Is Bank of America the DOJ’s Next Target?



Main Street never thought it would see the day. It appears as though the U.S. Department of Justice is finally holding those accountable who had a hand in the late-2000s financial crisis. The big cake that regulators took home this week and last was the pending $13 billion settlement with JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM), America’s largest bank by assets. The settlement, which ostensibly leaves the door open for criminal investigations, is a rare “win” for regulators who have been put under enormous pressure to make heads roll, so to speak.

If the pending settlement with JPMorgan is a $13 billion cake, then the staff of the U.S. Attorney’s office just laid out the recipe for the icing. In a 10-Q filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) revealed that the attorney’s office intends to recommend that the DoJ file a civil action against affiliates of the bank — chiefly, Countrywide Financial, a troubled lender that Bank of America bought for $4 billion in 2008 — related to the securitization of residential mortgage-backed securities.

The lawsuit recommendation is just the latest in a long string of legal suits brought against the bank. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who has been one of the most public faces of the regulatory, still appears set to file a suit related to home loan securitization against Merrill Lynch, a subsidiary of Bank of America.