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BofA’s Lewis Asks Judge to Throw Out Cuomo Lawsuit

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Former Bank of America CEO Kenneth Lewis
Kenneth D. Lewis, former chief executive officer of Bank of America Corp. Photographer: Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg

Aug. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Bank of America Corp.’s former Chief Executive Officer Kenneth Lewis asked a judge to throw out the New York attorney general’s lawsuit accusing him of fraud when he led the bank’s purchase of Merrill Lynch & Co.

The allegations by Attorney General Andrew Cuomo are “implausible,” Lewis’s lawyers said in documents filed Aug. 18 with the state Supreme Court in Manhattan. The Merrill Lynch acquisition, they said in the answer to Cuomo’s complaint, has been proven to be of “major financial benefit to shareholders.”

“Some have looked to assign blame for every aspect of the financial crisis, even where there is no evidence of misconduct,” Lewis’s lawyers said. “This case is a product of that dynamic and does not withstand either legal or factual scrutiny.”

Cuomo sued Lewis, Bank of America and former Chief Financial Officer Joe Price in February, accusing them of misleading investors by failing to disclose losses at Merrill Lynch. The complaint also claims they manipulated the federal government into saving the deal with a taxpayer-financed bailout.

Cuomo spokesman Richard Bamberger said in a statement that the attorney general stands by the complaint.

“The recent filings by the defendants, none of whom made a motion to dismiss, do nothing to change this office’s view of the case,” he said.

Colby Smith, a lawyer for Lewis, couldn’t be reached for comment. William Jeffress, a lawyer for Price, declined comment. In the answer, Lewis asked the court to dismiss the complaint and award costs and attorney’s fees.

In a separate court filing on Aug. 18, Bank of America said Cuomo’s claims have no legal basis and are barred. Price, who is now the Bank of America’s head of consumer banking, also asked for a dismissal of the lawsuit.

The case is People of State of New York v. Bank of America, 450115-2010, State Supreme Court (Manhattan).

To contact the reporter on this story: David McLaughlin in New York at dmclaughlin9@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: David E. Rovella at drovella@bloomberg.net.

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