NEW YORK — Bank of America was stunned by the Justice Department’s decision to file two civil lawsuits against it on Tuesday, admitting that it “takes a lot of balls” to sue a bank.
Federal prosecutors accused Bank of America of misleading investors by failing to disclose risks associated with $850 million worth of mortgage bonds that were sold amidst 2008’s financial crisis.
A spokesman for the bank expressed both admiration and confusion in a statement responding to the lawsuits. “Suing a bank is indeed a ballsy move for the government. We think it shows some real initiative, for which the Justice Department deserves a pat on the back. Still, we’re not sure what we’re supposed to do about this. Perhaps they can visit our online FAQ section.”
The lawsuits are the most recent in a string of costly legal disputes for the second-largest U.S. bank, which to date has agreed to pay in excess of $45 billion to settle complaints launched by the 2008 financial crisis.
Bank of America has been accused of contributing to the recent mortgage crisis by pushing employees to hand out loans that former CEO Kenneth Lewis referred to as “toxic waste.” In spite of a growing number of civil suits targeting big banks, few criminal prosecutions have been sought, which has outraged those hit hardest by the financial crisis.
Attorney General Eric Holder called the government’s decision to sue the bank as “the latest step forward in the Justice Department’s ongoing efforts to hold accountable those who engage in fraudulent or irresponsible conduct.”
Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan said that the bank’s legal representatives have gathered to figure out what the government means by the term “hold accountable.”
“Does it have something to do with their credit account? They probably owe us money. $850 million isn’t really worth our time, see. Maybe they can try us again when they’re ready to talk billions.”
Moynihan added, “I think [the government’s] heart is in the right place, but it’s counterintuitive for them to come after us for ‘fraudulent’ conduct. It’s like the police going after Batman for fighting crime. Do you want us to act like a bank or some sissy non-profit? We can’t do both.”
Moynihan said that in spite of the minor inconvenience of being sued, he sympathizes with the Justice Department, and invited Holder to visit a Bank of America branch to explore acquiring a loan in order to stave off sequestration cuts. “As we understand it, the government’s sequester has cost our friends at the Justice Department more than a billion dollars. We’re prepared to put together a nice mortgage package that could buy them some time.”
“If that’s not convenient, perhaps the Justice Department could speak with a virtual banker on our website. Our online application process makes any mortgage a cinch, and they won’t even have to put down their gavels.”