NEARLY 5,000 bankers at the top nine US lenders were paid bonuses of more than $1m in 2008, despite their employers receiving $175bn (&pound;106bn) in taxpayer-backed bailout funds, it was revealed yesterday.<br /><br />New York attorney general Andrew Cuomo found that&nbsp; staff at the banks, all of which received funds via the Troubled Asset Relief Programme (Tarp), were awarded a total of $32.6bn in 2008.<br /><br />In a report entitled &ldquo;The &lsquo;heads I win, tails you lose&rsquo; bank bonus culture&rdquo;, Cuomo said there was &ldquo;no clear rhyme or reason to the way banks compensate and reward employees&rdquo;.<br /><br />Wall Street giants Citigroup and Merrill Lynch paid out nearly $9bn in bonuses between them, despite suffering combined losses of $54bn and taking state aid totalling $55bn.<br /><br />At JPMorgan Chase, which took $25bn in Tarp funding, an astonishing 1,626 of the company&rsquo;s 225,000-strong workforce received bonuses of more than $1m.<br /><br />The top four recipients alone were awarded $74.8m, with the total bonus pool reaching $8.69bn, $5.9bn of which was paid in cash. Ten bankers received bonuses of $10m or more, 29 made $8m, 84 received $5m, 130 made $4m and over 200 received bonuses of $3m or more.<br /><br />Goldman Sachs, which took $10bn from Tarp, paid six employees more than $10m, 21 took home more than $8m, 78 made $5m or more and 95 grabbed a bonus of more than $4m.<br /><br />Merrill Lynch, which was bought in a $50bn deal by Bank of America at the end of last year, was one of the most extravagant with its top earners, doling out $121m to its four highest-paid employees. Fourteen bankers earned a bonus of more than $10m, while 20 received $8m or more and 53 were handed at least $5m.<br /><br />Merrill&rsquo;s new parent company Bank of America was less generous, awarding its four top executives $64.01m. Four individuals received bonuses of $10m or more, 8 of $8m, 10 of $5m or more, 28 of $3m or more, and 65 of $2m or more.<br /><br />Citigroup however, which received the largest Tarp injection of $45bn, paid bonuses of more than $1m to 124 employees, with three individuals handed more than $10m, 13 given more than $8m and a further 44 awarded more than $5m.<br /><br />Morgan Stanley handed out the largest pay packets&nbsp; as a percentage of revenue, allocating 72 per cent of its second-quarter revenue in 2009 to compensation.<br /><br />The bank put aside $3.9bn for compensation for the quarter, during&nbsp; which it booked net revenues of $5.4bn.<br /><br />In a document accompanying the data, Cuomo said: &ldquo;Even a cursory examination of the data suggests that in these challenging economic times, compensation for bank employees has become unmoored from the banks&rsquo; financial performance&rdquo;.<br /><br />Cuomo singled out comments from one senior executive, who suggested that &ldquo;employees should share in the upside when overall performance is strong and they should all share in the downside when overall performance is weak.&rdquo;