Ex-Merrill CEO boosts B of A Meeting Drama
The drama leading up to Wednesday's Bank of America meeting continues. Ousted Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain is firing a new round of claims in the scandal over executive bonuses. The latest revelations add fuel to what is already expected to be a contentious shareholder gathering in Charlotte.
In February, Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis testified before Congress that he did not approve $4 billion in bonuses for Merrill Lynch executives prior to acquiring the brokerage. "We had no authority to tell them what to do. . . just urge them what to do," said Lewis.
But this week, former Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain fired back, saying that's simply not true. He told the Wall Street Journal that Bank of America and Lewis were heavily involved in approving the bonuses and points to documents recently made public by the New York Attorney General's office. The document shows bonus payments were part of the merger agreement Ken Lewis signed.
A spokesman for Bank of America says the "merger agreement allows for the bonus payments but does not require it."
The Merrill bonuses are a flashpoint for angry Bank of America shareholders. Many believe Ken Lewis hid information about Merrill Lynch's financial struggles - and the bonuses - in order to get approval for the merger. They've seen their Bank of America stock drop nearly 70 percent since the Merrill Lynch acquisition was announced in September.