BofA Responds to SEC Charges

Bank of America Corp has formally denied U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) claims accusing it of misleading shareholders about bonuses paid to Merrill Lynch & Co employees before the companies' January merger.

Additionally, the bank in a Friday filing, said it is seeking an order dismissing the regulator’s complaint.  The filing comes less than two weeks after U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff rejected its $33 million settlement with the SEC over the $3.6 billion of bonus awards (see “It’s a No-Go for BofA Settlement with SEC“).

According to Reuters, in its answer to the SEC’s complaint (see “SEC Plans Deeper Probe of BofA-Merrill Merger“), Bank of America maintained that the proxy statement for the merger did not contain false or misleading statements, or omit key facts. It also said it was not negligent in preparing the proxy statement.

According to the SEC’s complaint, Bank of America said in the November proxy statement that Merrill agreed not to pay year-end bonuses before the acquisition closed without the bank’s consent, when the bank had said Merrill could pay as much as $5.8 billion in bonuses.

The trial is scheduled for March 1, postponed from February 1.

The case is Securities and Exchange Commission v. Bank of America Corp., 09-cv-06829, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).