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Drexel Burnham Lambert Inc. is paying two traders more than $1 million a year and other top executives hundreds of thousands of dollars during the firm's costly bankruptcy proceedings.

Drexel confirmed Monday that 29 senior executives and traders are receiving more than $250,000 a year each. But the firm said the salaries were set early in the case, are necessary to manage its business and are on a par with compensation elsewhere on Wall Street.

A Drexel spokesman, Steven Anreder, said the firm was trying to control expenses for its own benefit and that of creditors, who stand to gain more money in a reorganization if the firm can hold down costs.

The report comes as salaries and compensation fall at major Wall Street firms during an industry-wide recession.

Drexel documents show the firm is paying a total of $35 million to its sharply reduced staff of about 290 employees, or an average of $121,000 a year. Of that, $21.1 million is for 73 officers and $14.05 million for the rest of the staff.

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