The eastern portion of the Bank of America franchise can be traced to 1784, when Massachusetts Bank was chartered, the first federally chartered joint-stock owned bank in the United States and only the second bank to receive a charter in the United States. This bank became FleetBoston, with which Bank of America merged in 2004. In 1874, Commercial National Bank was founded in Charlotte. That bank merged with American Trust Company in 1958 to form American Commercial Bank. Two years later it became North Carolina National Bank when it merged with Security National Bank of Greensboro. In 1991, it merged with C&S/Sovran Corporation of Atlanta and Norfolk to form NationsBank.
One branch of its history stretches back to Bank of Italy, founded by Amadeo Pietro Giannini in 1904, which provided various banking options to Italian immigrants who faced service discrimination. Originally headquartered in San Francisco, California, Giannini acquired Banca d'America e d'Italia (Bank of America and Italy) in 1922. The passage of landmark federal banking legislation facilitated a rapid growth in the 1950s, quickly establishing a prominent market share. After suffering a significant loss after the 1998 Russian bond default, BankAmerica, as it was then known, was acquired by the Charlotte-based NationsBank for US$62 billion. Following what was then the largest bank acquisition in history, the Bank of America Corporation was founded. Through a series of mergers and acquisitions, it built upon its commercial banking business by establishing Merrill Lynch for wealth management and Bank of America Merrill Lynch for investment banking in 2008 and 2009, respectively (since renamed BofA Securities).
From a naming perspective, the history of Bank of America dates back to October 17, 1904, when Amadeo Pietro Giannini founded the Bank of Italy in San Francisco. In 1922, Bank of America, Los Angeles was established with Giannini as a minority investor. The two banks merged in 1928 and consolidated with other bank holdings to create what would become the largest banking institution in the country. In 1986, Deutsche Bank AG acquired 100% of Banca d'America e d'Italia, a bank established in Naples, Italy, in 1917 following the name-change of Banca dell'Italia Meridionale with the latter established in 1918. In 1918, another corporation, Bancitaly Corporation, was organized by A. P. Giannini, the largest stockholder of which was Stockholders Auxiliary Corporation. This company acquired the stocks of various banks located in New York City and certain foreign countries. In 1918, the Bank opened a Delegation in New York in order to follow American political, economic and financial affairs more closely. In 1928, Giannini merged his bank with Bank of America, Los Angeles, headed by Orra E. Monnette. Bank of Italy was renamed on November 3, 1930, to Bank of America National Trust and Savings Association, which was the only such designated bank in the United States at that time. Giannini and Monnette headed the resulting company, serving as co-chairs.
Giannini introduced branch banking shortly after 1909 legislation in California allowed for branch banking in the state, establishing the bank's first branch outside San Francisco in 1909 in San Jose. By 1929 the bank had 453 banking offices in California with aggregate resources of over US$1.4 billion. There is a replica of the 1909 Bank of Italy branch bank in History Park in San Jose, and the 1925 Bank of Italy Building is an important downtown landmark. Giannini sought to build a national bank, expanding into most of the western states as well as into the insurance industry, under the aegis of his holding company, Transamerica Corporation. In 1953 regulators succeeded in forcing the separation of Transamerica Corporation and Bank of America under the Clayton Antitrust Act. The passage of the Bank Holding Company Act of 1956 prohibited banks from owning non-banking subsidiaries such as insurance companies. Bank of America and Transamerica were separated, with the latter company continuing in the insurance sector. However, federal banking regulators prohibited Bank of America's interstate banking activity, and Bank of America's domestic banks outside California were forced into a separate company that eventually became First Interstate Bancorp, later acquired by Wells Fargo and Company in 1996. Only in the 1980s, with a change in federal banking legislation and regulation, could Bank of America again expand its domestic consumer banking activity outside California.
The central portion of the franchise dates to 1910, when Commercial National Bank and Continental National Bank of Chicago merged in 1910 to form Continental & Commercial National Bank, which evolved into Continental Illinois National Bank & Trust.
