More Pressure on Thain to Reveal Merrill Executive Bonuses

"I've never heard of a witness refusing to answer because an employer who fired him is directing him not to answer for non-privileged reasons," Lawsky said, after Thain and his attorney rebuffed at least four requests for the names.

A partial transcript of Thain's testimony made available by the Attorney General also reveals that, according to Thain, he and a key Bank of America official from the bank's human resources department, Andrea Smith, sat down prior to the merger to review the compensation packages together and make sure that both parties agreed on the size of the packages.

"Did Andrea Smith focus in on any particular people, do you recall, whose numbers she thought were too big?" Cuomo's lead attorney on the probe, Benjamin Lawsky asked.

"She did..." Thain answered.

"Or too small?" Lawsky said.

"I don't recall any of them being too small," Thain replied.

According to published reports and confirmations by the New York Attorney General's office, about 700 Merrill Lynch employees received bonuses in excess of a million dollars in 2008. The bank's four top executives received $121 million.

For a time, officials at BofA claimed they did not know about the bonus packages, and suggested they had no reason to as Merrill was an independent firm at the time. The bank has since acknowledged it was aware of the bonuses.

At the time Merrill awarded them, in December 2008, Thain knew it had lost $15 billion in the fourth quarter -- $7 billion more than expected when the performance bonus packages were drawn up, and yet he made no move to alter them, Cuomo's office alleges.

"For what performance? It's called performance bonus. It's an oxymoron," Cuomo told reporters after a speech to a New York fiscal policy group on on February 11th. "It's repugnant, it's obnoxious and it's wrong."

BofA did not return calls nor emails seeking comment.

Thain Spent Over $1 Million to Redecorate His Office

Bonuses aside, Thain became another symbol of corporate greed in the midst of a tanking economy when it was also disclosed that he had spent more than $1.2 million to redecorate his office, even as his firm struggled for its life.

Thain used the same celebrity decorator, Michael Smith, that the Obama family has retained to decorate the White House. According to Charlie Gasparino, CNBC's on air editor, who broke the story, the money Thain spent in part went for two area rugs ($131,000), two guest chairs ($87,000), a 19th Century credenza ($68,000), four pairs of curtains ($28,000), and a mahogany pedestal table ($25,000).

Also reported to be on the list was a trash can for $1,400.

Thain's attorney said he has agreed to reimburse the company for those charges.

"He agreed to pay back the cost of the furniture a month ago," Derris said. "We have requested in writing the cost of the furniture and will pay it back," Levander added.

Thain, who earned his MBA at Harvard, was named Chairman and CEO of Merrill in November 2007. The following January, the firm announced record-breaking losses of over $8 billion. By April the troubled investment bank had said it would lay off as much as 10 percent of its workforce.

This post has been updated.

Click Here for the Investigative Homepage.

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