Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. employees who received $3.6 billion in bonuses in December may be publicly identified as part of New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's probe of the company, a judge ruled Wednesday.

New York Attorney State Supreme Court Justice Bernard Fried in Manhattan rejected an argument by Bank of America Corp., which bought Merrill on Jan. 1, that compensation information was a trade secret. He also said employees can have no reasonable expectation of privacy in the information when they are free to share it.

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