Thursday, February 4, 2010

Ken Lewis from Bank of Amercia... charged today

It's a wonder this ever happened and now that it has, some sliver of justice may come for all the tax payers in this country. And this is just the beginning. Look for more heads to roll very soon.

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said Thursday it was bringing civil charges against senior Bank of America executives, including former company CEO Ken Lewis, for their role in the company's controversial purchase of Merrill Lynch.

Separately, the Securities and Exchange Commission said it had struck a $150 million settlement agreement with BofA over its decision to pay billions of dollars in bonuses to former Merrill employees.

Bank of America's last-minute decision to purchase the ailing Merrill in September 2008 has remained a central issue in the wake of the financial crisis, prompting both federal and state probes into the matter.

Cuomo's office, which has been aggressively pursuing an investigation into the merger and subsequent bonuses paid to former Merrill employees, said it was charging Lewis and Bank of America's former chief financial officer Joe Price with fraud.

The lawsuit contends that the bank's management team understated the losses at Merrill in order to get shareholders to approve the deal, then subsequently overstated the firm's willingness to terminate the merger to regulators weeks later in order to get $20 billion of additional aid from the federal government.

"Bank of America and its officials defrauded the government and the taxpayers at a very difficult and sensitive time," Cuomo said at a press conference Thursday, joined by federal bailout cop Neil Barofsky, whose office aided in the investigation. "I believe that Bank of America officials exploited this fear."