Merrill Lynch Bonus Recipients May Be Revealed Next Week

Well, it looks like the whole Merrill Lynch bonus scandal may have a Scooby Doo ending — with a judge unmasking the executives by the end of next week.

“What I am going to try to do is get a decision written in the next week or less,” the judge said as the hearing ended.

Bank of America is arguing that by revealing the compensation numbers they are divulging a corporate secret — and by betraying their employee’s privacy scary foreign banks will be able to swoop in and steal all their “top talent.”

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo thinks that’s a load of crap.

“Imagine, tomorrow in the Daily News, 200 names and their compensation,” [a lawyer for Bank of America] said. “Americans care about their privacy. That matters to us because if we don’t try to protect it and succeed in protecting it, we’ll lose them to foreign banks.”

So, does that mean the foreign taxpayers will have to pay their bonuses then, or how will that work?

Merrill Bonus Recipients May Be Named Within a Week (Update2) [Bloomberg]
(Photo:epichrmus)

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  1. dorianh49 says:

    Ruh-oh.

  2. NightSteel says:

    First off, BoA, if foreign banks really wanted to swoop in and steal your ‘top talent’, they could do it without the bonus information.

    Second, your ‘top talent’ is responsible for the cooling of the global economy. The only thing foreign banks are going to do with this bonus information is laugh at it, because these farkups got paid so much to run us all into the ground.

    Die in a fire.

  3. philmin says:

    Its funny to think that you would recruit someone based on how big their bonus was, versus, say, relevant pieces of information about their work.

    • dohtem says:

      @philmin: You are mostly right, but to be fair bonuses are typically a reflection of performance.*

      *Not counting CEOs and other higher ups that make out like bandits even when they fail miserably.

  4. Eryk says:

    @Nightsteel

    Die in a fire indeed.

    Thieves, the whole lot of them. No compassion exists in me to feel bad for those that took the money – they all had the option to do the right thing. They didn’t.

    Instead, we get hosed.

  5. KyleOrton says:

    He makes a great point, publishing this information will make the top talent resent government interference and move to Europe or China, where the governments are much less likely to interfere.

    er, wait.

    …move to Nicaragua or Zimbabwe where they’ll be safe from the government.

    umm, WHERE will they go?

  6. Nyses says:

    It is a bunch of crap. B of A and Merrill are only trying to dodge the bullet that is the EXTREEMLY pissed off American consumer.

    I am sure the rest of you reading this are in the same boat I am at work. If I do a piss poor job and make bad decisions, I get fired. I do NOT get a million dollar “performance” bonus.

    People are complaining left and right about the government getting involved in the “free market” What other check and balalnce system do we have? I do believe the last decade plus, has shown us that big business in fact cannot regulate itself. Pure “free markets” are all about the short term money gains and all else gets trodden on.

    • jimconsumer says:

      @Nyses: Hey, now, you wait just a minute here! Why are you blaming the bankers? Did they take the money from the taxpayers and give it to themselves?

      Why don’t you place your anger where it belongs – squarely on the shoulder of the federal government. I’m not mad at the bankers, I’m mad at the idiots in Washington D.C. who stole my money and gave it to said bankers, instead of letting them fail so more honorable folks could build new, better banks on their ashes.

  7. Inglix_the_Mad says:

    More fodder for Jon Stewart.

  8. ZukeZuke says:

    Man these bankers are still as delusional as a crackhead on Saturday night. The only thing foreign banks are gonna use this list for, is staying the hell away from those fools who helped drive the economy straight into the ground.

  9. ckaught78 says:

    It’s Old Man WIthers, the ammusment park operator.

    Thanks to the Billios in bonuses that the Merril employee’s got, the BofA guys got nothing. Some lending groups at BofA had there best years ever, but got nothing. I am all for rewarding performance, but what has happened here is pretty sad.

  10. youbastid says:

    Why, it wasn’t top talent at all! It was just old Mr. McGillicuddy, out to make a quick buck!

  11. HIV 2 Elway says:

    I still don’t see what releasing the names and compensation accomplishes. Aren’t there bigger fish to fry?

    • sebadoh128 says:

      @HIV 2 Elway Resurrected:

      Frying those bigger fish would require actual work.

      What makes this even more silly, is that at last check, that list of names did nothing illegal. This amounts to nothing more than a public shaming, so people who have not, can feel good about themselves.

      Great, I hope those great feelings you get from this list, helps you pay your mortgage bills, because your pending foreclosure is driving down my property values, comrade.

    • HFC says:

      @HIV 2 Elway Resurrected: No one thought Alex Rodriguez did anything wrong (other than hooking up with transvestites and Madonna) until his name was leaked for testing positive to steroids. We don’t know what information this list may give us.

      @sebadoh128: Will keeping the list of names and bonus amounts secret help those people pay their mortgage bill?

