Bank of America has agreed to hand over documents of the legal advice regarding its merger with Merrill Lynch. The new agreement with the Securities and Exchange Commission will also reveal the bank's dealings with the Federal Reserve and Treasury Department during the epic merger, according to the WSJ. This decision comes after a judge rejected a $33 million settlement after the SEC accused the bank of misleading shareholders, and the announced resignation of BofA CEO Ken Lewis. As I've written before, this case has me in a knot.
On the one hand, the evidence seems overwhelming that Bank of American lied to shareholders and that Ken Lewis probably violated his fiduciary responsibility by accepting a merger he thought would hurt the company (numerous pension suits against the company's behavior during the merger are ongoing).
On the other hand, this merger took
place at a crucial time in our economic history. Former Treasury Sec.
Hank Paulson has admitted to essentially blackmailing Lewis to go
through with the deal if he wanted to keep his job. I feel
uncomfortable with the government saying that it was
justified in shoving Merrill down BofA's throat, but that BofA was not
justified in shoving Merrill down its shareholders' throats. Where
exactly does the law begin and end here?