B of A’s Lewis: Actually, Taking Public Money Was A Mistake

March 2, 2009 11:34 a.m.

Ken Lewis, the embattled Bank of America CEO, has told the Financial Times that taking $20 billion of government money to help it digest Merrill Lynch’s losses was a “tactical mistake.”

Lewis told the paper that the move made B of A appear as weak as Citigroup.

He also said that he intended to stay on atop B of A until the firm had paid the government back the $45 billion in total it has received from taxpayers, saying that could happen in 2-3 years.

Lewis has seen calls for his resignation over the mishandled Merrill merger. Merrill’s massive losses in the fourth quarter of 2008 forced B of A to go to the federal government for help. Merrill’s billion-dollar bonus awards, which are currently being probed by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, have not helped the situation. Lewis recently stayed mum when questioned by Cuomo’s investigators about what he knew about the bonuses.

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