Why didn't Ken Lewis tell Bank of America shareholders that the company they were acquiring was set to report an imperial asston of losses for the fourth quarter, information that would've been more useful to them before the deal went through, rather than after? 'Cause Paulson and Bernanke shoved him in the trunk of a Buick, took him to an undisclosed location and suggested in no uncertain terms he keep his trap shut, that's why! According to testimony from the Bank of America CEO's February sit down with Andrew Cuomo, Lewis was "urged to keep quiet while the two sides negotiated government funding to help BofA absorb Merrill and its huge losses," apparently for the good of the financial system and the country, and since he *is* head of America's Bank, K the the L felt urged to comply (plus the bit about harm to his body if he failed to do so).
Q: Were you instructed not to tell your shareholders what the transaction was going to be?
A: I was instructed that 'We do not want a public disclosure.'
Q: Who said that to you?
Q: Had it been up to you would you [have] made the disclosure?
A: It wasn't up to me.
Q: Had it been up to you.
A: It wasn't.
Oh, and there was also the matter of Paulson threatening to take Lewis out (of office) if he didn't do exactly as he was told.
During his testimony, Mr. Lewis described a conversation with Mr. Paulson in which the Treasury secretary made it clear that Mr. Lewis's own job was at stake. Mr. Lewis still was considering invoking his legal right to terminate the Merrill deal. Mr. Paulson was out on a bike ride when Mr. Lewis phoned to discuss the matter, according to the transcript.
"I can't recall if he said, 'We would remove the board and management if you called it [off]' or if he said 'we would do it if you intended to.' I don't remember which one it was," Mr. Lewis said. "I said, 'Hank, let's de-escalate this for a while. Let me talk to our board.' "
For his part, The Hammer is going with the story that Lewis "may have misinterpreted some remarks about the Treasury's disclosure obligations as referring to BofA's obligations."
Question to all the BAC shareholders up in this piece-- does this little revelation make you want to bound and gag Lewis more or less? On the one hand, he lied to you. On the other, he (believed he) had to lie to you. And for the general audience-- under/over on when Paulson rips KL's eyeballs out of their sockets and skull-fucks him to death, while Bank of Amerillwide receptionist Angelo Mozilo watches in horror? And finally-- how big is the grin on John Thain's face this morning? Sorta big or, like, shit-eating big?