Champagne corks are no doubt popping in Charlotte, North Carolina today.
It’s never too early for a drink on a day when a federal judge puts an end to a lawsuit that has been an ongoing public embarrassment.
The AP reports:
Today US District Judge Jed Rakoff approved a $150 million settlement between the Securities and Exchange Commission and Bank of America over civil charges accusing the bank of misleading shareholders when it acquired Merrill Lynch.
Rakoff said Monday he approved the pact after the two sides agreed to make changes in their original agreement. He said his approval depends on them formally ratifying the amended agreement by Thursday.
The dispute had been scheduled for trial next week.
The judge last year rejected a $33 million settlement stemming from the early 2009 acquisition, calling it a breach of “justice and morality.”
“This court, while shaking its head, grants the S.E.C.’s motion and approves the proposed consent judgment,” the judge writes in the opinion (according to DealBook.)
DealBook notes that Rakoff made it clear he disagrees with Bank of America’s insistence that it was proper not to make disclosures about losses and bonuses. This disagreement will no doubt be cited by the shareholder lawsuits related to the case, which are formally unaffected by the SEC settlement.
“Despite the bank’s somewhat coy refusal to concede the materiality of these nondisclosures, it seems obvious that a prudent bank shareholder,” the judge writes (according to DealBook), “would have thought twice about approving the merger or might have sought its renegotiation.”
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