If the Federal Reserve Board is ultimately cleared of wrongdoing in its involvement with Bank of America Corp.'s purchase of Merrill Lynch, the central bank should still not be given systemic oversight authority, lawmakers told President Obama on Friday.
"Even if an investigation does not yield conclusive evidence of wrongdoing, the allegations should give the administration, Congress and, most importantly, the American people, pause before concentrating extensive new power in the hands of one regulatory entity with little to no direct accountability to the public," 17 lawmakers wrote in a letter dated Friday to the president.
The letter was mostly signed by House Republicans but included three Democrats: Christopher Carney of Pennsylvania; Alan Grayson of Florida and Marcy Kaptur of Ohio.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has held two hearing on BofA's deal for Merrill and whether the government pushed the Charlotte bank too hard to complete the deal. BofA chief executive Ken Lewis told the New York attorney general that then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson threatened to fire him and his board if he did not finish the transaction.
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke told the committee last month that he did not force Lewis to do anything but, in their letter, the lawmakers said "there is a considerable amount of testimony and evidence that calls into question those claims."
The committee will hear testimony from Paulson on Thursday and representatives from the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. are also expected to be called before the panel in the coming weeks.