Merrill Lynch pay clashes with bank losses

March 4, 2009 at 9:44 AM
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NEW YORK, March 4 (UPI) -- Eleven top executives at New York's Merrill Lynch & Co. might call 2008 a good year, reaping more than $10 million apiece, in spite of staggering bank losses.

Even as the bank lost $27.6 billion last year, one executive, investment banker Andrea Orcel, was given $33.8 million in compensation for the year, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

Paychecks of $3 million or more were handed out to 149 Merrill Lynch employees, the Journal said.

Thomas Montag, now head of global markets at Bank of America, was given a $39.4 million package and $50 million worth of Merrill Lynch stock. Peter Kraus, Merrill Lynch's head of strategy, received $29.4 million.

New York State is investigating the compensation that state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has called extravagant given the billions of taxpayer dollars that have gone into propping up the banks.

Cuomo is also investigating the possibility the banks may have violated public disclosure laws related to payments. Bank of America is expected file papers in New York State Supreme Court to block public disclosure of names of employees and other payment information.

"Bank of America continues to be concerned about the right of privacy of any employee," a bank spokesman said.

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