Cuomo pushes banks for bonus info

By David Ellis, staff writer

NEW YORK ( -- New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo pressed eight of the nation's biggest banks for details on their bonus payment plans Monday, putting Wall Street's pay practices under yet another layer of scrutiny.

Cuomo ordered Citigroup (C, Fortune 500), Goldman Sachs (GS, Fortune 500), JPMorgan Chase (JPM, Fortune 500), State Street, Bank of New York Mellon, Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500), Morgan Stanley (MS, Fortune 500) and Wells Fargo (WFC, Fortune 500) -- the original recipients of federal bailout money -- to submit details on their bonus programs in an effort to see if they had made any progress rooting out some of the destructive pay practices that helped fuel the recent economic crisis.

"We are exploring exactly how banks determined compensation this past year," Cuomo said during a conference call with reporters Monday.

Monday's announcement is the latest effort by New York's top law enforcement officials to shine a harsh light on Wall Street pay practices. Last July, Cuomo's office published a scathing rebuke of banks' 2008 compensation practices, charging that most financial firms paid out compensation that was nowhere close to their overall yearly performance.

To understand the complete picture, Cuomo asked each company to submit details on how they calculated bonuses, how their bonus pool would have been affected had they not received bailout funds and the total value of bonuses awarded in 2009.

Many large lenders are believed to be on track to pay out some of their biggest bonuses since the crisis first erupted nearly three years ago. That has incensed both lawmakers and the American public at a time when millions of workers are out of a job.

Hoping to rein in Wall Street's bonus practices, the Obama administration is considering a fee or tax on the financial industry after taxpayers stepped in to save the industry last fall, according to several media reports. To top of page

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