The Bank of America name first appeared in 1923, with the formation of Bank of America, Los Angeles. In 1928, it was acquired by Bank of Italy of San Francisco, which took the Bank of America name two years later.
While NationsBank was the nominal survivor, the merged bank took the better-known name of Bank of America. Hence, the holding company was renamed Bank of America Corporation, while NationsBank, N.A. merged with Bank of America NT&SA to form Bank of America, N.A. as the remaining legal bank entity. The combined bank operates under Federal Charter 13044, which was granted to Giannini's Bank of Italy on March 1, 1927. However, the merged company was and still is headquartered in Charlotte, and retains NationsBank's pre-1998 stock price history. All U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings before 1998 are listed under NationsBank, not Bank of America. NationsBank president, chairman, and CEO Hugh McColl, took on the same roles with the merged company.
The Bank of America Building (Providence) opened in 1928 as the Industrial Trust Building and remains the tallest building in Rhode Island. Through a number of mergers it was later known as the Industrial National Bank building and the Fleet Bank building. The building was leased by Bank of America from 2004 to 2012 and has been vacant since March 2013. The building is commonly known as the Superman Building based on a popular belief that it was the model for the Daily Planet building in the Superman comic books.
Prior to the transaction, BankBoston's Brazilian operations included asset management, private banking, a credit card portfolio, and small, middle-market, and large corporate segments. It had 66 branches and 203,000 clients in Brazil. BankBoston in Chile had 44 branches and 58,000 clients and in Uruguay, it had 15 branches. In addition, there was a credit card company, OCA, in Uruguay, which had 23 branches. BankBoston N.A. in Uruguay, together with OCA, jointly served 372,000 clients. While the BankBoston name and trademarks were not part of the transaction, as part of the sale agreement, they cannot be used by Bank of America in Brazil, Chile or Uruguay following the transactions. Hence, the BankBoston name has disappeared from Brazil, Chile and Uruguay. The Itaú stock received by Bank of America in the transactions has allowed Bank of America's stake in Itaú to reach 11.51%. Banco de Boston de Brazil had been founded in 1947.
New technologies also allowed the direct linking of credit cards with individual bank accounts. In 1958, the bank introduced the BankAmericard, which changed its name to Visa in 1977. A coalition of regional bankcard associations introduced Interbank in 1966 to compete with BankAmericard. Interbank became Master Charge in 1966 and then MasterCard in 1979.
Bank of America expanded outside California in 1983, with its acquisition, orchestrated in part by Stephen McLin, of Seafirst Corporation of Seattle, Washington, and its wholly owned banking subsidiary, Seattle-First National Bank. Seafirst was at risk of seizure by the federal government after becoming insolvent due to a series of bad loans to the oil industry. BankAmerica continued to operate its new subsidiary as Seafirst rather than Bank of America until the 1998 merger with NationsBank.
TC Energy Center in Houston, Texas, was previously known as Bank of America Center until Bank of America ended its tenancy in the building in June 2019. Designed in the postmodern architecture style by renowned architect Philip Johnson, the building has been one of the most iconic and recognizable landmarks of the downtown Houston skyline since it was completed in 1983.
BankAmerica experienced huge losses in 1986 and 1987 due to the placement of a series of bad loans in the Third World, particularly in Latin America. The company fired its CEO, Sam Armacost in 1986. Though Armacost blamed the problems on his predecessor, A.W. (Tom) Clausen, Clausen was appointed to replace Armacost. The losses resulted in a huge decline of BankAmerica stock, making it vulnerable to a hostile takeover. First Interstate Bancorp of Los Angeles (which had originated from banks once owned by BankAmerica), launched such a bid in the fall of 1986, although BankAmerica rebuffed it, mostly by selling operations. It sold its FinanceAmerica subsidiary to Chrysler and the brokerage firm Charles Schwab and Co. back to Mr. Schwab. It also sold Bank of America and Italy to Deutsche Bank. By the time of the 1987 stock-market crash, BankAmerica's share price had fallen to $8, but by 1992 it had rebounded mightily to become one of the biggest gainers of that half-decade.
