House Oversight postpones hearing into Bank of America, Merrill Lynch deal

House lawmakers postponed a hearing slated for Thursday into a controversial deal struck between Bank of America and Merrill Lynch at the height of the crisis, a congressional aide said late Tuesday.

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is in the process of reviewing a large set of internal documents about the deal that are being released as part of an agreement between Bank of America and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

ADVERTISEMENT
The panel has been investigating the role federal officials played and whether they exerted undue influence on the bank to complete the deal. Committee Chairman Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.), Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the panel’s ranking member, and Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) are leading the investigation.

Bank of America was considering pulling out of the deal last December because of mounting losses at Merrill Lynch. The deal was completed in January 2009, but there have been a range of investigations since.

The House panel on Thursday was slated to hold its fourth hearing about the deal and was scheduled to hear testimony from the SEC, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), former SEC Chairman Chris Cox and executives at Bank of America.

Some of the internal documents, obtained by The Hill on Monday, indicate that Bank of America officials believed that now-Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and President Barack Obama's top economic advisor, Lawrence Summers, agreed to the deal. One of the documents, a set of talking points for the bank's CEO, cautioned that the information was a characterization and reflected a "gist" of a conversation.

Bank of America has received $45 billion in assistance from the government.