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BofA’s lawyers are very busy indeed

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Is that seat hot enough for you yet, Mr. Lewis?

The CEO of Bank of America has another legal headache, the Charlotte Observer reports. The Justice Department and the FBI in Charlotte, N.C., are investigating the bank’s star-crossed acquisition of Merrill Lynch. the paper says. The report has few details about the investigation, other than it has been under way for six months:

The FBI involvement opens up the possibility of criminal charges, although the scope and possible outcome of the probe remain unclear.

On top of investigations by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the New York attorney general into disclosures by the bank about Merrill’s bonuses and losses, the criminal inquiry would seem to ramp up the pressure on the bank and its recently revamped board.

The bank has said that there is no basis for charges from any of the investigations against the company or its executives. But it is high time for shareholders, including the U.S. government, to demand that someone currently at the bank — John Thain can no longer be used as a punching bag — be held accountable for the Merrill mess.

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