The nation's nine largest banks benefiting from $125 billion in government emergency aid were asked Tuesday to justify executive bonuses.
Rep. Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, asked the chief executives of the nine banks to provide detailed information about compensation payments to the 10 highest paid employees for the last three years.
"I question the appropriateness of depleting the capital that taxpayers just injected into the banks through the payment of billions of dollars in bonuses, especially after one of the financial industry's worst years on record," wrote Waxman in a letter written to the banks, according to the Washington Post.
Additionally, Waxman asked the banks – Wells Fargo & Co., Bank of America, Bank of New York Mellon, JPMorgan Chase & Co., State Street Corp., Citigroup Inc., Merrill Lynch & Co., Morgan Stanley, and Goldman Sachs Group – for the number of employees who are paid more than $500,000 annually, in addition to total compensation figures for the banks' 10 highest-paid employees, according to Bloomberg News.
"Some experts have suggested that a significant percentage of this compensation could come in year-end bonuses and that the size of the bonuses will be significantly enhanced as a result of the infusion of taxpayer funds," said Waxman, according to the Washington Post.
Despite the historic financial crisis, 36 percent of 1,400 Wall Street professionals surveyed expect a higher bonus this year, according to an online poll conducted by eFinancialCareers.