Lawmaker faults BofA's response to Merrill inquiry

NEW YORK Mon Sep 21, 2009 1:43pm EDT

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - A congressman accused Bank of America Corp (BAC.N) of meeting his requests for information with volumes of irrelevant documents and has set a Monday deadline for more information, according to a letter obtained by Reuters.

The September 18 letter to Bank of America Chief Executive Ken Lewis from U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Edolphus Towns outlines what the committee considers inadequate disclosure as it investigates possible wrong-doing in the Merrill Lynch merger.

In his letter, Towns said the bank has produced documents that are "clearly irrelevant" to an August 6 request by the committee for all records from September 1, 2008 through January 16, 2009.

A company spokesman said Bank of America is working closely with the committee on the matter, but did not elaborate further.

The letter said that instead of providing documents relevant to the investigation, Bank of America has produced "hundreds of pages of unrelated, extraneous information" including: emails from employees to Ken Lewis about his "performance on 60 Minutes," emails to employees about company discounts at retailers and an invitation to attend an East Asian investment conference, written in Chinese.

Towns also wrote that while Bank of America's executives' personal information, and information relevant to the investigation, was redacted from documents; the bank did not redact sensitive customer information included in the request, like credit card numbers and account numbers.

The committee has requested information relevant to the investigation be disclosed, and the bank must waive attorney-client privilege to do so.

Towns and the House committee are investigating the details surrounding Bank of America's purchase of Merrill Lynch, including the disclosure of pre-merger losses at the investment bank, what funding commitments the federal government made prior to the deal and what legal basis the bank may have had for backing out of the deal.

Bank of America has until noon EDT on Monday to comply with the information request.

A spokeswoman for Towns said "the deadline stands."

The Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank's stock was down 2 percent in late morning trading to $17.27.

(Reporting by Joe Rauch and Rachelle Younglai; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)

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