David Mildenberg and Dakin Campbell
Bank of America Corp., the largest U.S. bank by assets, said it wrongly classified as much as $10.7 billion of short-term repurchase and lending transactions as sales from 2007 to 2009 to reduce its end-of-quarter assets.
Bank of America said the inaccuracies aren’t material and “don’t stem from any intentional misstatement of the Corporation’s financial statements and was not related to any fraud or deliberate error,” according to a May 13 letter released yesterday from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
“A $10.7 billion accounting error would be a material event for about 99.9 percent” of U.S. banks, said Cornelius Hurley, director of the Morin Center for Banking and Financial Law at Boston University School of Law. “It’s hard to see how the SEC can accept BofA’s rejoinder as being sufficient.”
SEC spokesman John Nester declined to comment.
The SEC sent letters to finance chiefs at about two dozen firms in March asking whether they employed accounting strategies like those at Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. The bankrupt securities firm was accused of using repurchase agreements called Repo 105s to move assets off its balance sheet to hide leverage, thereby improving its capital ratios.