WASHINGTON The Securities and Exchange Commission issued a finding Monday that the former BankAmerica Corp. improperly accounted for a business relationship with the investment banking firm D.E. Shaw & Co. LP and made misleading filings about the market risks of the relationship.
Without admitting the finding, Bank of America Corp. of Charlotte, N.C., which bought the old BankAmerica and took a variant of its name, entered into a cease-and-desist settlement with the SEC. No fines were imposed, nor did the SEC name any employees responsible.
At issue was a 1997 business partnership with D.E. Shaw, of New York, in which BankAmerica received a portion of the profits generated by securities and derivatives trading that D.E. Shaw conducted on behalf of its customers.
According to the SEC, BankAmerica treated the deal as a loan for financial reporting and accounting purposes. But the commission said in the finding that it had substantially the risk characteristics of an equity investment rather than a loan. It said that the banking company should have used the equity method of accounting and recorded the deal as an investment.
Bank of America Corp. issued a statement reading, While the commission found that the predecessor institution violated certain provisions of the securities laws, it did not find there was any bad faith or that anyone acted in a manner intended to defraud or deceive investors. In the end, this matter was about judgments on accounting and disclosure issues concerning a novel and complex strategic relationship between the predecessor company and D.E. Shaw, and the SEC took issue with those judgments.