Four of the top executives at Merrill Lynch pocketed $121 million in bonuses just before taxpayers helped finance a takeover of the failing firm, the Daily News has learned.
The flush foursome each pocketed payments ranging from $18 million to $39 million, investigators from the state attorney general's office found.
Attorney General Andrew Cuomo for the past month has been examining the highly suspicious timing of the last-minute Merrill handouts.
In all, Merrill doled out $3.6 billion in bonuses just days before Bank of America finalized its deal to buy the collapsing firm - with the help of $45 billion in taxpayer money...
"One disturbing question that must be answered is whether Merrill Lynch and Bank of America timed the bonuses in such a way as to force taxpayers to pay for them through the deal funding," Cuomo wrote to Frank.
Cuomo's investigators have been particularly interested in Merrill's rush to pay the perks in December, a month before the usual January bonus timetable.
Cuomo called the decision to accelerate the bonuses "a surprising fit of corporate irresponsibility" that "richly rewarded their failed executives."
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