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Okay, Then!

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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?


No One Told Ken Lewis Shareholders Needed To Know About Merrill's Massive Losses, Okay?

Remember in 2008, when Ken Lewis was all, “Oooh, wait, I don’t know about this Merrill Lynch thing, it looks kinda bad, I don’t think I want to buy it anymore, I’m nervous [bites nails, shifts weight from one foot to the other like he has to pee]” and tried to back out of the deal? And Hank Paulson threatened to stuff him in a meat locker if he did so Lewis said okay, fine, I’ll buy it and then did, without mentioning anything to shareholders about Merrill's impending losses? Well 1) People are still upset about it but 2) Ken was under the impression shareholders were on a need to know basis. Top executives at Bank of America Corp did not tell shareholders just prior to a 2008 vote on its purchase of Merrill Lynch & Co that losses were mounting and expected to weigh down earnings for years, papers filed in private shareholder litigation show. But the bank and former Chief Executive Kenneth Lewis said in their own court papers that they should not be liable to shareholders who claimed to have lacked information they needed to vote on the once $50 billion merger. Lewis also said he had been advised by the bank's law firm and chief financial officer that no disclosure was necessary. No further questions. BofA masked Merrill loss before 2008 vote: filings [Reuters]