BankAmerica's next big acquisition came in 1992. The company acquired Security Pacific Corporation and its subsidiary Security Pacific National Bank in California and other banks in Arizona, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington, which Security Pacific had acquired in a series of acquisitions in the late 1980s. This represented, at the time, the largest bank acquisition in history. Federal regulators, however, forced the sale of roughly half of Security Pacific's Washington subsidiary, the former Rainier Bank, as the combination of Seafirst and Security Pacific Washington would have given BankAmerica too large a share of the market in that state. The Washington branches were divided and sold to West One Bancorp (now U.S. Bancorp) and KeyBank. Later that year, BankAmerica expanded into Nevada by acquiring Valley Bank of Nevada.
The Bank of America principal executive offices are located in the Bank of America Corporate Center, Charlotte, North Carolina. The skyscraper is located at 100 North Tryon Street, and stands at 871 ft (265 m), having been completed in 1992.
In 1994 BankAmerica acquired the Continental Illinois National Bank and Trust Co. of Chicago. At the time, no bank possessed the resources to bail out Continental, so the federal government operated the bank for nearly a decade. Illinois then regulated branch banking extremely heavily, so Bank of America Illinois was a single-unit bank until the 21st century. BankAmerica moved its national lending department to Chicago in an effort to establish a financial beachhead in the region.
On September 14, 2007, Bank of America won approval from the Federal Reserve to acquire LaSalle Bank Corporation from ABN AMRO for $21 billion. With this purchase, Bank of America possessed $1.7 trillion in assets. A Dutch court blocked the sale until it was later approved in July. The acquisition was completed on October 1, 2007. Many of LaSalle's branches and offices had already taken over smaller regional banks within the previous decade, such as Lansing and Detroit-based Michigan National Bank. The acquisition also included the Chicago Marathon event, which ABN AMRO acquired in 1996. Bank of America took over the event starting with the 2007 race.
In 1997, BankAmerica lent hedge fund D. E. Shaw & Co. $1.4 billion in order to run various businesses for the bank. However, D.E. Shaw suffered significant loss after the 1998 Russia bond default. NationsBank of Charlotte acquired BankAmerica in October 1998 in what was the largest bank acquisition in history at that time.
On the capital markets side, the acquisition of Continental Illinois helped BankAmerica to build a leveraged finance origination- and distribution business, which allowed the firm's existing broker-dealer, BancAmerica Securities (originally named BA Securities), to become a full-service franchise. In addition, in 1997, BankAmerica acquired Robertson Stephens, a San Francisco–based investment bank specializing in high technology for $540 million. Robertson Stephens was integrated into BancAmerica Securities, and the combined subsidiary was renamed "BancAmerica Robertson Stephens".
These mergers helped BankAmerica Corporation to once again become the largest U.S. bank holding company in terms of deposits, but the company fell to second place in 1997 behind North Carolina's fast-growing NationsBank Corporation, and to third in 1998 behind First Union Corp.
In 1998, Bank of America possessed combined assets of $570 billion, as well as 4,800 branches in 22 states. Despite the size of the two companies, federal regulators insisted only upon the divestiture of 13 branches in New Mexico, in towns that would be left with only a single bank following the combination. The broker-dealer, NationsBanc Montgomery Securities, was named Banc of America Securities in 1998.
In 1998, the bank made a ten-year commitment of $350 billion to provide affordable mortgages, build affordable housing, support small businesses and create jobs in disadvantaged neighborhoods.
The Bank of America Corporation (simply referred to as Bank of America, often abbreviated as BofA or BoA) is an American multinational investment bank and financial services holding company headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina. The bank was founded in San Francisco, and took its present form when NationsBank of Charlotte acquired it in 1998. It is the second largest banking institution in the United States, after JPMorgan Chase, and the eighth largest bank in the world. Bank of America is one of the Big Four banking institutions of the United States. It serves approximately 10.73% of all American bank deposits, in direct competition with JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Wells Fargo. Its primary financial services revolve around commercial banking, wealth management, and investment banking.
