John Thain yesterday said that spending $1.2m (£859,000) to redecorate his office last year was 'a mistake' but rejected suggestions that he was solely responsible for speeding up bonus payments to Merrill Lynch employees ahead of its sale to Bank of America.

In his first comments since being ousted from the combined group last week, Thain also argued that Merrill had been 'completely transparent' with BofA over the disclosure of a $15bn loss in the fourth quarter. Merrill’s huge losses prompted Ken Lewis, BofA’s chief executive, to ask for government aid to close the deal.

Financial Times