- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 21, 2009

CHARLOTTE, N.C. | Bank of America Corp.Chief Executive Ken Lewis has received a subpoena from the New York state attorney general’s office in connection with Merrill Lynch’s payment of employee bonuses before the companies combined on Jan. 1.

Former Merrill CEO John Thain, who was subpoenaed last month, was questioned by investigators on Thursday about the bonuses that were paid in late December, just days before Bank of America completed its purchase of New York-based Merrill, according to a person familiar with the investigation. The person requested anonymity.

Bank of America spokesman Robert Stickler on Friday declined to comment directly on the matter, adding: “We do not comment on questions about subpoenas.”

Shares of banks took another pounding amid fears U.S. banks may be nationalized. Shares of the two Wall Street giants, Bank of America and Citigroup Inc., have been under pressure all week as analysts speculated about a possible wave of government ownership in the financial sector.

On Friday, Mr. Lewis found himself defending his bank’s stock price, posting a memo entitled, “Rough week for stock, good week for business,” on the company’s internal Web site.

“Bank of America does not need any further assistance today, and I am confident we will not need any further assistance in the future,” Mr. Lewis said in the memo. “I believe our company has more than enough capital, liquidity and earnings power to make it through this downturn on our own from here on out.”

The memo did not mention the subpoena.

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has been investigating $3.6 billion in bonuses Merrill Lynch & Co. executives received, and whether investors were properly informed about Merrill’s finances. Last week, Mr. Cuomo said in a letter sent to House Financial Services Committee Chairman Rep. Barney Frank that the bonuses were irresponsible.

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