"Let's get this one exactly right. We were asked to do it. We did it at great risk to ourselves," he said at the Council on Foreign Relations. "Would I have done Bear Stearns again knowing what I know today? It's real close."
He also suggested that Bank of America should not be responsible for actions taken by Merrill Lynch, the investment firm it took over under similar circumstances.
Frank went on to say that he was not saying that there should be no accountability for actions contributing to the financial crisis, but rather that prosecutors should seek out individuals that committed the wrongdoing rather than the institutions where they worked, especially when those firms have now been absorbed by larger ones at the request of the government. In these "extraordinary cases," regulators and prosecutors should reconsider, Frank contended.
He also added that those banks that purchased firms on their own, without federal urging, should be held responsible for the actions of their acquisitions.
"I am aware of no federal urging that led CEO Ken Lewis of Bank of America to take over Countrywide, and it is entirely appropriate for the bank to be pursued on that account," he said.