Lunchtime Links: Maybe Merrill bankers really will have to pay back those bonuses

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Now that Thain's gone the way of his commode on legs, serious questions are being asked about what really happened regarding the early payment of Merrill Lynch bonuses. The Wall Street Journal reports that New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is looking into the matter. "We will certainly examine closely the disturbing reports of what appear to be large, secret, last-minute bonuses," a Cuomo colleague apparently said. Recipients of Merrill's 2008 bonuses may do best to keep them under the mattress for the moment.

John Thain's top 16 outrages (Daily Beast).

John Thain To Get Canned For Having Fabulous Taste? (Dealbreaker)

Thain left for a vacation after the losses came to light, bonus payments at Merrill were accelerated so they could be collected before the end of the year and Mr. Thain had planned to fly this week to Davos, Switzerland, even though Bank of America had signaled that such a trip was not a good idea. (Wall Street Journal)

Bank of America executives were deeply involved in discussions about year- end bonuses for Merrill employees. (Bloomberg)

I have always found Mr Thain to be unusually low-key, modest and amiable for a Wall Street executive. (Financial Times)

Just as Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain was preparing to slash expenses, cut thousands of jobs and exit businesses to fix the ailing securities firm, he was also spending company money on himself. (The Daily Beast)

Merrill's losses down to Thain as well as Stan (CNBC)

Sources tell us that Montag put on the trade that caused Merrill to lose billions in December. (Clusterstock)

John Thain then and now. (Wall Street Journal)

The speed of John Thain's descent from hero to zero is extraordinarily rapid. (Financial Times)

And in other news...

UBS will exit its real estate and securitization and exotic structured products businesses. (Bloomberg)

Nomura aiming for top 5 in European equities. (Financial News)

Morgan Stanley director joins boutique. (Financial News)

Nasty jobs report from JPMorgan predicts UBS will its investment banking headcount by another 1,100 by the end of 2010, Deutsche Bank will cut another 4,000 investment bankers, and Credit Suisse will cut another 200. (Financial News)

Kerviel's "orgasmic pleasure" from successful trades. (The Times)

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