Congress, BofA Clash Over Merrill Secrets

Bank insists merger talk protected, Towns issues spill deadline

By Mat Probasco,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 21, 2009 5:40 AM CDT

(Newser) – Bank of America claims it doesn't have to produce details about its decision to merge with Merrill Lynch because the conversations are protected by attorney-client privilege. But the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee begs to differ, reports the New York Times. The showdown peaked last week when Rep. Edolphus Towns gave the bank until noon today to produce documents.

Towns wants to know when Bank of America knew of Merrill's enormous losses last year, when it got a commitment for federal bailout money, and what the bank’s legal advisers said about about having to disclose those developments to shareholders. Bank officials have asked for more time, but Towns stuck to his guns, saying the company was “hiding information.”

House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Edolphus Towns, D-NY, speaks during a committee hearing July 8, in Washington.
House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Edolphus Towns, D-NY, speaks during a committee hearing July 8, in Washington.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
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We appreciate and take very seriously the committee’s important oversight role and have nothing but the strongest intent to work with the committee to help it understand these events. - Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis

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