Our favorite bank, Bank Of America, along with our favorite Banking Chief Executive, Kenneth D. Lewis are in the news again and the news is not good for the bank.
We’re hoping the scandals surrounding the banking institution some are calling SKANK of America, will somehow eventually resolve into benefits for the American consumer.
New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has issued a subpoena in his ongoing investigation of Bank Of America Corporation to get the names of Merrill Lynch executives who received $3.6 billion in year-end bonuses.
It seems Chief Executive Ken Lewis failed to provide those details during a lengthy deposition Thursday evening.
Lewis said he “answered the questions that were asked to the best of my knowledge.”
The New York Attorney General is looking into the timing of Merrill Lynch’s bonuses and whether proper disclosure was made to shareholders about the size of the bonuses. Not only were the bonuses granted just before Bank of America’s acquisition of Merrill closed, but just as that bank was seeking additional government aid on top of $25 billion it had already received.
Take note of more “in-your-face-arrogance” on the part of BoA CEO Kenneth Lewis. At a time when bailed-out banks face extreme scrutiny over executives’ use of private corporate aircraft Ken flew to New York on the company’s private jet.
The contemptuousness displayed by Lewis for the American public is an attitude that is part of Bank Of America’s corporate culture. It trickles down into the banking centers and is apparent in the telephone customer service conversations.
A company spokesman says it was due to the timing of the meeting, “…we felt it was necessary to use corporate aircraft.” Really? Is that so? We presume Lewis would be traveling from the corporate headquarters in North Carolina. Are there no commercial flights from Charlotte, North Carolina to New York City? Was it possible to hire an SUV and driver to bring Lewis to New York?
Too bad being prompt for the meeting did not have the same level of priority as giving important details at the meeting. Details we agree should be disclosed.
There are reports that New York’s Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is disappointed and frustrated with the lack of cooperation his investigators are receiving. Obviously Cuomo does not have banking business with Bank Of America. Being uncooperative is something they do very well.
Bank Of America is headquartered in North Carolina. There is no safety in that state from investigation; in fact North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper has demanded information about the bonuses, who received them and how much they got.
Bank of America has repeatedly said Merrill Lynch was an independent company last year, and its board of directors had ultimate approval over how much to pay employees. It has not been publicly disclosed whether Lewis had the authority to stop the bonuses from being issued.
Stay tuned as the thick plottens for one of our favorite banking institutions….