Merrill Lynch Paid $121 Million to Top Four Bonus Recipients

The timing of the bonus handouts is suspect.

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Merrill Lynch dished out a combined $121 million to the top four bonus recipients at the firm, right before Merrill was acquired by Bank of America Corp. Sheesh. Talk about shady timing.

Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has been investigating the last-minute timing of the bonuses and presented his findings earlier this week to Democratic Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank.

"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 in a February 10 letter to Frank. The letter became public yesterday, the day that the chief executives from the eight largest U.S. banks faced the ire of lawmakers at a committee hearing in Washington.