Why Did the Bank of America Fire Its GC After Merrill Merger Vote?

Four days after the Bank of America’s shareholders approved a merger with Merrill Lynch, the bank’s general counsel, Timothy Mayopoulos, was suddenly fired and escorted from the building without being permitted to return to his desk, reports the New York Times.

His firing came on the same day that the bank’s board was informed that Merrill Lynch was losing a lot more money than expected, the newspaper says, relying on unidentified sources.

Now, as New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and federal investigators probe whether Bank of America adequately disclosed to its shareholders, prior to the Merrill merger, large losses and big bonuses that were paid to executives at the financial services firm, they are wondering why, exactly, Mayopoulos was fired and whether his dismissal had anything to do with legal advice he gave his employer about the Merrill merger.

Mayopoulos, who is now serving as general counsel at Fannie Mae, told Cuomo’s staff in August that he couldn’t answer the question because of attorney-client privilege, the Times reports. In a letter that made headlines yesterday, Cuomo asked the Bank of America to restrict such claims of privilege and make both inside and outside counsel available to discuss their role in the Merrill merger.

So far, the bank has said no to Cuomo’s privilege waiver request, asserting that it has followed disclosure rules and cooperated extensively with the state and federal investigations.

Earlier coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “N.Y. AG Calls Bank’s Privilege Claims ‘Indiscriminate,’ Seeks Waiver”

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