Bank of America Corp.'s former chief executive, Kenneth D. Lewis, asked a judge to throw out the New York attorney general's lawsuit accusing him of fraud when he led the bank's purchase of Merrill Lynch & Co.
The allegations by Atty. Gen. Andrew Cuomo are implausible, Lewis' lawyers said in documents filed Wednesday with the state Supreme Court in Manhattan. The Merrill Lynch acquisition, they said in the answer to Cuomo's complaint, has proved to be of "major financial benefit to shareholders."
"Some have looked to assign blame for every aspect of the financial crisis, even where there is no evidence of misconduct," Lewis' lawyers said. "This case is a product of that dynamic and does not withstand either legal or factual scrutiny."
Cuomo sued Lewis, Bank of America and former Chief Financial Officer Joe Price in February, accusing them of misleading investors by failing to disclose losses at Merrill Lynch. The complaint also claims that they manipulated the federal government into saving the deal with a taxpayer-financed bailout.
Cuomo spokesman Richard Bamberger said in a statement that the attorney general stood by the complaint.
"The recent filings by the defendants, none of whom made a motion to dismiss, do nothing to change this office's view of the case," he said.
A lawyer for Lewis couldn't be reached for comment, and a lawyer for Price declined to comment. In the answer, Lewis asked the court to dismiss the complaint and award costs and attorney's fees.
In a separate court filing Wednesday, Bank of America said Cuomo's claims had no legal basis and were barred. Price, who is now the Bank of America's head of consumer banking, also asked for a dismissal of the lawsuit.