This story appeared in Bank Digest .
Domestic Policy Subcommittee Chairman Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, has sent letters to federal officials involved in the merger of Merrill Lynch and Bank of America requesting documents about their knowledge of $3.62 billion in bonuses Merrill Lynch paid top executives at the company just weeks before $25 billion in federal aid was given to Bank of America for the merger. Kucinich states that: the bonuses were 22 times the size of the bonuses AIG awarded; they constituted a significant share (36.2 percent) of TARP funds allocated to Merrill Lynch; and they were not locked in by preexisting contract and were performance bonuses, as opposed to retention bonuses. Kucinich also noted that the Merrill Lynch Compensation Committee awarded the payments on Dec. 8, 2008, before the end of the fourth quarter, in which Merrill lost more than $15 billion, and after Merrill was informed that it would be allocated $10 billion in TARP funds. “These payments raise significant questions about what information Merrill Lynch and Bank of America executives shared with federal officials that oversaw the Merrill acquisition by Bank of America. Ordinary shareholders were unaware of the details of the bonus payments, but the U.S. government held 800,000 shares in preferred stock and warrants at the time and federal officials regularly met with both Bank of America and Merrill Lynch executives,” according to Kucinich.