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Opening Bell: 01.30.09

Ex-Merrill Executives Got Burned by Madoff (WSJ)

Former Merrill chief executives Daniel Tully and David Komansky, along with former Merrill investment-banking chief Barry Friedberg, personally invested in hedge funds with Madoff exposure run by former Merrill brokerage chief John "Launny" Steffens, according to people familiar with the matter. The Merrill executives are the highest-level Wall Street victims of the scandal to surface until now.
Mr. Steffens had exposure to Mr. Madoff's Ponzi scheme via investments made by funds run by Spring Mountain Capital LP. Mr. Steffens formed Spring Mountain in 2001 in partnership with J. Ezra Merkin, a top Madoff investor. Spring Mountain invested in three Merkin-led funds, and Mr. Steffens says he was aware of heavy Madoff exposure in one.

Big Bucks For SEC Boss (NYP)
"US Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Mary Schapiro was to receive $5 million to $25 million in benefits when she resigned from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority to join the government.
Schapiro had a $2.75 million salary as head of Finra, the US brokerage watchdog, according to disclosure documents. She also got $675,033 in deferred compensation and $184,600 in connection with sitting on the board of Kraft Foods. She resigned that seat Jan. 15 and reported holding Kraft stock worth up to $1 million."
Cuomo May Seek Return of $4 Billion in Early Merrill Bonuses (Bloomberg)
Says a person familiar with the matter. And this time he might be serious!
Survivors' Gilt (NYP)
US Airways Flight 1549 passengers are not happy with the "coveted" Chairman's Preferred status CEO Doug Parker has offered them through March 2010. They want it for life, and death to all things geese.