UPDATE 1-BofA may be next WikiLeaks target; stock falls

Tue Nov 30, 2010 5:12pm EST

* WikiLeaks' Assange said in 2009 group had BofA data

* Assange said Monday will release data from a U.S. bank

* Lawyer for Assange says he is unreachable

* BofA says bank aware of WikiLeaks' claims, seen no proof

* Shares close down 3.2 percent at $10.95 (Adds analyst comment, share price)

CHARLOTTE, N.C., Nov 30 (Reuters) - Bank of America Corp's (BAC.N) shares declined 3 percent on Tuesday amid investor fears the largest U.S. bank by assets may be at the center of WikiLeaks next document release.

On Monday, Julian Assange, founder of the WikiLeaks, said his group plans to release tens of thousands of internal documents from a major U.S. bank early next year, according to an interview posted online by Forbes Magazine.

He declined to identify to Forbes which bank would be the subject of the release, but expected the leak to spawn investigations. [ID:nN29234727]

The statement came just one day after Assange's group released 250,000 U.S. government diplomatic and military documents on Nov. 28, and analysts said the timing spooked investors.

BofA's share price "continues to be driven by sentiment and not hard numbers," said Dick Bove, bank analyst with Rochdale Securities in a research note to clients.

In an Oct. 9, 2009 interview, Assange told Computerworld that the group had obtained five gigabytes of data from a Bank of America executive's hard drive.

"Now how do we present that? It's a difficult problem. We could just dump it all into one giant Zip file, but we know for a fact that has limited impact. To have impact, it needs to be easy for people to dive in and search it and get something out of it," Assange told Computerworld.

(A link to the Computerworld story may be found here: bit.ly/hJnRMe)

Mark Stephens, a London lawyer who represents Assange, said that Assange could not be immediately reached for comment on whether the bank documents he told Forbes about were the same Bank of America documents he talked to Computerworld about just over a year ago.

A Bank of America spokeswoman said the bank is aware of WikiLeaks' claims that it has company data, but said it has not been contacted by the group or seen proof it possesses any of the bank's information.

Bove said in his note to clients that he rates Bank of America's stock as a buy and "considerably undervalued."

Bove said many of the bank's problems from the financial crisis have been sorted through, and once investor fears subside, BofA's share price will rise.

U.S. authorities are conducting an intensive criminal investigation into WikiLeaks release of government documents.

The U.S. State Department said on Tuesday it had cut off a U.S. military computer network from its database of diplomatic cables. [ID:nN30151288]

WikiLeaks says it is a nonprofit organization funded by human rights campaigners, journalists and the general public. Launched in 2006, it promotes the leaking of information to fight government and corporate corruption. [ID:nN28102898]

Previously, WikiLeaks had made public nearly 500,000 classified U.S. files on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. (Reporting by Joe Rauch; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)

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Comments (5)
NEWSTIME2010 wrote:
“What two people know, everybody will know” is an old say.
Should the World Wide News Media contact the Governments every day before they publish the News?
Leaking is a natural part of Diplomacy and communication.
War on Error is Not a Terror, and shall continue!
“Unauthorized Release” what is that?
The entire responsibility will rest on the people who could not keep a secret, secret, and no one else can be blamed.

Nov 30, 2010 5:33pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Militiaman9 wrote:
I hope they go after my bank, Chase, they took over my previous bank Washington Mutual in 08 because WaMu was not too big to fail. Hell I hope they crucify Chase. Money hungry SOBs. WaMU was so cool to bank with. And now we have the New York scum that ripped us off wanting to steal more from us. No more free checking accounts, more and more crap! I hope they catch Chase and crucify them and
all the other banks “too big to fail”. Everywhere the banks prosper and fire departments cut back. Yes we need banks. But I’ve decided in the last two years we don’t need any of the ones that were bailed out. They need to be broken up. It’s been a hundred years since the US gov. went after the monopolies in business but the government in Washington is run by cowards and shills compared to Theodore Roosevelt. What happened to a decent comeuppance. All we get is Republican money grubbers elected to shill for the banks. This country has gone mad. Our economic practices caused the Crash of 08 and our ignorance of geography andhistory will probably cause the First Nuclear War.

Nov 30, 2010 6:26pm EST  --  Report as abuse
BoA is not the focus of the next WikiLeaks release. It’s J. Edgar Hoover and Mr. Winky. http://bit.ly/ah1IiQ

Nov 30, 2010 9:32pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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