Not Much Sleep For Ken Lewis This Weekend After FBI Joins Investigation Of Bank Of America

Tyler Durden's picture

Quoting to an unnamed source, The Charlotte Observer points out that the latest agencies joining the Bank of America/Merrill Bonus SNAFU are the Justice Department and the FBI. In related unconfirmed rumor/speculation, Ambien sales at pharmacies around Ken Lewis' current house(es) go through the roof.

According to the article:

The criminal investigation has been underway for about six months, the
source said. The probe means an additional layer of scrutiny for the
Charlotte-based bank, which bought Merrill on Jan. 1.

The previously disclosed investigations of the bank have appeared to
largely involve civil matters that could lead to financial or
regulatory penalties against the bank, or fines against some of its
leaders.

The FBI involvement opens up the possibility of
criminal charges, although the scope and possible outcome of the probe
remain unclear.

Bank of America spokesman Jim Mahoney declined to confirm whether
the FBI or Justice Department were investigating the bank, but he said
there are "various government agencies that are continuing to look at
the issues associated with Merrill Lynch." He said the agencies extend
beyond the SEC and the New York and N.C. attorneys general.

"We
continue to believe that no action is imminent nor that there is any
basis for any action," Mahoney said of the investigations.

Looks like the SEC will have a tough time getting off the hook on this one. But at least REM sleep at Hank's and the Chairman's abodes will proceed without interruption.

 

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Veteran's picture

He's a Patsy.  Ken Lewis is a douche, but he sure as hell isn't the only one, and BofA ain't the only one either.  Where are the investigations of everyone else?!?

buzzsaw99's picture

The FBI only sniffs where it's told.

Careless Whisper's picture

Are you suggesting that GS or JPM would benefit from this?

Deficient Market's picture

Less competition could never hurt. Now that they've maxed out the market, they need to look for other places to suck blood from

buzzsaw99's picture

I'm suggesting that the FBI will never investigate GS or JPM, the FBI is a lap dog for the banksters. Lewis is a goat.

Pimp Daddy's picture

as soon as the goat publicly acknowledged being "forced" into the deal and hiding losses, he signed his own death warrant. you can't F with them and get away with it. and he thought he was protected. HAHAHAHAHAHA.

chindit13's picture

Can't see that GS or JPM would benefit in any big way from this.  BAC's claim to fame is holding almost 11% of all bank deposits in the US (mostly private individuals) and its lock on California and Florida real estate, as well as construction loans. 

JPM is not about to become everyman's deposit taker nor do I believe Jamie Dimon wants too big a piece of the residential mortgage market.

GS always looked down on the working class Irish of Merrill Lynch, and now that the firm has been gutted of anyone having anything remotely resembling talent, GS would fear them even less.  Contempt might better describe it.  On the other hand, MER might well be a cesspool into which GS has always thrown its waste, so they may have an incentive to keep them alive, kind of like a truly arms length SIV.

BAC was (is) huge in the derivative arena, though that is not something of which one should feel pride or comfort at present.  Don't think anybody wants that from them.

If GS and JPM do want to see BAC die, it is likely to be merely for spite, which come to think of it might be enough of a draw.

ghostfaceinvestah's picture

That's what you get for throwing GS-alum Paulson and general stooge Bernanke under the bus.

Did Lewis ever work for GS?  No, that's what I thought.

monmick's picture

I remember several months ago, when Bernanke appeared before congress and one congresswoman confused him with Paulson (she referred to him as the former CEO of GS)... Bernanke simply chuckled and said that he was the former CEO of the Princeton Economics Department... Pretty funny stuff...

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnPnLvsl6Aw

monmick's picture

Yeah, looks more and more like he will be the fall guy... or at least one of them. What was he thinking, phoquing with Hank and Ben?

Anonymous's picture

Um, didn't they get the memo from Alberto Gonazales? The Justice Department doesn't actually try to solve crimes anymore.

I must say I feel a bit for Lewis. This deal was forced on him. I wouldn't blame him one bit for throwing Paulson and Bernanke right under the bus. "Talk to your own Treasury Department, because this is what they wanted."

