A New York State judge said he will rule this week on whether to keep confidential the details about individuals who got bonuses at Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. on the eve of its merger with Bank of America Corp. last year.

At a hearing Friday, New York Supreme Court Justice Bernard J. Fried in Manhattan said he will rule on or before March 20 on a request by the Charlotte company to prevent New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo from releasing the names of individuals who got bonuses and how much they made.

Last month, Cuomo's office subpoenaed Bank of America for a list of who got 2008 bonuses at Merrill Lynch. The bank has declined to turn over the names without a confidentiality order in place.

Evan A. Davis, a lawyer for the bank, argued Friday that the bonus list is proprietary data and releasing it would put it at a competitive disadvantage.

Cuomo's office is probing disclosures related to the timing and nature of more than $3.6 billion in bonus payments made shortly before Bank of America's purchase of Merrill Lynch closed last year.

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