The Federal Reserve didn't advise Bank of America or CEO Ken Lewis "on any questions of disclosure," a spokeswoman for Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said.
Lewis has told New York's attorney general that then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Bernanke pressured him in December not to discuss issues with its pending purchase of Merrill Lynch.
"It has long been the Federal Reserve's view that questions of this nature are best addressed by individual institutions and their legal counsel, as they are in a position to understand clearly their obligations and responsibilities," the spokeswoman, Michelle A. Smith, said.--WSJ
Of course, this doesn't answer the question of whether Bernanke told Paulson to "advise" (e.g. threaten) Lewis,* or if he and Paulson came to that decision together, only that Bernanke himself didn't directly go to Lewis and say "do it and die, pal!"
*Which is what Cuomo's letter claims.
Update: Paulson says he was not acting at the behest of Bernanke when he threatened Lewis, as was previously stated by Cuomo.
Then-U.S. Secretary Henry Paulson was delivering his own message, and not the Federal Reserve's, when he told Bank of America CEO Kenneth Lewis that the bank was in a binding merger contract with Merrill Lynch and Co., a spokesman for Paulson said on Thursday. "Secretary Paulson's words were his own," the spokesman said. "(Fed) Chairman (Ben) Bernanke did not instruct him to indicate any specific action the Fed might take," a spokesman for Paulson said in a statement. New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said on Thursday that Lewis was pressured by Paulson and Bernanke to go through with Bank of America's planned merger with Merrill Lynch.
Is Paulson backtracking or did Cuomo have it wrong all along?