By Mail Foreign Service
U.S. banks paid out $32.6 billion in bonuses as government spent $175 billion bailing them out
Citigroup, Merrill Lynch and seven other American banks banks paid more than $32.6 billion in bonuses in 2008 while receiving $175 billion in taxpayer funds, according to New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.
Crippled Wall Street giant and major City employer Merrill Lynch led the way by paying 14 of its bankers more than $10 million (£6 million) last year despite racking up losses of nearly $28 billion.
Some 53 high-flyers at Merrill trousered more than $5 million as it paid a total of $3.6 billion in bonuses to its 59,000 staff worldwide, including thousands in London.
The lavish payments, mirrored at banks across Wall Street and the City, came after Merrill lost $27.6 billion last year and was forced into the hands of Bank of America in an emergency takeover to save it from collapse.
The figures emerged today in a hardhitting report into the ‘heads I win, tails you lose’ bank bonus culture by New York attorney general Andrew Cuomo.
Cuomo found that banks bailed out by the US government to the tune of $175 billion still paid 4793 bankers and brokers more than $1 million each last year in bonuses.
‘When the banks did well, their employees were paid well. When the banks did poorly, their employees were paid well. And when the banks did very poorly, they were bailed out by taxpayers and their employees were still paid well,’ said Cuomo.
Citigroup and Merrill lynch together lost $54 billion last year, paid out $9 billion in bonuses and got government bailouts totalling $55 billion under the Troubled Asset relief programme.
At Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and JpMorgan Chase, bonus payments exceeded income. The three firms combined earned $9.6 billion, paid bonuses of nearly $18 billion, and received taxpayer funding of $25 billion.
Goldman Sachs paid 953 of its 30,000 staff bonuses of over $1 million and 212 high-flyers trousered over $3 million.
Only JP Morgan made more millionaires but that was out of a staff pool of 225,000. JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley paid 10 executives at least $10 million each while Goldman handed six staff more than $10 million.