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October 14, 2009

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Bank of America set to reveal Merrill papers

AFTER months of resistance, Bank of America Corp plans to turn over documents showing legal advice it received on its purchase of Merrill Lynch & Co to the office of the New York attorney general, according to a person familiar with the matter.

BofA's board decided last Friday that it would waive its attorney-client privilege and hand over the papers, the person said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's office is seeking to determine whether BofA misled shareholders about US$3.6 billion in bonuses paid to Merrill employees and the investment bank's mortgage lending losses, as well as whether BofA failed to tell shareholders that it considered backing out of the deal before it closed on January 1.

The attorney general's office has questioned whether the bank knowingly hid details about the acquisition from shareholders ahead of a vote to approve the deal.

Thus far, the bank had declined to provide details on legal advice it received on its disclosures to shareholders.

But in a letter to Cuomo obtained by The Associated Press, Bank of America said following a "very constructive" meeting between the bank and the attorney general's office, it "reconsidered its position" with regard to waiving privilege, "in the hope of furthering a resolution."

A spokesman for BofA could not be reached for comment late on Monday.

BofA agreed to acquire Merrill Lynch in a hastily arranged deal in September 2008.


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