Anonymous's picture

Well, maybe the legal system isn't going to complete a retracement to pre-Magna Carta levels. Or, perhaps, this is for display purposes only. It's so hard to tell when so many laws have become optional.

Anonymous's picture

get real. no one else is going to be investigated. Lewis is the patsy.....west coast guy, never worked for goldman, ratted them out to cuomo. its over for ken.

Anonymous's picture

Could we see another midnight trip to the Lubyanka, signed confessions, and a convenient .25 cal hole to the back of the head?

Ned Zeppelin's picture

Behind a car dealership, don't forget.  It's the new fish wrapped in newspaper.

Señor Tranche's picture

So they make Ken Lewis breach his fiduciary duty in the Merrill transaction, and then come after him for doing it?  Fuck Ken Lewis, he deserves to go to jail, but this is not the right way to put him there.

Careless Whisper's picture

I wouldn't say they made Lewis do anything. Seems like he had a handshake deal with Thain over the $5 Billion in bonuses that wasn't disclosed; then of course, the losses, and the threats. He may have thought he was one of the boys, not realizing that unless you're a GS alum, you're never in the club. "If you're at a poker table and you don't see a sucker, it's you."

Miles Kendig's picture

"If you're at a poker table and you don't see a sucker, it's you."

Classic.  Sharks, Otters and Tuna...

Señor Tranche's picture

I think Lewis saw the sucker.  The taxpayers.  The Fed did, in fact, "persuade" him to not MAC the transaction, though.  I think that's pretty clear. 

Why the hell would he pay $50b for the acquisition when he could have just as easily let the market open that Monday and build a huge position while MER took the Lehmanesque nosedive on massive volume that everybody knows it would have if not for BAC's offer?  Could have got the company for 90% less.  The answer is because the Fed was backing him (and by backing, I mean standing behind him with a loaded shotgun).

putbuyer's picture

Time for a POLL. Slap on the wrist vs. Jail

 

I say he skates to his island and eats cake.

Mos's picture

Rakoff, Cuomo, and now the FBI.  Sucks to be Lewis with his $165 mil in pay over the last five years (http://www.forbes.com/lists/2008/12/lead_bestbosses08_Kenneth-D-Lewis_PA...).

Surely no middle class American would want to trade places with him...

Anonymous's picture

Oh, really? Ben is going to set the allowance for Lewis, Dimon, Lord Blankfein, et al?

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125324292666522101.html

Anonymous's picture

Poor Lewis realized too late that the main thing the Ivy League teaches is how to lie, lie, lie. How to make it central to your life and career. How to do it for fun and profit. To make it not something to do as a last resort, but as a first resort, to keep in practice. But when (no longer if) he goes down, when he's got nothing left to protect, he's going to have some interesting stories to tell about this episode. Lots of people probably warming up the discrediting machines now. I wonder if Thain's very recent utter ubiquity is related at all.

Miles Kendig's picture

"Looks like the SEC will have a tough time getting off the hook on this one"

Ha.  The SEC could care less how it looks.  It may will use this investigation as cover in an attempt to seek a continuance so that the separate investigations do not compromise each other before the bar of federal justice. I doubt Judge Rakoff will go for it, but the SEC only did this case for cosmetic reasons to begin with and the foundation is caking up on them.

putbuyer's picture

They are red-faced after the Bernie make-off crap,

so now they want to look like they are doing their

job.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iBTAmZazxuY

Anonymous's picture

THE SKEIN OF MIDLEVEL BANKER DEATHS AND SUICIDES HAS ACCELERATED SHARPLY. IT HAS MOVED FROM EUROPE TO THE UNITED STATES. THESE ARE MIDLEVEL FINANCIAL FIGURES. IT IS A TREND TO WATCH TOWARD A CLIMAX EVENT IN THE GLOBAL MONETARY BREAKDOWN.
On a more sinister yet somber note, banker suicides will be ramping up. Some deaths are murders, well covered up by the police and political authorities. Shed no tears, except for murder victims. The public might not ever be aware of the difference. Rockefeller & Co has $25 billion of assets under administration. Its CEO James McDonald died of an apparent suicide in Massachusetts this week from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Let it be known the elite bankers have lost control. This is just the beginning. Many take the exit stage left in lieu of shameful prosecutions and bankruptcy. A few months ago the head of Bank Julius Baer in Zurich committed suicide. Others will be killed for knowing too much about fraudulent money trails, made to look like suicides. The Freddie Mac Chief Financial Officer death this summer was a clear syndicate murder in my view. We the people might never know which people are victims and which are scummy figures who take their own lives after seeing their power and prestige vanish. See the Bloomberg article (CLICK HERE). See a flow chart on McDonald's tentacled relationship with the financial world

