Bank Of America's Back Is Against The Wall

A trial looms over charges that it defrauded local governments

After the Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, BankAmerica Corp. founder A.P. Giannini personally lent cash to victims, asking only for a handshake as collateral. Ever since then, the state's largest bank has worked hard to be a model corporate citizen, sponsoring cultural events, boosting minority hiring, and forging close ties with California's political elite. One of the many payoffs has been BofA's role as chief banker for hundreds of cities and counties along the coast.

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