New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has taken aim at controversial Wall Street bonuses -- asking the nation's eight largest banks to disclose how much they plan to payout in bonuses for 2009.
Cuomo said Monday that he also wants to know how the size of the banks’ bonus pool would have been affected if the banks hadn’t received money from the taxpayer rescue,TARP, doles out by the government at the height of the financial crisis in late 2008.
Banks are bracing for a public outcry over bonuses in light of the industry's bailout and role in the financial meltdown.
In a letter to the banks, Cuomo asks that his office is provided a "detailed accounting regarding executive compensation and your firm for 2009."
This includes "A description of the process by which the bonus pools were or will be allocated and distributed, including any documents reflecting discussion of the allocation and distribution process and the justification thereof," the letter explains.
Bonuses typically comprise the bulk of annual compensation for many working in the financial industry. For top executives, sums can reach seven or even eight-figures.
In Washington, a Congressional commission on Wednesday will begin hearings into causes of the financial crisis, including whether the desire for high pay among top and mid level executives drove risky behavior.
Speakers are expected to include Bank of America Chief Executive Brian Moynihan, Goldman Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein, and JPMorgan Chase & Co Chief Executive Jamie Dimon.
Late last year, Citigroup Inc., Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase and Bank of America moved to repay the billions in federal funds they received under the Troubled Asset Relief Program, a move that helped free them to receive bonuses for 2009.
This isn't the first time Cuomo has sought to get financial institutions to reveal their bonus payouts. He also requested similar information last year from Bank of America and other banks.