Bank of America settles muni bond rigging lawsuit

Reuters

NEW YORK, Dec 4 (Reuters) - Bank of America Corp hasagreed to pay $20 million to settle a lawsuit in which investorsaccused it of rigging bids for municipal securities, courtpapers filed on Wednesday show.

The settlement is part of litigation that began in March2008, and that alleged Bank of America and other banks conspired to artificially fix prices and manipulate markets forso-called municipal derivatives.

Plaintiffs including the City of Baltimore, and the CentralBucks School District and Bucks County Water & Sewer Authorityin Pennsylvania said this activity violated antitrust law, andcaused them to receive lower interest rates than they would havein a competitive marketplace.

In a filing in the U.S. district court in Manhattan, lawyersfor the municipal entities called the settlement "significantand of substantial benefit to the class."

They added that Bank of America faced less liability thanother defendants because it cooperated sooner, including byreporting misconduct to the U.S. Department of Justice.

More than one dozen people have pleaded guilty in theJustice Department probe.

Wednesday's unopposed settlement requires court approval. Itfollows earlier settlements of $44.6 million by JPMorgan Chase &Co, $37 million by Wells Fargo & Co and $6.5million by Morgan Stanley, court papers show.

Bank of America, JPMorgan, Wells Fargo, General Electric Co and UBS AG have settled related claims broughtby various state attorneys general, the papers show.

The total payout for Bank of America is $82.5 million,including the earlier settlement, court papers show.

Bank of America, the second-largest U.S. bank, is based inCharlotte, North Carolina. A spokesman declined to comment.

The case is In re: Municipal Derivatives AntitrustLitigation, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York,No. 08-02516.

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