In 2001, McColl stepped down and named Ken Lewis as his successor.
In 2004, Bank of America announced it would purchase Boston-based bank FleetBoston Financial for $47 billion in cash and stock. By merging with Bank of America, all of its banks and branches were given the Bank of America logo. At the time of merger, FleetBoston was the seventh largest bank in United States with $197 billion in assets, over 20 million customers and revenue of $12 billion. Hundreds of FleetBoston workers lost their jobs or were demoted, according to The Boston Globe.
In 2004, the bank pledged $750 million over a ten-year period for community development lending and affordable housing programs.
In 2005, Bank of America acquired a 9% stake in China Construction Bank, one of the Big Four banks in China, for $3 billion. It represented the company's largest foray into China's growing banking sector. Bank of America has offices in Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Guangzhou and was looking to greatly expand its Chinese business as a result of this deal. In 2008, Bank of America was awarded Project Finance Deal of the Year at the 2008 ALB Hong Kong Law Awards. In November 2011, Bank of America announced plans to divest most of its stake in the China Construction Bank.
On June 30, 2005, Bank of America announced it would purchase credit card giant MBNA for $35 billion in cash and stock. The Federal Reserve Board gave final approval to the merger on December 15, 2005, and the merger closed on January 1, 2006. The acquisition of MBNA provided Bank of America a leading domestic and foreign credit card issuer. The combined Bank of America Card Services organization, including the former MBNA, had more than 40 million U.S. accounts and nearly $140 billion in outstanding balances. Under Bank of America, the operation was renamed FIA Card Services.
Bank of America operated under the name BankBoston in many other Latin American countries, including Brazil. In May 2006, Bank of America and Banco Itaú (Investimentos Itaú S.A.) entered into an acquisition agreement, through which Itaú agreed to acquire BankBoston's operations in Brazil, and was granted an exclusive right to purchase Bank of America's operations in Chile and Uruguay, in exchange for Itaú shares. The deal was signed in August 2006.
On November 20, 2006, Bank of America announced the purchase of The United States Trust Company for $3.3 billion, from the Charles Schwab Corporation. US Trust had about $100 billion of assets under management and over 150 years of experience. The deal closed July 1, 2007.
Bank of America has also donated money to help health centers in Massachusetts and made a $1 million donation in 2007 to help homeless shelters in Miami.
In 2007, the bank offered employees a $3,000 rebate for the purchase of hybrid vehicles. The company also provided a $1,000 rebate or a lower interest rate for customers whose homes qualified as energy efficient. In 2007, Bank of America partnered with Brighter Planet to offer an eco-friendly credit card, and later a debit card, which help build renewable energy projects with each purchase. In 2010, the bank completed construction of the 1 Bank of America Center in Charlotte center city. The tower, and accompanying hotel, is a LEED-certified building.
On August 23, 2007, the company announced a $2 billion repurchase agreement for Countrywide Financial. This purchase of preferred stock was arranged to provide a return on investment of 7.25% per annum and provided the option to purchase common stock at a price of $18 per share.
On January 11, 2008, Bank of America announced that it would buy Countrywide Financial for $4.1 billion. In March 2008, it was reported that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was investigating Countrywide for possible fraud relating to home loans and mortgages. This news did not hinder the acquisition, which was completed in July 2008, giving the bank a substantial market share of the mortgage business, and access to Countrywide's resources for servicing mortgages. The acquisition was seen as preventing a potential bankruptcy for Countrywide. Countrywide, however, denied that it was close to bankruptcy. Countrywide provided mortgage servicing for nine million mortgages valued at $1.4 trillion as of December 31, 2007.
