Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s zest for florid language and sweeping statements against Wall Street “hubris” is great for his image as a crusader on behalf of the little guy. But it might end up hobbling his civil-fraud suit against top executives of Bank of America over the acquisition of Merrill Lynch. Today, former CEO Ken Lewis denied the charges the attorney general filed against him in a fevered 90-page complaint back in February, partly on the grounds that the 90-page suit was, well, kind of bonkers. “Some have looked to assign blame for every aspect of the financial crisis, even where there is no evidence of misconduct,” Lewis said in his rebuttal. “This case is a product of that dynamic.” He went on to say that Cuomo’s version of events is “inconsistent, selectively presented, and often nonsensical.” He has a point.
Cuomo may have gotten a little carried away. Here’s a choice passage from the suit:
“The merger between Merill Lynch and Bank of America has, in many ways, become a classic example of how the modus operandi of our nation’s largest financial institutions led to the near collapse of our financial system…Throughout this episode, the conduct of Bank of America, through its top management, was motivated by self-interest, greed, hubris and a palpable sense that the normal rules of fair play did not apply to them.”
Then again, Cuomo would back up the “palpable” accusation by testifying that he felt the cold caress of Lewis’s greed brush across his cheek during his investigation.