Merrill Writes A Big Check

MERRILL LYNCH AGREED TO PAY $417 MILLION ON JUNE 2 to settle charges over its role in the 1994 bankruptcy of California's affluent Orange County. The financial disaster, which was prompted by a highly leveraged wrong-way bet on interest rates, stands as the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history. The investment bank, which denied wrongdoing, claims it was in its best interest to avoid the uncertainty inherent in going to trial. With this settlement, considered a coup for Orange County, the tally of the county's legal wins is now almost 40% of its original $1.6 billion loss.

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