president of Consumer and Small Business Banking–a part of the bank “which has relationships with about 53 million households and small businesses across the United States,” according to a December 16 announcement from the bank.
The bank has had a high-profile search for a successor to Lewis, who had been under fire for issues relating to the Merrill Lynch acquisition, made at the height of the financial crisis last year. Bonus payments to Merrill Lynch employees for a year in which Merrill generated billions in losses and in which Bank of America was a recipient of TARP bailout funding from taxpayers generated controversy. And a settlement with the SEC over allegations that the bank “materially lied to its shareholders in the proxy statement of November 3, 2008,” was rejected on September 14 by Judge Jed S. Rakoff, of the U.S. Southern District Court of New York, who ordered that the case go to trial beginning February 1, 2010.
In house and outside candidates were proposed for the job. “While we considered external candidates,” said Bank of America’s Chairman, Dr. Walter E. Massey, “the Board decided after listening to shareholders, regulators and others that Brian’s experience was commensurate with or better than any of those candidates, and he offered the advantage of a smooth transition.