Posted by revolt | BANK OF AMERICA $67M SETTLEMENT | Wednesday 23 February 2011 5:02 pm

FL Attorney General Announces $67 Million National Settlement with Bank of America over Bid-Rigging Scheme

December 8, 2010

TALLAHASSEE, FL – Attorney General Bill McCollum today announced that Bank of America will pay $67 million under a multistate settlement for its involvement in a nationwide scheme to allegedly rig bids and engage in other anticompetitive conduct relating to municipal bond derivatives that defrauded state agencies, local governmental entities and not-for-profit entities.

The multistate settlement is part of a $137 million settlement Bank of America is entering into simultaneously with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Federal Reserve.

The investigation focuses on individuals at Bank of America, other major financial institutions, and certain brokers in connection with the marketing and sale of municipal derivative investments, which are typically investment contracts that government issuers and not-for-profit entities use to reinvest the proceeds of tax-exempt bond offerings until the funds are needed or to hedge against interest rate risk. The transactions are often awarded after a competitive bidding process or negotiated directly between the financial institution and the issuer.

Today’s global settlements are the result of an ongoing criminal and civil investigation involving the state Attorneys General, the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division (DOJ), the SEC, OCC and IRS revealing that from 1998 through 2003, Bank of America and other financial institutions and brokers allegedly rigged bids, improperly assisted in the bidding process and submitted non-competitive “courtesy” bids on these investments. The alleged schemes enriched financial institutions or brokers at the expense of state agencies, local governmental entities, and nonprofit organizations.

Bank of America was the first and only entity in the scheme that voluntarily self-reported the wrong-doing to the DOJ. Under the DOJ’s Corporate Leniency Program, Bank of America was granted conditional leniency based on its acknowledgement of wrongdoing, significant cooperation and making restitution. To date, the DOJ has brought criminal actions against seven individuals and one company and has obtained guilty pleas against eight others involved in the schemes.

The combined settlements will provide restitution to state agencies, local governmental entities, and nonprofit entities both within Florida and throughout the United States who entered into municipal bond derivative investments with Bank of America and were injured by the scheme. Eligible Florida entities will receive a total of approximately $5.2 million under the settlement.

Under the agreement, Bank of America must provide the Attorneys General with written standards of conduct with respect to antitrust and unfair trade practices and provide a copy to employees. Bank of America has represented that it has terminated its illegal conduct, and must also cooperate with the ongoing investigation of the Attorneys General into municipal bond derivatives.

Other states joining Florida in the Bank of America settlement include Alabama, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Texas.

SOURCE: Florida Attorney General


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