BoA to pay $33m fine over Merrill

BANK OF AMERICA (BoA) agreed to pay a $33m (&pound;19.49m) fine yesterday, to settle charges that it made misleading statements to its shareholders over bonuses at Merrill Lynch.<br /><br />US watchdog the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), filed civil fraud charges against BoA over allegations that the bank failed to tell its investors that Merrill paid out $5.8bn in bonuses just before it was taken over by the banking conglomerate at the start of the year.<br /><br />Merrill was in such a perilous financial state when it was taken over that BoA was forced to accept $138bn of additional government loans and guarantees.<br /><br />The SEC said BoA had neither admitted nor denied the allegations, despite agreeing to pay the fine. It added that its investigation was continuing.<br /><br />Announcement of the fine overshadowed the hiring of Sallie Krawcheck &ndash; the most senior woman on Wall Street &ndash; to BoA&rsquo;s global wealth management division. She previously held a similar position at Citigroup.<br /><br />Financial incentives paid out at banks became a hot potato last year when New York attorney general Andrew Cuomo launched an investigation amidst a public outcry.<br /><br />Last week it emerged that $33bn was paid in bonuses at nine US banks, including those which resorted to taxpayer&rsquo;s money to help them survive.