NY judge cuts media reports from bonuses’ trial

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NEW YORK (AP) — A judge says expert witnesses for Bank of America Corp. cannot use media reports to boost claims that shareholders knew big bonus payments were looming when it bought Merrill Lynch & Co.

Manhattan federal Judge Jed Rakoff said Monday that Bank of America had warned in a proxy statement soliciting approval of the 2008 purchase that shareholders should disregard media reports.

The Securities and Exchange Commission has brought a civil case over billions in bonuses paid at Merrill Lynch. The main charge states the bank falsely implied Merrill was banned from paying year-end bonuses without the bank’s approval.

A trial is scheduled for March.

Last year, Rakoff threw out the bank’s $33 million settlement.

Bank of America did not immediately return a call for comment.