A judge said he expects to rule by the end of next week on whether the names of top bonus recipients at Merrill Lynch & Co should remain confidential.

Bank of America Corp , which bought Merrill on January 1, contends the information is a trade secret and should not be released because of employees' privacy concerns.

Cuomo's office is investigating $3.6 billion in bonuses paid to Merrill employees just before the Bank of America deal was completed. The attorney general is examining whether the bonuses violated securities laws, and whether Bank of America should have disclosed more about Merrill's troubled condition sooner.

(Reporting by Grant McCool; editing by John Wallace)