Top NY legal officer demands bonus list from BoA CEO

Written by Reuters | New York | Updated: Feb 28 2009, 06:10am hrs
New Yorks top legal officer on Thursday demanded Bank of America Corp Chief Executive Kenneth Lewis provide names of Merrill Lynch executives who received 2008 bonuses, and how much they got, before the banks takeover of the firm in January.

Executive compensation is a burning issue in the financial industry and challenges to pay are being led by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, whose office deposed former Merrill CEO John Thain on Tuesday for a second time over $3.6 billion in bonuses.

I answered all the questions to the best of my knowledge and hopefully brought some clarity, Lewis told reporters after he gave a deposition in Manhattan to Cuomos lawyers on Thursday that lasted about four hours.

Its been a long evening and Im tired, said Lewis, who was served a subpoena for the list of names.

A Bank of America spokesman, who was with Lewis during the deposition, said he had not been given an indication of whether Lewis would have to return for further questioning.

Cuomos special assistant, Benjamin Lawsky, said on Thursday night that the office was very disappointed that the Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank had not provided the information previously.

Weve been asking for a list of who got what, said Lawsky.Cuomo began questioning bonus plans in October after nine banks received $125 billion in U.S. Treasury funds.

In a statement, Lawsky said: We obviously wanted to question Mr. Lewis about this list and are very disappointed that Bank of America has chosen not to produce it.As a result, during the testimony this evening, we served a subpoena on Bank of America for the list, which we intend to obtain.

Earlier this week, Cuomos office alleged that Bank of America was obstructing its probe into bonuses that the attorney general has said made millionaires out of hundreds of employees at the Merrill brokerage amid billions in losses.

Lawsky declined to say whether Lewis testimony contradicted that of Thain, who was deposed under a court order to provide details of bonuses awarded to individual executives before Merrill was taken over by Bank of America on January 1.