North Carolina AG Seeks Information about BoA Bonuses

The attorney general of North Carolina is seeking justification for the bonuses being paid to executives at the Charlotte-based Bank of America (BoA).

According to a Reuters news report, Attorney General Roy Cooper said that, in light of the fact that BoA has received $45 billion of taxpayer money in the last four months, the bank should not be paying out bonuses to its employees. He said the bank must justify why the bonuses, due to be paid to executives Sunday, are being made.

Further, the report said that the attorney general is investigating the timing and scope of 2008 bonuses paid by Merrill Lynch, which was acquired by BoA on January 1.

Bank of America spokesman Scott Silvestri told Reuters that the bank is cooperating with the attorney general and that the bonuses paid to associates, which are down by more than 60% over 2007, are based on the $4 billion the bank made in profit during 2008. Silvestri noted that CEO Kenneth Lewis and other top executives are not receiving bonuses, and executives on the next rung are seeing bonus payouts cut by 80%, Reuters said.

“I am appalled that 2008 bonuses would be distributed, given the current circumstances,” Cooper said in a Feb. 12 letter to the largest U.S. bank, according to Reuters. “I expect an explanation from the board as to the appropriateness of any bonuses while public money is being provided to the bank.”

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is also investigating the Merrill bonuses (see “Probe of Merrill Bonuses Continuesand “Thain Receives Subpoena in Merrill Bonuses Probe).