The list goes on. A Newport Beach financier Danny Pang died at a young age of 42 years after being rushed to a local hospital. The Orange County California coroner's office will determine the cause of death. Pang has been accused by the government of operating a Ponzi scheme and of taking at least $83 million in inflated fees, salary and loans from his investment firm before it was seized by federal regulators in April. He had denied wrongdoing. See the LATimes article (CLICK HERE). Financier Finn Casperson was found dead in apparent suicide. The ex-CEO of Beneficial Corp, Casperson was found behind an office building in Westerly Rhode Island, from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. In addition to philanthropic ventures, Casperson was an accomplished equestrian (he rode horses while wearing funny suits). See the Inquisitr article (CLICK HERE). The last story is mixed with politics. Police are investigating the death of the former chief fundraiser for ex-Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. Financier Christopher Kelly told police shortly before he died Saturday that he took an 'overdose of drugs' after a recent surgery. Toxicology results will not be available for some time. Blagojevich blamed the government for Kelly's death. He said to CNN, "I do not know any more than you know, except that a friend of mine took his life because he refused to submit to the pressure by the government to lie about me." Blago knew far too much about Obama's shady past in Chicago, related to Clinton, Arkansas banks, and Fannie Mae frauds, and had to be taken down. See the CNN article (CLICK HERE).

sgt_doom's picture

I strongly suspect the suicide of the Freddie Mac CFO was the real deal.  He was on the up-and-up, simply wasn't aware of the actual financial condition (can you say fraud??) at Freddie, and when he realized all those seemingly innocuous items he'd been convinced to sign off on could come back to haunt him, and realized the endless black hole of Freddie's finances, he took a one-time way out (very sad).

Now, those "suicides" of the ABN Amro CFO fellow in England, along with that young trader on the Deutsche Bank - London branch desk (as "witnessed" by David Langer) are questionable.  (And hadn't that young trader interned for that same CFO at ABN Amro when he attended  Oxford?)

David Langer?  Would he be the son of Marshall Langer, the tax attorney who was one of the original architects of tax havens in Bermuda and the Caymans back in the '60s?

And isn't he the uncle of that guy, Richard or Robert Langer (americans for prosperity) who promoted that teabagging nonsense in America?  Funny how that always works out that way.......

Fish Gone Bad's picture

Here is an apropos quote that Paulson said.  When you are boiling in oil, it doesn't matter what the temperature is.

Lewis is probably locked in his office, drinking heavily and polishing his 357. 

orange juice's picture

I just don't get it, did the SEC not get enough money to properly investigate the case or what?  This sounds more and more like three stooges of finance except larry and moe have managed to pin the tail successfully on curly who is going to eat big c@ck for the next 15 years while he gets shuffled from one secret prison to the next wondering what would have happened had he kept his mouth shut

waterdog's picture

No sleep for any of them. Geithner controls the SEC. He completed the deal with BoA.

Imagine having to depend on Geithner's testimony to save one's butt. Not only is he never on the same page as Bernanke and Paulson, he is usually not on the same planet.

The problem with Geithner is, when you try to coach him about the lie you need him to support, he lies about the lie when it is time to deliver.

I do not understand why Obama did not require Bernanke to answer those famous two questions that have led to the audit of the Fed. Obama could have removed Bernanke at anytime. Obama is Bernanke's boss. Also, why did Obama reappoint Bernanke in September, when he could have waited until December? What was the rush?

MsCreant's picture

Your post just sent me into a daydream/fantasy.

What if he kept Ben in there because he knew this was all going to be coming at Lewis?  In fact it is the plan. Lewis rolls over big and implicates both Paulson and Big Ben. Back room deal with the president, so they go easy on Lewis. Obama does not look like he is not backing his man, other Goldmanites don't come after him.

