SEC and BoA settle US case

A FEDERAL judge has approved a $150m (£96.9m) settlement between the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Bank of America (BoA) over its acquisition of Merrill Lynch.

The fine brings to an end charges that BoA misled shareholders before a vote on the merger with Merill Lynch about the investment bank’s losses and the bonuses it paid out.

US District Judge Jed Rakoff said: “Despite the bank’s somewhat coy refusal to concede the materiality of these nondisclosures, it seems obvious that a prudent bank shareholder, if informed of the aforementioned facts, would have thought twice about approving the merger or might have sought its renegotiation.”

It also calls time on an embarrassing public spat between the nation’s top securities regulator and the largest US bank.

Rakoff, who had previously been critical of the way SEC handled the inquiry said: “While better than nothing, this is half-baked justice at best”.

A trial would have begun on 1 March if the settlement had of been rejected.

“We are pleased that the court has approved the settlement,” said SEC spokesman John Nester.