No one comes out looking like a hero in the New York investigation of bonuses rushed out last year by teetering Merrill Lynch & Co.
Former Merrill Lynch chief executive John Thain, in just-released depositions to New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, appears incredulous at suggestions that he perhaps should have cut bonuses as Merrill's losses mounted to $15 billion for the fourth quarter.
The Merrill board, charged with representing the interests of shareholders, appears to have not even blinked when Thain said he wanted to hurry out the bonuses ahead of schedule — and ahead of the announcement about fourth-quarter losses.
And Bank of America Corp., which bought Merrill on Jan. 1, was highly involved in the bonus decisions, even if it didn't technically have any authority in them.
Thain said that Merrill provided for Bank of America "anything that they wanted to see." He said Merrill was operating as a company that was about to be bought, not by "what their technical rights were."
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