NEW YORK Dec 4 Bank of America Corp has
agreed to pay $20 million to settle a lawsuit in which investors
accused it of rigging bids for municipal securities, court
papers filed on Wednesday show.
The settlement is part of litigation that began in March
2008, and that alleged Bank of America and other banks
conspired to artificially fix prices and manipulate markets for
so-called municipal derivatives.
Plaintiffs including the City of Baltimore, and the Central
Bucks School District and Bucks County Water & Sewer Authority
in Pennsylvania said this activity violated antitrust law, and
caused them to receive lower interest rates than they would have
in a competitive marketplace.
In a filing in the U.S. district court in Manhattan, lawyers
for the municipal entities called the settlement "significant
and of substantial benefit to the class."
They added that Bank of America faced less liability than
other defendants because it cooperated sooner, including by
reporting misconduct to the U.S. Department of Justice.
More than one dozen people have pleaded guilty in the
Justice Department probe.
Wednesday's unopposed settlement requires court approval. It
follows earlier settlements of $44.6 million by JPMorgan Chase &
Co, $37 million by Wells Fargo & Co and $6.5
million by Morgan Stanley, court papers show.
Bank of America, JPMorgan, Wells Fargo, General Electric Co
and UBS AG have settled related claims brought
by various state attorneys general, the papers show.
The total payout for Bank of America is $82.5 million,
including the earlier settlement, court papers show.
Bank of America, the second-largest U.S. bank, is based in
Charlotte, North Carolina. A spokesman declined to comment.
The case is In re: Municipal Derivatives Antitrust
Litigation, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York,