WASHINGTON — For months, Bank of America has been trying to keep secret its legal conversations at the end of last year about its coming merger with Merrill Lynch. So far, it has succeeded, mainly by arguing that those conversations should remain confidential because they are protected by attorney-client privilege.
But now, the bank is facing questions from a House panel, the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, whose chairman, Representative Edolphus Towns, has told the bank that it cannot use attorney-client privilege when dealing with Congress.
This is interesting for a number of reasons, chief among them is that there are multiple competing interests at issue here, to wit:
The Fed. The FOMC (Bernanke .et.al.) have been implicated in having twisted arms (or worse) during the merger discussions. There was a lot of "I can't recalls" during sworn testimony in Congress.
Geithner. He ran the NY Fed; what was he aware of and what, if any, role did he play? Was his appointment in some way connected to all the BS and games? I have to wonder whether Geithner's appointment was an attempt to shield him from testimony related to all the bailouts and handouts, along with The NY Fed's knowledge of (and perhaps obfuscation or worse) "problems" and "forced resolutions" during this mess. Let's be frank: Do you really believe that Geithner, out of 330 million people in this nation and with his history of tax cheating, was the most-qualified person in the US to head both Treasury and The Internal Revenue Service, or do you believe that he was appointed to the position so that he would have a shield to hide behind in deflecting investigative questions about exactly what happened and who knew what along with when they knew it?
Ken Lewis. He is under attack from all sides, with a lawsuit over the SEC/BAC merger having been dealt a "no dice" answer in court by Judge Rakoff, the NY AG's office on the civil side generally and late last week it was disclosed that the FBI may be looking into criminal issues.
The BAC board. What did they know before they voted for approval, and what did they disclose (or hide)?
Paulson. His immunity as a government official only extends to acts that are within his lawful authority as a Treasury Secretary. If he overstepped that boundary there is potential civil and criminal liability for him in this mess as well.