INVESTIGATIONS

Did Merrill Mislead Congress?

Watch out, John Thain: Andrew Cuomo has new details on Merrill Lynch’s bonus debacle. The New York attorney general is accusing the securities firm, bought by Bank of America on Jan. 1, of “misleading” Congress about when directors decided to pay out $3.6 billion in bonuses. On Nov. 24, as Merrill was piling up a $15 billion fourth-quarter net loss, a Merrill lawyer told Rep. Henry Waxman that bonus decisions hadn’t yet been made—though the firm’s compensation committee had voted two weeks earlier to move the bonus payments up from January to December. Also in Cuomo’s court filing today, he drops the bomb that Thain, Merrill’s chairman and CEO, “was told that he would lose any chance of succeeding [Ken] Lewis as CEO of Bank of America if he continued pressing Merrill for a 2008 bonus of as much as $40 million,” The Wall Street Journal reports. In the end, neither Lewis nor Thain collected a 2008 bonus, and Thain resigned from BofA in late January.