New York AG investigating Merrill bonuses?

This snippet caught my eye in today’s New York Times report on John Thain’s resignation:

But despite the mounting losses, Merrill Lynch rushed to pay annual bonuses to its employees before its deal with Bank of America closed on Jan. 1. Those payments are now under investigation by the attorney general of New York, a person briefed on the investigation said Thursday.

Much can and deserves to be said about Thain’s conduct at Merrill. His alleged office decorating spree in the face of layoffs of thousands of employees and need for taxpayer support is astounding on its own, but the accelerated bonuses are reckless, at best.

Thain could not have thought he would get away it. Why did he do it? His reputation is now tarnished. He may even face civil or criminal liability. It would be fascinating to know what calculations he made.

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