AG Cooper: Bonuses may be repaid

March 25, 2009 4:11:19 AM PDT
The Attorney General says he may try to get bank executives to re-pay billions in bonuses.Roy Cooper tells Eyewitness News that the Bank of America executives who once worked for Merrill Lynch at the end of last year were paid $3.6 billion dollars in bonuses just before Charlotte-based Bank of America took over Merrill Lynch.

The Merrill Lynch bonuses are 20 times greater than the AIG bonuses that sparked outrage in the streets and in Congress last week.

    Steve Daniels: Are you going to try to recover those Merrill Lynch bonuses?
    Cooper: You look at it and you say something's not right here and that's why I launched the investigation.
The Attorney General says Bank of America is now turning over information to his office about the bonuses.

"We're going to do what we can to hold people accountable," Cooper said.

Bank of America has received $45 billion in taxpayer money as part of the government bailout.

Last month, Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis was subpoenaed to disclose details about those bonuses. But he did not tell the New York attorney general who got the bonuses until a judge ordered the bank to turn over the details last week.

    Steve Daniels: Andrew Cuomo, the NY AG has managed to get AIG executives to repay those bonuses that have been in the spotlight, do you envision the same kind of thing happening with Merrill Lynch?
    Cooper: Well that's certainly a potential and I think that with AIG the entire country rose up, people weighed in and said this is not right.
    Steve Daniels: We'll be hearing more about Merrill Lynch?
    Cooper: Absolutely, absolutely, yes. The American people particularly with taxpayers money invested are not going to tolerate people getting windfalls.
Bank of America has said Merrill Lynch was an independent company last year and its board of directors approved the bonus payments.

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