      • HIV 2 Elway says:

        @HFC: Pursuing MLB steroid users might be the only bigger waste of money than trying to get the names of bonus recipients.

  12. Scoobatz says:

    Once the list comes out, do I get all my money back?

  13. Peter_Betts says:

    I love it when they say that it is the American way RE: Privacy, but they are against the same Americans making their rightful decision on where to work and live. The quote makes it seem as if Foreign banks are slowly driving around the neighborhood in a white van with a list of names and a giant sack stealing all the bankers (jeez took long enough to get there eh?).

  14. bohemian says:

    When your “talent” screws up so much your company fails they are not, I repeat, not, top talent.

    Out them all and demand they repay the bonus money directly back against what they received through TARP. In a one step removed way they used taxpayer money to fund those bonuses.

    • sebadoh128 says:

      @bohemian:

      In a two step removed way, didn’t TARP money also go to bank tellers? I.T. people? Low-Mid Level bank managers? Share Holder Dividends?

      Why stop at the top? Take it all.

  15. InsertPithyNicknameHere says:

    I can actually understand the privacy argument, in that if I got some bonus from a company, I wouldn’t necessarily want that fact (and the amount) published in a national newspaper. However, I’d say there’s a simple solution for that: those who don’t want their information published can give the money back. Not that anybody would actually do it, but hey, there’s an option for you.

  16. desertdust says:

    I hope the IRS takes the list and makes sure that taxes are paid in full. Oh wait, Geithner is in charge.

  17. FooSchnickens - Full of SCAR says:

    And I’d have gotten away with it too, if it hadn’t been for you meddling lawyers and your STUPID WATCHDOG GROUP!!

  18. Corporate-Shill says:

    200 Names

    TWO HUNDRED execs?

    Damn right the names and wages need to be published.

  19. Chairman-Meow says:

    Won’t someone think of the executives!!!!1!!1!

  20. Gravitational Eddy says:

    Cue the villagers with pitchforks and clubs.

  21. JustThatGuy3 says:

    These demands are just Cuomo grandstanding and trying to set himself up to run for governor, and they’re likely to hurt the taxpayer.

    A good friend is at one of those “foreign banks,” and they’re getting flooded with resumes from people at TARP recipients who are worried that due to stuff like this, they won’t be able to get paid at their current employer. It’s great for his firm, since they can poach great people, but not so great for us taxpayers, since we’re going to lose the people best equipped to make money and get us repaid.

    • mac-phisto says:

      @JustThatGuy3: i have a hard time believing that any of these 200 people could be characterized as the “best equipped” to do anything but lie, cheat & steal.

      conversely, i think the people on these list are the ones responsible for great people not receiving bonuses due. if executives hadn’t spent the last 10 years raiding their company’s coffers, we wouldn’t even be in this mess b/c there would be sufficient capital at every one of these institutions. instead of reserving the profits, paying higher dividends or investing in capital, they cut themselves all huge-ass checks. & now we’re supposed to give them a pass? lemme think about that for a second…

      nah!

  22. Rob Weddle says:

    I’ve been a BoA customer for about 6 years now, and while I don’t have any specific spite for them (they’ve never done wrong by me in a way that wasn’t my own fault in the first place, and even been specifically helpful in a few instances), weaselly shit like this makes me want to drop them like a bad habit.

    I join the US Navy in June, and from there on out I’ll be all NFCU. For the sake of my principles, June can’t come soon enough.

    • mac-phisto says:

      @Rob Weddle: fwiw, it’s not really boa’s fault. the bonuses were paid by merrill right before boa took them over, ken lewis tried to back out of the deal once he found out the numbers were fudged, but paulson basically told him that would be a bad idea lest he want to wake up with a horse head in his bed.

      it really is his responsibility to withhold this information. if a court determines it’s his responsibility to turn it over, he will. if he doesn’t, then i would say that’s the appropriate time to get pissed off at boa. until then, rest blame where blame is due: squarely on the shoulders of merrill execs that cooked their books so they could squeeze non-existent cash out of their dead company.

  23. TheBursar says:

    Are they arguing that they are protecting their employees all the while paying them far less than foreign banks would?

  24. humphrmi says:

    This whole TARP thing has been a huge clusterfuck.

    First, they force banks that didn’t even need money to take it, and don’t let them pay it back without onerous requirements.

    Then they whine and bitch because those banks have the unmitigated gaul to want to keep their payroll records confidential.

    Glad to see that the CEO of Northern Trust gave Barney Frank the finger. I wish more bank execs had the spine.

  25. curtisawa says:

    Don’t we want them “swooped up” so we, the tax payers, don’t have to pay their ridiculous golden parachute firing clauses in their preposterous contracts when we fire their incompetent asses? Seems like a win-win to me.

