Bank of America Corp. said in court filings Monday that its settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission over disclosure of Merrill Lynch bonuses is a "constructive conclusion to the matter" but that it would have "powerful defenses" against the claims in the case.
The SEC, in a separate filing Monday, also urged a judge to approve the settlement, which it said fairly punished Bank of America for misleading investors about bonuses Merrill Lynch & Co. paid before the bank purchased the firm Jan. 1.
The Charlotte bank agreed this month to a $33 million settlement with the SEC, which alleged it did not properly disclose Merrill's plans to pay bonuses in proxy documents sent to shareholders ahead of the Dec. 5 vote on the takeover. But U.S. District Court Judge Jed Rakoff asked both sides for more information about the agreement before deciding whether to sign off on the settlement.
That put Bank of America in the unusual position of defending its actions during the Merrill merger, while still favoring a settlement that accuses it of wrongdoing. The bank, under the agreement, neither admits nor denies the allegations.
At an Aug. 10 hearing, Rakoff said he wanted to know more about the individuals involved in preparing the proxy that was sent to shareholders. The SEC's complaint names the bank but no individuals.
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