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Merrill Reportedly Probed Patrick in Anti-Spitzer Campaign

The retiring No. 2 executive knew a consultant who paid a journalist pitching a Wall Street story.
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The retiring No. 2 executive at

Merrill Lynch


reportedly had his duties curtailed in March while the brokerage was conducting an internal probe into a possible effort to seed a negative news story about Eliot Spitzer.

Thomas Patrick allegedly knew a consultant who made a $75,000 payment to television reporter Bill Kurtis at a time Kurtis was pitching a story about whether the New York attorney general's Wall Street investigation had gone too far,

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The segment was never produced and the probe found no impropriety. Patrick, the former Merrill chief financial officer who engineered the firm's aggressive two-year cost-cutting campaign, announced his retirement to Merrill employees on Wednesday.

Spitzer has asked Merrill for a copy of the internal probe, which was conducted by an outside law firm.

After the probe was completed, Merrill CEO Stanley O'Neal relieved Patrick of oversight of the firm's communications and public affairs. He forced his retirement after Patrick recommended Arshad Zakaria, head of global markets and investment banking, be made the firm's president, against O'Neal's wishes.