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Tuesday, October 20, 2009 10:38 AM

Bernanke Guilty of Coercion and Market Manipulation

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In April in Let the Criminal Indictments Begin: Paulson, Bernanke, Lewis I made the case that BAC chairman Lewis was guilty of fraud and Paulson was guilty of coercion in regards to the shotgun wedding between Bank of America and Merrill Lynch.

The case against Bernanke was weaker because of Bernanke's selective memory. When confronted by Congress with his role in this mess, Bernanke defense was that he did not remember what he said and Paulson called Bank of America a "Turd in the Punchbowl".

Please see Bernanke Suffers From Selective Memory Loss; Paulson Calls Bank of America "Turd in the Punchbowl" for details.

In July, Paulson attempted to defend himself, and in doing so Paulson Admitted Coercion. I asked again "Where are the Indictments?"

Today, I am asking the same thing again.

Please consider Bank of America Told Aid May Help Stock, E-Mail Shows.

Bank of America Corp. signed off on its government-assisted purchase of Merrill Lynch & Co. after U.S. regulators said the deal might boost the shares, e-mails from two executives showed. Instead, the stock collapsed.

“The chairman of the Federal Reserve indicated it would be structured in a manner such that BAC stock should go up when announced,” Chief Financial Officer Joe Price said in a Dec. 29 e-mail to executives of the Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank, including Chief Executive Officer Kenneth D. Lewis.

The e-mails are among more than 1,000 pages of documents sent last week to the House Oversight Committee. Bloomberg News was provided a portion of what the committee received in its investigation of the Merrill acquisition. A hearing is scheduled Oct. 22 at which two Bank of America directors and former General Counsel Timothy Mayopoulos are to appear.

“The strategic wisdom of the Bank of America-Merrill Lynch deal is now obvious to everyone,” bank spokesman Lawrence Di Rita said in an interview. “These documents and e-mails reveal the good faith deliberations among those who understood that first.”

Bank of America provided documents to the committee Oct. 16 after agreeing to forego its right to keep discussions with its lawyers confidential. The bank didn’t make the documents public.

The documents include “talking points” prepared by the bank’s law firm to be used by Lewis for a conversation in late December with Paulson about Merrill’s worsening finances. The memo and Price’s notes suggest the bank consider lowering the price for Merrill if Bank of America couldn’t cancel the transaction. The deal took effect Jan. 1 without any repricing.

Other documents citing internal bank discussions note that incoming Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, then president of the Fed Bank of New York, and incoming National Economic Council Director Lawrence Summers endorsed providing guarantees to Bank of America. Geithner and Summers took office after President Barack Obama was inaugurated on Jan. 20.

Taxpayers ‘Foot Bill’

“The Bank of America-Merrill Lynch merger was the outcome of a collaborative effort orchestrated by Ken Lewis, Henry Paulson, Ben Bernanke, Timothy Geithner and Larry Summers,” said Kurt Bardella, spokesman for U.S. Representative Darrell Issa, ranking Republican member of the panel. “As a result of this collaboration, the taxpayers ended up footing the bill so Bank of America didn’t have to absorb Merrill Lynch’s losses.”
That paragraph above is about all one needs to know. To be fair that is an allegation against Bernanke, not an admission by Bernanke, but perhaps that will jog his selective memory problem.

Bank of America / Merrill Lynch Recap

  • After closer review, Lewis, finally figured out merging with Merrill Lynch was not such a good idea. He threatened to back out of the deal.

  • Paulson threatens to fire Lewis and the entire Bank of America board if they did not go through with the merger. This is coercion in my book.

  • Lewis went ahead with a deal he knew was not in shareholder best interest. This is fraud against shareholders.

  • Paulson called "Bank of America a Turd in the Punchbowl" while BAC Chief Financial Officer Joe Price sends an email to CEO Lewis saying “The chairman of the Federal Reserve indicated it would be structured in a manner such that BAC stock should go up when announced.”

If you are not outraged over this then something is wrong. I repeat what I said all the way back on April 24 "Let the Criminal Indictments Begin: Paulson, Bernanke, Lewis"

Mike "Mish" Shedlock
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