Obama sets B & P up for a gorgeous kill and a major housekeeping sweep. How else to get rid of the blood sucking leaches but to let them suck so long and hard until they blow themselves up.

A girl can dream, can't she?

 

deadhead's picture

Deviant (could not resist!) you are indeed....

your dream is possible and I really do want to think more about it. 

Once Judge Rakoff shit on the settlement (aka the originally agreed upon deal where Lewis doesn't invoke mac, Paulson/Bernanke agree to cover his ass, Geithner tells the SEC to settle, everyone home clear) the bell could not be unrung.  The NY AG steps in, that ringing bell gets louder and really can't be unrung. Now the FBI........ I could see rahm dreaming this up for obama and it is in fact a great way for Obama to get rid of Bernanke.  If so, Larry Summers would be so excited that he would be spilling those fucking diet cokes all over himself.

 

Howard_Beale's picture

I'm loving the way both you and MsCreant think on this, DH. I have to add, anything to get rid of Ben is worth dreaming about.

deadhead's picture

i may retract my thought about rahm thinking this up.  don't get me wrong, he is probably the most devious little prick inside the beltway.

however, ole larry has the rep of having the most cranial neurons in the room and he wants the Fed job more than a half dozen fresh jelly donuts.....

summers coaches waterboy tim and "tell me what to do" mary schapiro to honor the deal with lewis by the usual sec settlement deal, but convinces them to make it so egregiously light and obvious that any US Dist Court Judge would likely question it. bingo, bell is rung.  larry then gets the message to future NY Gov Cuomo that he has a surefire seat to Albany if he presses an investigation. bingo.  naturally, it would be pretty easy for larry to get the fbi crawling around, which makes this whole fiasco sexy and gets the msm involved. 

i can't see how bernanke can walk away from this impending matter untainted.  bernie sanders in the senate (among others) will have an orgiastic field day skewering bernanke, ron paul will go ballistic with his followers, the HuffPo house of the obama messiah worshippers would do anything to get rid of any wall streeter, and bernanke will become such a liability, that obama will be forced to abandon him. as we are fast approaching the beginning of a new Fed chair term, all that built up hatred for what an asshole summers is will fade aside in the interests of urgency and larry can become fed chairman.  naturally, he will immediately begin QE v.2 as prearranged with rahm and there will be so much new money printed that the dems will coast into the mid terms no matter how bad things are.

Anonymous's picture

Volcker not Summers is calling the shots on this particular playing field. And it's all WWF anyway.

Ned Zeppelin's picture

Brilliant. Truly. Makes sense.  As long as Paulson goes too  - and in your scenario he's just collateral damage. 

deadhead's picture

Ned said: "

Agreed and please connect the simple, factual dots: (1) there is no doubt a crime was committed (the BofA proxy solicitation and intentional and deliberate failure to disclose  = securities fraud) and (2) there was a conspiracy among Lewis, the BofA Board, Paulson and Bernanke to carry it out, i.e., to facilitate it.  Bingo.  Done. Ring the bell. It's not complicated here, gang. Jail time for all.  But Lewis can get complete or partial immunity, or simply plead to a lesser charge.

Will Obama pardon P & B?"

I saw this last nite Ned...this really caught my eye.  I absolutely agree with you and think that this is exactly what happened.  If this plays out, what a shitstorm, particularly on the Bernanke/Fed end.  Agree wholeheartedly on Paulson, particularly given the fact that as the Treasury Secy of the United States, he absolutely let the GS conflict impact his decisions and that is deplorable. 

MsCreant's picture

Nice Job DH! Your connect the dots are just the facts, straight up, no tin hat needed. I am inspired to dream even more. The shit storm of the Bernanke/Fed end of things gets so bad that they really do audit the Fed. To many bells ringing. Is is possible for Cuomo to come at it from a criminal angle and push that cause? That might get you elected president, never mind Govenor.

deadhead's picture

thank you MsCreant...I think Ned's paragraph that I pasted in this thread says it all and is absolutely an elegant summary: I wish I had written it!

sgt doom...i hear you on the derivatives and yes, there is certainly some deadly potential there and clearly that is an action spot.  so is the bac matter and the potential that a former T secy and current (renominated) Fed Chairman might be found to be in an illegal conspiracy with one of the US' largest financial institution.

there are lots (too many) of negative action spots.  as to which one takes priority, i respect all opinions. 

