B of A - Merrill paid early bonuses while extorting taxpayers

Last week we wrote Paulson persists picking your pocket, wherein Bank of America took tax money from Henry Paulson under the threat of dumping the Merrill Lynch deal at the last minute.

Now we learn that while Bank of America was extorting taxpayers in the boardroom, Merrill was shoveling cash out the back door to executives:
Merrill Lynch took the unusual step of accelerating bonus payments by a month last year, doling out billions of dollars to employees just three days before the closing of its sale to Bank of America.

The timing is notable because the money was paid as Merrill’s losses were mounting and Ken Lewis, BofA’s chief executive, was seeking additional funds from the government’s troubled asset recovery programme to help close the deal.

[...]Nancy Bush, an analyst with NAB Research, described the size of the 2008 Merrill bonus payments as “ridiculous”.

BofA said: “Merrill Lynch was an independent company until January 1 2009. John Thain (Merrill’s chief executive) decided to pay year-end incentives in December as opposed to their normal date in January. BofA was informed of his decision.”

Good riddance to Hank Paulson. If only his replacement weren't Tim Geithner. And not because Geithner is a tax cheat. He was president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York as the banks under his watch were taking on outrageous leverage to load up on toxic assets. And he was Vice Chairman of Greenspan's Open Market Committee that created the housing bubble. It's like nominating the captain of the Exxon Valdez to run the Environmental Protection Agency.

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