A $7.5 million settlement was reached in April 2014 with former chief financial officer for Bank of America, Joe L. Price, over allegations that the bank's management withheld material information related to its 2008 merger with Merrill Lynch. In August 2014, the United States Department of Justice and the bank agreed to a $16.65 billion agreement over the sale of risky, mortgage-backed securities before the Great Recession; the loans behind the securities were transferred to the company when it acquired banks such as Merrill Lynch and Countrywide in 2008. As a whole, the three firms provided $965 billion of mortgage-backed securities from 2004 to 2008. The settlement was structured to give $7 billion in consumer relief and $9.65 billion in penalty payments to the federal government and state governments; California, for instance, received $300 million to recompense public pension funds. The settlement was the largest in United States history between a single company and the federal government.
In January 2008, Bank of America began notifying some customers without payment problems that their interest rates were more than doubled, up to 28%. The bank was criticized for raising rates on customers in good standing, and for declining to explain why it had done so. In September 2009, a Bank of America credit card customer, Ann Minch, posted a video on YouTube criticizing the bank for raising her interest rate. After the video went viral, she was contacted by a Bank of America representative who lowered her rate. The story attracted national attention from television and internet commentators. More recently, the bank has been criticized for allegedly seizing three properties that were not under their ownership, apparently due to incorrect addresses on their legal documents.
LaSalle Bank and LaSalle Bank Midwest branches adopted the Bank of America name on May 5, 2008.
On September 14, 2008, Bank of America announced its intention to purchase Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc. in an all-stock deal worth approximately $50 billion. Merrill Lynch was at the time within days of collapse, and the acquisition effectively saved Merrill from bankruptcy. Around the same time Bank of America was reportedly also in talks to purchase Lehman Brothers, however a lack of government guarantees caused the bank to abandon talks with Lehman. Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy the same day Bank of America announced its plans to acquire Merrill Lynch. This acquisition made Bank of America the largest financial services company in the world. Temasek Holdings, the largest shareholder of Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc., briefly became one of the largest shareholders of Bank of America, with a 3% stake. However, taking a loss Reuters estimated at $3 billion, the Singapore sovereign wealth fund sold its whole stake in Bank of America in the first quarter of 2009.
On August 3, 2009, Bank of America agreed to pay a $33 million fine, without admission or denial of charges, to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) over the non-disclosure of an agreement to pay up to $5.8 billion of bonuses at Merrill. The bank approved the bonuses before the merger but did not disclose them to its shareholders when the shareholders were considering approving the Merrill acquisition, in December 2008. The issue was originally investigated by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who commented after the suit and announced a settlement that "the timing of the bonuses, as well as the disclosures relating to them, constituted a 'surprising fit of corporate irresponsibility'" and "our investigation of these and other matters pursuant to New York's Martin Act will continue." Congressman Kucinich commented at the same time that "This may not be the last fine that Bank of America pays for how it handled its merger of Merrill Lynch." A federal judge, Jed Rakoff, in an unusual action, refused to approve the settlement on August 5. A first hearing before the judge on August 10 was at times heated, and he was "sharply critic[al]" of the bonuses. David Rosenfeld represented the SEC, and Lewis J. Liman, son of Arthur L. Liman, represented the bank. The actual amount of bonuses paid was $3.6 billion, of which $850 million was "guaranteed" and the rest was shared amongst 39,000 workers who received average payments of $91,000; 696 people received more than $1 million in bonuses; at least one person received a more than $33 million bonus.
Shareholders of both companies approved the acquisition on December 5, 2008, and the deal closed January 1, 2009. Bank of America had planned to retain various members of the then Merrill Lynch's CEO, John Thain's management team after the merger. However, after Thain was removed from his position, most of his allies left. The departure of Nelson Chai, who had been named Asia-Pacific president, left just one of Thain's hires in place: Tom Montag, head of sales and trading.
The acquisition made Bank of America the number one underwriter of global high-yield debt, the third largest underwriter of global equity and the ninth largest adviser on global mergers and acquisitions. As the credit crisis eased, losses at Merrill Lynch subsided, and the subsidiary generated $3.7 billion of Bank of America's $4.2 billion in profit by the end of quarter one in 2009, and over 25% in quarter 3 2009.
