with regarding their bonuses, when they got their bonuses and other relevant information, says the source.


Nothing seems shocking these days when it comes to bailed out banks. We learned after the Super Bowl that Bank of America had spent millions on a carnival and other perks during the event, that former Merrill CEO John Thain had doled out over a million dollars to redecorate his office and that AIG was sending its executives to a spa.

Today's Wall Street Journal article on the $209 million given to Merrill Lynch's top ten earners in 2008 takes the cake. The revelation is causing more problems for the company. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that,

"Bank of America is expected to file a motion on Wednesday in New York State Supreme Court to keep the compensation data from becoming public. Next week, Mr. Cuomo (NY's Attorney General) intends to make his case that the data shouldn't be kept confidential. A judge is expected to rule on March 13."

Cuomo's brother, Chris, also said on "Good Morning America" that Bank of America would be fighting to keep its pay structure secret.


We produced a slideshow with photos of some of the men.

Read more about the bonuses from Reuters and The Wall Street Journal:

The Wall Street Journal has identified most of the top 10 executives and their compensation levels from documents and interviews with people familiar with Merrill's compensation. Merrill's 10 highest-paid employees got a total of $209 million in cash and stock in 2008, up slightly from $201 million paid to the top 10 a year earlier, according to the figures reviewed by the Journal. In 2007, 28 Merrill employees were paid more than $10 million. That total doesn't include Merrill's private-client group, where its brokers work.

Much of the 2008 pay came from bonuses, since base salaries for top Merrill executives generally range from $200,000 to $750,000. Some of the top Merrill earners ran divisions that did well last year amid the firm's troubles.

Some of Merrill's senior executives, including John Thain, the firm's former chairman and chief executive, got no bonuses in 2008. But information reviewed by the Journal shows that some traders and investment bankers faced only small pay cuts last year, even though the Merrill units they ran posted significant losses.

Andrea Orcel, the firm's top investment banker, was paid $33.8 million in cash and stock in 2008, the paper said.

New York's Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has been investigating whether billions paid in executive bonuses at Merrill Lynch ahead of its takeover by Bank of America were sanctioned by the Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank.

Eleven top executives were paid more than $10 million in cash and stock last year, the paper said, citing people familiar with the situation. Another 149 received $3 million or more, the paper said.

The stock awards, which accounted for much of the compensation, have fallen sharply in value since they were made last year, according to the paper.

Much of the 2008 pay came from bonuses, since base salaries for top Merrill executives generally ranged from $200,000 to $750,000, the paper said.

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