Bonuses paid to executives at nine banks who received U.S. government bailout money in 2008 were in some cases greater than net income, the office of New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said on Thursday.

There is no clear rhyme or reason to the way banks compensate and reward their employees, said a report by Cuomo, New York's top legal officer. Even a cursory examination of the data suggests that in these challenging economic times, compensation for bank employees has become unmoored from the banks' financial performance.

Since nine banks received a total of $125 billion of U.S. government money last October to help them survive the financial crisis, Cuomo has pressed them for details on billions of dollars paid to executives in bonuses even as the banks suffered huge losses.

Much of Cuomo's investigation had been focused on Merrill Lynch, bought by Bank of America but Thursday's report covered all nine banks.

It said bonuses for Goldman Sachs Group Inc , Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan Chase were substantially greater than the banks' net income.

(Reporting by Grant McCool; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)