So, apparently Attorney General Andrew Cuomo read this morning about John Thain's intention to take home a bonus valued at ten million dollars this year, while the ML dies in a fire. And, despite the birthday hangover, sat down at his word processor to compose some thoughts on the matter. Turns out he's not down with Thain's plans. Sayeth Andy:
On November 5, 2008, the Board responded and stated that any bonuses would be based upon a combination of performance and retention needs. In Iight of these factors, current reports that the Board is considering giving Merrill's Chief Executive Officer a $10 million bonus are nothing less than shocking.
Utilizing Merrill's own criteria, a bonus of this size appears unjustified. In terms of performance, Merrill has reported losses for every quarter this year and has lost more than $11 billion for the year as a whole. Indeed, Merrill's decision to be taken over by Bank of America seems to have been the only thing that saved Merrill from collapse.
Clearly, the performance of Merrill's top executives throughout Merrill's abysmal year in no way justifies significant bonuses for its top executives, including the CEO. With respect to retention, it is our understanding that Bank of America has already determined that
Merrill's CEO will run the merged company's global banking, securities, and wealth management businesses. Thus, the need for retention does not appear to justify a substantial bonus for him.
My concern is in no way meant to be a comment on any individual's personal capacity or
conduct, but rather is based on an institutional and policy concern. In this context, I represent the taxpayers who demand accountability, transparency, and responsibility. Taxpayers are being crushed by the losses on Wall Street and now are paying billions in bailout funds. Bank of America, for example, which is taking over Merrill Lynch', has received approximately $25 billion in TARP funds. Paying executives at Merrill millions each in "performance" bonuses in this context would be oxymoronic to say the least and certainly a thumb in the eye to taxpayers.
Enough is enough.
If the Board does intend to pay its CEO and other top executives significant bonuses, we
would like the chance to first meet with you to discuss the justifications behind such
expenditures. Please let my Office know as soon as possible what the Board's intentions are.