Bank of America received $20 billion in the federal bailout from the U.S. government through the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) on January 16, 2009, and a guarantee of $118 billion in potential losses at the company. This was in addition to the $25 billion given to them in the fall of 2008 through TARP. The additional payment was part of a deal with the U.S. government to preserve Bank of America's merger with the troubled investment firm Merrill Lynch. Since then, members of the U.S. Congress have expressed considerable concern about how this money has been spent, especially since some of the recipients have been accused of misusing the bailout money. Then CEO Ken Lewis was quoted as claiming "We are still lending, and we are lending far more because of the TARP program." Members of the U.S. House of Representatives, however, were skeptical and quoted many anecdotes about loan applicants (particularly small business owners) being denied loans and credit card holders facing stiffer terms on the debt in their card accounts.
The bank, in its January 16, 2009, earnings release, revealed massive losses at Merrill Lynch in the fourth quarter, which necessitated an infusion of money that had previously been negotiated with the government as part of the government-persuaded deal for the bank to acquire Merrill. Merrill recorded an operating loss of $21.5 billion in the quarter, mainly in its sales and trading operations, led by Tom Montag. The bank also disclosed it tried to abandon the deal in December after the extent of Merrill's trading losses surfaced, but was compelled to complete the merger by the U.S. government. The bank's stock price sank to $7.18, its lowest level in 17 years, after announcing earnings and the Merrill mishap. The market capitalization of Bank of America, including Merrill Lynch, was then $45 billion, less than the $50 billion it offered for Merrill just four months earlier, and down $108 billion from the merger announcement.
According to an article in The New York Times published on March 15, 2009, Bank of America received an additional $5.2 billion in government bailout money, channeled through American International Group.
Parmalat SpA is a multinational Italian dairy and food corporation. Following Parmalat's 2003 bankruptcy, the company sued Bank of America for $10 billion, alleging the bank profited from its knowledge of Parmalat's financial difficulties. The parties announced a settlement in July 2009, resulting in Bank of America paying Parmalat $98.5 million in October 2009. In a related case, on April 18, 2011, an Italian court acquitted Bank of America and three other large banks, along with their employees, of charges they assisted Parmalat in concealing its fraud, and of lacking sufficient internal controls to prevent such frauds. Prosecutors did not immediately say whether they would appeal the rulings. In Parma, the banks were still charged with covering up the fraud.
In October 2009, Julian Assange of WikiLeaks claimed that his organization possessed a 5 gigabyte hard drive formerly used by a Bank of America executive and that Wikileaks intended to publish its contents.
On December 2, 2009, Bank of America announced it would repay the entire $45 billion it received in TARP and exit the program, using $26.2 billion of excess liquidity along with $18.6 billion to be gained in "common equivalent securities" (Tier 1 capital). The bank announced it had completed the repayment on December 9. Bank of America's Ken Lewis said during the announcement, "We appreciate the critical role that the U.S. government played last fall in helping to stabilize financial markets, and we are pleased to be able to fully repay the investment, with interest.... As America's largest bank, we have a responsibility to make good on the taxpayers' investment, and our record shows that we have been able to fulfill that commitment while continuing to lend."
Ken Lewis, who had lost the title of Chairman of the Board, announced that he would retire as CEO effective December 31, 2009, in part due to controversy and legal investigations concerning the purchase of Merrill Lynch. Brian Moynihan became president and CEO effective January 1, 2010, and afterward credit card charge offs and delinquencies declined in January. Bank of America also repaid the $45 billion it had received from the Troubled Assets Relief Program.
In 2010 the state of Arizona launched an investigation into Bank of America for misleading homeowners who sought to modify their mortgage loans. According to the attorney general of Arizona, the bank "repeatedly has deceived" such mortgagors. In response to the investigation, the bank has given some modifications on the condition that the homeowners remove some information criticizing the bank online.