  26. craptastico says:

    the execs getting the bonuses are not the ones that put the company into the ground. the problem with these companies is that it only takes one or two big mistakes by one or two people to sink the entire company. Stanley O’Neal did most of the damage as it was his idea to go so heavy in mortgages, and he was fired a year ago. investment bankers are paid primarily with their bonus, it is in essence their salary. i have a feeling the reactions here would be different if someone suggested Ford line workers not be paid their compensation b/c the company was run into the ground.

    • Corporate-Shill says:

      @craptastico:

      No, investment bankers receive a nominal salary and the bonus is a substantial portion of their wage package.

      Personally I would love to recieve just their nominal 6 digit salary.

  27. chrisjames says:

    So now BoA admits they count pay grade as a qualification for employment.

    Grah! It’s like they’re laughing in our faces.

  28. locakitty says:

    I work in a bonus structured environment (restaurant manager). If the company loses money I don’t get anything. I’ve been running at least a positive 5% bottom line since February 2008. I haven’t gotten a bonus since April (the company started doing really poorly then).

    I think what chafes me the most about this bonus giveaway was that they lost BILLIONS, not even just thousands, BILLIONS and still get rewarded.

    I should have been an investment banker.

  29. David Brodbeck says:

    I actually think our hangup about people knowing what we make is silly. Heck, in some fields it doesn’t exist — if you work for a government agency or a public university, your salary is most likely public knowledge.

  30. u1itn0w2day says:

    ” … divulging a corporate secret … ” – HUH

    I am wondering if their job title might reveal that they are delving into areas to which they have no business or illegal .

  31. princess_peach says:

    I think that you guys are missing the point here. If the government can demand that BofA publish how much individual employees earn, they can demand that any company publish compensation numbers for any employee. The government can technically look at income tax statements already… do they really need to make a big show of it? I am really concerned that this simply sets a bad precedent.

    • David Brodbeck says:

      @princess_peach: I really fail to see what would be so horrible about that. With any luck it would put some pressure on companies to make their salary structures less top-heavy.

  32. failurate says:

    The people on the list will basically be the co-conspirators in the gutting of the assets of the company, assets that belonged to the shareholders and other lien or rights holders.

  33. Corporate-Shill says:

    The salary disclosure is about the who but how-many.

    200 Execs was previously mentioned.

    TWO HUNDRED.

    For some of these companies 200 might be 1% of the total number of employees. 200 grossly overpaid employees.

    I have no problem with big bonuses. I only receive a nominal salary and then “get mine” as stock dividends and bonues. I also don’t “get mine” some years. Of course I work for the family business and this is the only practical way to reward me for the good and punish me for the bad.

    But 200 over paid employees? No way. Too high of a number. And the next think we will hear is these 200 grossly over paid employees received bonuses 10x their base salaries.

  34. frodolives35 says:

    The way it went down with the last minute payouts and the misleading disclosers is really suspect. I hope some people go to jail. BOA is doing the right thing waiting for the court to force discloser on princapal and bad precedent but I bet they wil be more than happy to turnover the names of the guys who helped to drain assets and hide true value in a company that has cost them alot. Merril is the poster child for how we have been fu**ed by corprate america while they laugh at us peons.

  35. Marshfield says:

    The lawyers are doing what they are paid to do, protect the corporation’s confidential information. Compensation is a private matter — usually — and I’d say they have a case, under normal circumstances. However, given that they are running with govt money, its not quite normal any more.

    Golden rule: he who has the gold, makes the rules seems to trump “privacy” and “competitive advantage” concerns.

  36. u1itn0w2day says:

    Although compensation maybe considered private in a publically traded company that took public money the public still should know the job title these bonus people have .And what they actually did to recieve the bonus .

    If you’re one of the top 200 executives in a multi national company you’re not exactly low profile or out of the public eye .

  37. RandomHookup says:

    The biggest ones getting ripped off are the stockholders of BoA. The bonuses were paid early and essentially came from them. BoA might not have even paid bonuses, but ML leadership snuck them in early.

  38. darkryd says:

    Top Talent??

    Take them off our hands, please!

  39. Anonymous says:

    What galls me is that bonuses should be based on performance & PROFIT. If you drive a company to the brink of failure, if you need to be bailed out by the government, you have no profit to pay bonuses! Here’s a novel idea… since the US government via taxpayer money owns such a large stake in these banks? Why not renegotiate every contract? Make every bonus profit driven. Guarantee salaries, but do away with luxuries & bonuses unless and until the execs & employees band together and show that they are doing something about cleaning the mess they created in the first place.
    Oh wait. I guess I thought I was over the rainbow or something. That sort of thing could only happen in Oz. (clicking heels) theres no place like home theres no place like home – that is, until i can no longer pay my taxes & yall take it from me!

  40. Anonymous says:

    Fortune-500 Companies and their dream teams of lawyers define a business “top talent” as a top executive who succeeds in bringing down its own Fortune-500 Employer. They also define demand in competition in world market for such “top talent” to help bring down more. KEKSI.