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Wall Street Firms Pressured to Forego 2008 Bonuses

CNBC.com
Tuesday, 18 Nov 2008 | 3:25 PM ET

The New York Attorney General's office is negotiating with top Wall Street firms that received federal bailout money to forego executive bonuses this year, sources close to the attorney general told CNBC.

The efforts by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo also may expand to include capping non-executive bonus compensation. In addition, Cuomo has not ruled out trying to recoup previous years' bonuses for top executives, sources said.

The discussions involve firms that have received money under the $700 billion Wall Street bailout fund, known as the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP.

Besides Wall Street financial institutions, Cuomo has also asked insurance giant American International Group to disclose more on its executive compensation. AIG has received billions in government money under the TARP.

Cuomo Targets Exec Compensation
Top executives at Goldman Sachs and UBS renounced their bonuses for 2008, and New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo says that's a start. CNBC's Charlie Gasparino has the details.

Cuomo is currently having discussions with Citigroup , Bank of America , Bank of New York Mellon , JP Morgan Chase , Merrill Lynch , Morgan Stanley , State Street and Wells Fargo .

(Watch the accompanying video for more...)

Goldman Sachs and UBS have already dropped executive bonuses this year.

The negotiations on bonuses follow Cuomo's initial inquiry into compensation at Wall Street firms.

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Efforts to curb bonuses beyond top executives could involve second tier—and possibly third tier—producers for the top firms, sources said. This could include traders, salesmen and bankers who fall below the executive level but still earn the vast majority of their income through yearly bonuses.

And the possibility of recouping bonuses from previous years could involve tens of millions of dollars.

Last year, Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein took home nearly $70 million in bonus compensation, a record for a CEO of publically traded investment bank. His two co-presidents, Gary Cohn and Jon Winkelried reportedly were paid close to $68 million each.

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—CNBC's Mary Thompson contributed to this report.

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