In 2010, the U.S. government accused the bank of defrauding schools, hospitals, and dozens of state and local government organizations via misconduct and illegal activities involving the investment of proceeds from municipal bond sales. As a result, the bank agreed to pay $137.7 million, including $25 million to the Internal Revenue Service and $4.5 million to the state attorney general, to the affected organizations to settle the allegations.
On September 14, the judge rejected the settlement and told the parties to prepare for trial to begin no later than February 1, 2010. The judge focused much of his criticism on the fact that the fine in the case would be paid by the bank's shareholders, who were the ones that were supposed to have been injured by the lack of disclosure. He wrote, "It is quite something else for the very management that is accused of having lied to its shareholders to determine how much of those victims' money should be used to make the case against the management go away," ... "The proposed settlement," the judge continued, "suggests a rather cynical relationship between the parties: the S.E.C. gets to claim that it is exposing wrongdoing on the part of the Bank of America in a high-profile merger; the bank's management gets to claim that they have been coerced into an onerous settlement by overzealous regulators. And all this is done at the expense, not only of the shareholders but also of the truth."
While ultimately deferring to the SEC, in February 2010, Judge Rakoff approved a revised settlement with a $150 million fine "reluctantly", calling the accord "half-baked justice at best" and "inadequate and misguided". Addressing one of the concerns he raised in September, the fine will be "distributed only to Bank of America shareholders harmed by the non-disclosures, or 'legacy shareholders', an improvement on the prior $33 million while still "paltry", according to the judge. Case: SEC v. Bank of America Corp., 09-cv-06829, United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.
In November 2010, Forbes published an interview with Assange in which he stated his intent to publish information which would turn a major U.S. bank "inside out". In response to this announcement, Bank of America stock dropped 3.2%.
In December 2010, Bank of America announced that it would no longer service requests to transfer funds to WikiLeaks, stating that "Bank of America joins in the actions previously announced by MasterCard, PayPal, Visa Europe and others and will not process transactions of any type that we have reason to believe are intended for WikiLeaks... This decision is based upon our reasonable belief that WikiLeaks may be engaged in activities that are, among other things, inconsistent with our internal policies for processing payments."
On March 14, 2011, members of hacker group Anonymous began releasing emails said to be from a former Bank of America employee. According to the group, the emails documented alleged "corruption and fraud". The source, identified publicly as Brian Penny, was a former LPI Specialist from Balboa Insurance, a firm which used to be owned by the bank, but was sold to Australian Reinsurance Company QBE.
In August 2011, Bank of America was sued for $10 billion by American International Group. Another lawsuit filed in September 2011 pertained to $57.5 billion in mortgage-backed securities Bank of America sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. That December, Bank of America agreed to pay $335 million to settle a federal government claim that Countrywide Financial had discriminated against Hispanic and African-American homebuyers from 2004 to 2008, prior to being acquired by BofA. In September 2012, BofA settled out of court for $2.4 billion in a class action lawsuit filed by BofA shareholders who felt they were misled about the purchase of Merrill Lynch.
Sometime before August 2011, WikiLeaks claimed that 5 GB of Bank of America leaks was part of the deletion of over 3500 communications by Daniel Domscheit-Berg, a now ex-WikiLeaks volunteer.
In December 2011, the Justice Department announced a $335 million settlement with Bank of America over discriminatory lending practice at Countrywide Financial. Attorney General Eric Holder said a federal probe found discrimination against qualified African-American and Latino borrowers from 2004 to 2008. He said that minority borrowers who qualified for prime loans were steered into higher-interest-rate subprime loans.
In December 2011, Forbes ranked Bank of America's financial wealth 91st out of the nation's largest 100 banks and thrift institutions.
In 2012, Bank of America cut ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
On February 9, 2012, it was announced that the five largest mortgage servicers (Ally/GMAC, Bank of America, Citi, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo) agreed to a historic settlement with the federal government and 49 states. The settlement, known as the National Mortgage Settlement (NMS), required the servicers to provide about $26 billion in relief to distressed homeowners and in direct payments to the states and the federal government. This settlement amount makes the NMS the second largest civil settlement in U.S. history, only trailing the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement. The five banks were also required to comply with 305 new mortgage servicing standards. Oklahoma held out and agreed to settle with the banks separately.
