BofA played role in $4 bln Merrill bonuses - FT

PHILADELPHIA, Jan 25 (Reuters) - Bank of America BAC.N played a role in Merrill Lynch's controversial decision to pay $4 billion in bonuses in December, the Financial Times reported on Sunday.

Bank of America had said the payment of $4 billion in compensation in a fourth quarter in which Merrill suffered $15 billion in losses was sanctioned by John Thain, Merrill’s chief executive.

The FT reported that Thain, who left the firm last week, had at least two conversations with Banc of America’s chief administrative officer, J. Steele Alphin, before a Dec. 8 board meeting at which Merrill’s bonus payments were approved.

Bank of America told the FT there were conversations about the bonus payments prior to the pay-outs.

“We never said we didn’t talk with them about it. But, in the end, it was their decision and they informed us of it,” the company said.

Bank of America could not be immediately reached for comment. (Reporting by Jessica Hall, Editing by Ian Geoghegan) (For more M&A news and our DealZone blog, go to here)