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Bank of America settles lawsuit for $2.4 billion

Sep 29, 2012


WASHINGTON (AP) — Bank of America says it has agreed to pay $2.43 billion to settle a class-action lawsuit related to its acquisition of Merrill Lynch at the height of the financial crisis.

In the lawsuit, shareholders alleged that Bank of America and some of its officers made false or misleading statements about both companies' financial health....

The investors who filed the suit said the amount of the settlement is the largest ever resolving such a claim....

The Countrywide purchase in July 2008 made Bank of America a major player in the U.S. mortgage market. Regulators, meanwhile, portrayed Countrywide's huge size as the result of its executives single-minded pursuit of market dominance, even if it meant taking disastrous risks.

In the legal aftermath, Bank of America entered an $8.4 billion settlement with 12 states over Countrywide's lending practices. A class-action suit by former Countrywide shareholders cost the bank another $600 million. Bank of America has paid out more than $13 billion for investor claims related to mortgages.

Both acquisitions turned out to be "very troublesome" for Bank of America, said Bert Ely, a banking industry consultant based in Alexandria, Va. "They're still cleaning up the mess," Ely said, and likely will have to continue to deal with it for a few more years.

Bank of America's mortgage division hasn't turned an annual profit since 2007.

After years of gobbling up other companies, the bank has been shrinking, laying off employees and selling operations.


It was reported last June that Bank of America has $67 trillion in derivatives. If interest rates go up, Bank of America probably will be among the first to collapse.


This $67 trillion bet comes after Bank of America gave $75 trillion worth of derivatives to the FDIC a year ago.


Potential losses on Bank of America’s massive $75 trillion book of risky derivative contracts has just been dumped onto the FDIC by the Federal Reserve.

Derivatives, once described by Warren Buffet as “financial weapons of mass destruction” are complex contracts entered into for speculation or to hedge risks linked to a wide variety of other (derivative) financial instruments such as currencies, commodities, interest rates, bonds, etc.  In testimony to the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission in March 2011, Buffett warned that the trillions in derivatives held by major banking institutions could be “disruptive to the whole financial system” and that the risks were “virtually unmanageable.”


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Category: News Commentary

Dr. Stephen Jones

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