Cuomo: Merrill Lynch ‘secretly' rushed out bonuses

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said in a letter Tuesday that Merrill Lynch executives secretly rushed out bonuses after Cuomo asked them to disclose their bonus plans.

Cuomo's office, as well as the N.C. Department of Justice, is investigating why Merrill CEO John Thain handed out $3.6 billion in employee bonuses in December, even though financial firms usually award bonuses in the first quarter. Cuomo and others allege that Merrill wanted to distribute the money before revealing its dismal results for the fourth quarter, when it lost more than $15 billion.

Cuomo originally asked Merrill for information on its bonus plan back in October, a couple of weeks after the government announced that it would lend money directly to Merrill and eight other major banks. At the time, Merrill told Cuomo's office that bonuses would be based on performance and retention needs, but did not provide details.

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