Bank of America's troubles won't be ended by SEC deal

Bank of America shareholders probably won't get rich off any settlement the bank makes with the Securities and Exchange Commission, but they might get some ammunition for future lawsuits.

New York judge Jed Rakoff is expected to rule this week on whether the Charlotte bank can settle with the SEC for $150 million or must go to trial. The bank and the agency have been arguing for months over whether Bank of America properly disclosed billions of dollars of bonuses rushed out to Merrill Lynch employees in late 2008.

It's likely the judge still has concerns about the settlement, which doesn't specify where the money would come from and doesn't charge any individual bank executives.

"If you think this is over, you're kidding yourself," said Anthony Sabino, a lawyer at Sabino & Sabino in New York.

Even so, the reality of how the SEC operates may influence Rakoff to close the door on this case. After all, it's still harsher on the bank than the original proposal.

"Rakoff recognizes that the SEC has a lot on its plate," said Elizabeth Nowicki, a former SEC attorney now teaching at Boston University. "And sometimes the SEC needs to take the best settlement it can get in a reasonable amount of time as opposed to the best settlement in the world."

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