Paulson holds his ground

<div>HANK Paulson, the former US Treasury Secretary, defended his role in pressuring Bank of America (BofA) executives to complete the takeover of Merrill Lynch that saved the investment bank.<br /><br />In a second gruelling&nbsp;day at a hearing over the deal Paulson once again stood firm, stating that allowing BofA to back out of the takeover would have been &ldquo;unthinkable&rdquo;.<br /><br />He said his threats to sack BofA chief executive Ken Lewis&nbsp;if&nbsp;he&nbsp;failed to do the deal were &ldquo;appropriate&rdquo;. He said if the bank had pulled out&nbsp;of the deal, that would have threatened the whole financial system.<br /><br />And he insisted he never attempted to persuade Lewis to keep details of Merrill&rsquo;s losses secret.&nbsp;&ldquo;I never, ever suggested to him that he delay any disclosure,&rdquo; Paulson said.<br /><br />But Indiana Republican Dan Burton said: &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t think anyone is buying what you are saying.&rdquo;</div>