Page last updated at 16:27 GMT, Monday, 22 February 2010

Judge backs Bank of America's Merrill Lynch deal fine

Bank of America billboard in Times Square
Bank of America still faces separate court action

A judge has conditionally approved Bank of America's $150m (£96.9m) settlement with the US financial watchdog linked to its purchase of Merrill Lynch.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) agreed the fine with BoA over civil charges it misled shareholders about Merrill's financial position.

The federal court's approval means a trial will now not happen.

The settlement is almost five times more than a $33m proposal which the judge rejected in September.

'Regrettable'

Earlier this month, New York state officials began separate action against BoA and some of its former bosses.

They are accused of duping investors and taxpayers during the takeover of Merrill Lynch.

The bank, former chief executive Kenneth Lewis and former chief financial officer Joseph Price are accused of intentionally withholding details of huge losses Merrill was suffering.

Bank of America said the charges were "regrettable" and lacked merit.

After the Merrill bail-out, Bank of America received $45bn (£28.5bn) in government funds.

Last month, Bank of America reported a net loss of $194m in the last three months of 2009. That compared with a loss of $1.8bn in the same period a year earlier.

It added that it had repaid the $45bn government bailout money it had received but, taking the impact of this into account, it made a loss of $5.2bn.



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