President Barack Obama called Wall Street corporate decisions to pay employees more than $18 billion in bonuses last year 'shameful' and 'the height of irresponsibility' even as the firms receive billions of dollars in bailout money to move beyond the current economic crisis.

Obama made the comments at the Oval Office in the White House on Thursday as he sat next to new Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, according to the Associated Press.

It is shameful, Obama said. And part of what we're going to need is for the folks on Wall Street who are asking for help to show some restraint, and show some discipline, and show some responsibility.

The New York comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said in a report on Wednesday that Wall Street companies paid out $18.4 billion in bonuses to employees last year amid the current economic crisis. It was the sixth-largest annual bonus payout ever. The comptroller said it was unclear if taxpayer money was used for the bonuses, according to Reuters.

We're not going to be able to do what is needed to be done to stabilize our financial situation if the American people read about this type of outrageous behavior, said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, according to Reuters.

He said the President would speak in more detail about the issue with Geithner later Thursday.