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Despite denials, Feds knew of Merrill bonuses
Bank of America already had received federal assistance, getting a separate $25 billion in October.
Capitol Hill lawmakers, as well as the SEC, also are looking into accusations the bank improperly concealed billions of dollars in losses and billions in bonuses paid by Merrill Lynch before a shareholder vote on their proposed merger.
A judge last month rejected a $33 million settlement between the SEC and Bank of America, saying the SEC’s accusations of inadequate disclosure by the bank over bonuses paid at Merrill Lynch must go to trial.
The notion that banks would continue to hand out bonuses to executives after receiving government bailout money has struck a raw nerve with the public and Congress. The fervor boiled over in March when news broke that American International Group Inc. doled out at least $165 million in executive bonus pay after being awarded $170 billion in taxpayer loans and incentives.
The House this summer passed a bill that would give federal regulators the authority to cap pay incentives if they think the provisions would encourage bankers and other financial executives to take risks that could threaten the economy or the viability of their companies.
The measure includes an administration-backed “say-on-pay” provision that would give company shareholders annual, nonbinding votes on top executives’ compensation, including lucrative arrangements such as “golden parachutes.”
The Senate has yet to take up the measure.
About the Author
Sean Lengell covers Congress and national politics and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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