The record-setting settlement between Bank of America (BAC), the U.S. Department of Justice, certain federal agencies and six states to resolve claims over toxic residential mortgage-backed securities is still on hold as the bank continues its fight for relief from the Securities and Exchange Commission.
In August, BofA agreed to a $16.65 billion settlement over toxic mortgages, collateralized debt obligations and an origination release on residential mortgage loans sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the run-up to the financial crisis.
Last month, a report surfaced that stated the settlement was “being held up” by an internal fight at the SEC over whether certain additional sanctions should be waived or not.
Now, according to a new report from Bloomberg, the bank is trying a new tact to try to convince the SEC to grant the waivers.
From the Bloomberg report:
In a letter last week, the bank’s top lawyer Gary Lynch made a pitch to the agency’s commissioners to waive additional sanctions set to kick in when the settlement is entered in court, said the people, who asked not to be named because the entreaty was private. Lynch argued in part that the firm is being unfairly treated because other banks had been given waivers in similar cases.
A former SEC enforcement director, Lynch said saddling the bank with a penalty that could include barring it from selling investments in hedge funds would be unprecedented and cause reputational damage, the people said.
According to Bloomberg, there are three main penalties at the core of the SEC fight.
The hold-up is over a waiver that will allow the bank to continue seeking investors for private firms, such as technology companies that have yet to go public and hedge funds, the people said. The SEC’s staff, according to one of the people, has recommended that the commissioners approve the relief.
That waiver was the main focus of Lynch’s letter. He argued that without it the SEC would be harming areas of the bank’s brokerage business that had nothing to do with the misconduct outlined in the SEC case.