Bank of America CEO says banks helped cause financial crisis

RALEIGH — On his first real day as Bank of America's new CEO, Brian Moynihan flew from his home in Boston to speak to business leaders in Raleigh, where he acknowledged his industry had helped to cause the economic crisis and pledged to help end it.

Moynihan also touched on the bank's commitment to the Carolinas, with a short history lesson on the bank's founding in Charlotte in 1874. He drew applause when he told the crowd that Bank of America "has thrived for 135 years as a North Carolina company, and it will continue to do so."

Without singling out his own employer for particular blame, he said, "We as an industry cannot avoid the simple fact that we caused a lot of damage, and we have to help make sure it doesn't happen again."

Moynihan, 50, is a Bank of America veteran who was named last month to lead the bank after Ken Lewis announced he would retire Dec. 31, stepping down amid criticism of his purchase of Merrill Lynch.

Moynihan praised his former boss for his leadership, as well as "his long-standing commitment to the state of North Carolina." And he praised the Merrill deal for giving the bank more ways to serve customers.

Moynihan lives in Boston and hasn't said whether he will move to Charlotte, though he has said the headquarters will remain here. He officially became CEO on Friday, New Year's Day.

His 15-minute speech in Raleigh, at the Progress Energy Performing Arts Center, was part of the annual economic forecast forum held by the N.C. Bankers Association and the N.C. Chamber. Lewis was originally scheduled for the honors.

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