MsCreant's picture

Thanks to Ned for the insight, too.

sgt_doom's picture

DH, you're still wallowing among those thousand points of confusion.  GS, JPM and Morgan Stanley -- leaders of the pack, and arbiters of those neverending securitized derivatives of mass destruction.  That's the real action.

Don Smith's picture

What do you all think of going long SKF at this point?  I know the levered ETF's are primarily day-trading vehicles, but it seems to be the only way to play the potential CRE bomb and bank-stock meltdown without options (which screw you if the market stays up past your expy).

Señor Tranche's picture

If you want to take that position (I wouldn't short the financials at this time), at least short a levered long ETF so you get the gains from any volatility on top of the gain from the directional move. 

Don Smith's picture

Señor:

Thanks for the tip.  I'm not able to short, since I'm looking at a Roth (of course, I could do this in my brokerage account, too, I guess).  How long do you wait to bet against the financials?  I've been loathe to bet against the government and the Fed in this markets, and save for an ass-kicking I took around Easter on an option play the day before Wells announced their remarkably strong 1Q09 earnings (d'oh!), I've been out of this market altogether. 

 

I just can't help but feeling that the CRE time bomb has a short fuse and BB isn't going to be able to hide it.  When does it turn?  When does the Option ARM ex(im)plosion hit with enough force to deflate the HFT-based market? 

It's so palpable. So close, I just can't see how to take advantage.  With SKF at 25, (from a high of 250!), it seems I can just hang on for a year and wait for the big fireworks.  Thoughts on a levered long? Or better timing?

Señor Tranche's picture

Your levered long ETF to short would be UYG (1:1) or FAS (2:1). 

All of your points are logical, but the market isn't.  I don't know when the time to short this market is.  For me defense is the name of the game now.  I've moved into some precious metal positions and I've been buying rolling 3 and 6 month puts on IEF for a while now as inflation insurance.  If you are more worried about deflation, go for some high quality corporate bonds.

As the sayings go:

"The market can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent"

"If you don't know who the idiot at the table is, it's probably you." (I think that "and if the idiot is the government you're screwed anyway" should be added here).

This market is on crack, and there's no knowing when or where it will go.  Your best move may just be to stay on the sidelines. 

Good luck

 

 

Howard_Beale's picture

Don,

CRE would be better played in the SRS, however, I am worried that the hedge funds are continuing to run out all the shorts. Take SPG for example-it just gets squeezed a litte more everyday--$14 more since Sep 3rd (and realize the SRS had a high of $295 and is now at $9). I think the SRS and URE hit dead even before this rally is over--and they are getting closer every day. You think the SKF can't go lower? It can and the daily reset will screw you. You have to understand the leverage on these things-- you simply cannot buy them long term unless the trend has turned down in a meaningful way and then you still have to be on your toes.  If you insist on being short financials, go with the SEF or another non-leveraged short financial ETF. Or if you can trade options (with vol low right now) buy puts out in 2011 on the XLF or find another nonlevered financial ETF. Yes you pay for time but you sure get the leverage and you can just relax, wait it out, and the most you can lose is the premium.

Anonymous's picture

Good points, all. I'm not looking to get in right now, as in Monday, but rather am waiting for "trigger time" and looking for the right play. I know the resets on the 3X ultrashorts can hammer you. I'm also concerned about deterioration of time value in options. It's a tough guess as to the best play to short WFC and BAC and their ilk. I work for USB and feel like we're the only ones honestly reserving and disclosing, and we got our shares hammered for it, but they're coming back. I'm sure that even we have a few surprises in the books, but not anything like the tsunami that is facing Wells. The problem is, I'm terrified the government will proclaim them TBTF and backstop their CRE losses, which is great for Wells, but unfair and punitive to the taxpayer who writes the ultimate check. It's been this type of ridiculous intervention that fueled this whole rally, and I'm not sure I am ready to bet against it until they prove they won't fuck us again.