High risk

In 2007, Blankfein took home his biggest bonus when he was paid $67.9m - but last year, the bank's profit was $1.8bn higher than in 2007.


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This leaves the bank with a justification to pay him even more, The Times reported.

In the fourth quarter Goldman earned $4.95bn, or $8.20 a share, beating market forecasts.

On average, Goldman employees made $498,000 in 2009, up from $317,000 in 2008 but down from $661,490 in 2007.

US politicians are grappling with a return to big bonuses despite public outrage at risk taking factors that led to the world financial crisis.

Separately, reports say American International Group (AIG), is set to pay out about $100m in a new round of bonuses to employees of its Financial Products division, the unit of the company that sold credit default swaps, the risky contracts that caused massive losses for the insurer - leading to a $180bn government bailout.

The New York Times reported that AIG agreed to cut the "retention bonuses" by $20m but will still hand out $100m on Wednesday.

The Washington Post, also quoted people familiar with the negotiations, saying the retention payments are for employees at the division who agreed to accept 10 to 20 per cent less than AIG had initially promised them two years ago. 

In return, they are getting their money more than a month ahead of schedule.

Meanwhile, Bank of America, the largest US bank by assets, will pay investment-banking employees bonuses of about $4.4bn for last year, or an average of $400,000 each.

The Financial Times cited unidentified people as saying that key Bank of America performers in global banking and markets will receive bonuses of up to $5m, while managing directors will get $2.5m to $3m.

Bonus programmes at financial companies have come under close scrutiny after the government began loaning them billions of taxpayer dollars to keep them afloat, and AIG is the largest recipient of bailout money so far.