The Miami Tower iconic in its appearance in Miami Vice was known as the Bank of America Tower for many years. It is located in Downtown Miami. On April 18, 2012, the AIA's Florida Chapter placed it on its list of Florida Architecture: 100 Years. 100 Places as the Bank of America Tower.
On September 28, 2012, Bank of America settled the class action lawsuit over the Merrill Lynch acquisition and will pay $2.43 billion. This was one of the first major securities class action lawsuits stemming from the financial crisis of 2007–2008 to settle. Many major financial institutions had a stake in this lawsuit, including Chicago Clearing Corporation, hedge funds, and bank trusts, due to the belief that Bank of America stock was a sure investment.
On October 24, 2012, American federal prosecutors filed a $1 billion civil lawsuit against Bank of America for mortgage fraud under the False Claims Act, which provides for possible penalties of triple the damages suffered. The government asserted that Countrywide, which was acquired by Bank of America, rubber-stamped mortgage loans to risky borrowers and forced taxpayers to guarantee billions of bad loans through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The suit was filed by Preet Bharara, the United States attorney in Manhattan, the inspector general of FHFA and the special inspector for the Troubled Asset Relief Program. In March 2014, Bank of America settled the suit by agreeing to pay $6.3 billion to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and to buy back around $3.2 billion worth of mortgage bonds.
On October 24, 2012, the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan filed a lawsuit alleging that Bank of America fraudulently cost American taxpayers more than $1 billion when Countrywide Financial sold toxic mortgages to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The scheme was called 'Hustle', or High Speed Swim Lane. On May 23, 2016, the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the finding of fact by the jury that low quality mortgages were supplied by Countrywide to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the "Hustle" case supported only "intentional breach of contract," not fraud. The action, for civil fraud, relied on provisions of the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act. The decision turned on lack of intent to defraud at the time the contract to supply mortgages was made.
In September 2013, Bank of America sold its remaining stake in the China Construction Bank for as much as $1.5 billion, marking the firm's full exit from the country.
In April 2014, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) ordered Bank of America to provide an estimated $727 million in relief to consumers harmed by practices related to credit card add-on products. According to the Bureau, roughly 1.4 million customers were affected by deceptive marketing of add-on products, and 1.9 million customers were illegally charged for credit monitoring and reporting services they were not receiving. The deceptive marketing misconduct involved telemarketing scripts containing misstatements and off-script sales pitches made by telemarketers that were misleading and omitted pertinent information. The unfair billing practices involved billing customers for privacy-related products without having the authorization necessary to perform the credit monitoring and credit report retrieval services. As a result, the company billed customers for services they did not receive, unfairly charged consumers for interest and fees, illegally charged approximately 1.9 million accounts, and failed to provide the product benefit.
In April and May 2014, Bank of America sold two dozen branches in Michigan to Huntington Bancshares. The locations were converted to Huntington National Bank branches in September.
In August 2014, Bank of America agreed to a near–$17 billion deal to settle claims against it relating to the sale of toxic mortgage-linked securities including subprime home loans, in what was believed to be the largest settlement in U.S. corporate history. The bank agreed with the U.S. Justice Department to pay $9.65 billion in fines, and $7 billion in relief to the victims of the faulty loans which included homeowners, borrowers, pension funds and municipalities. Real estate economist Jed Kolko said the settlement is a "drop in the bucket" compared to the $700 billion in damages done to 11 million homeowners. Since the settlement covered such a substantial portion of the market, he said for most consumers "you're out of luck."
In 2015, Bank of America began expanding organically, opening branches in cities where it previously did not have a retail presence. They started that year in Denver, followed by Minneapolis–Saint Paul and Indianapolis, in all cases having at least one of its Big Four competitors, with Chase Bank being available in Denver and Indianapolis, while Wells Fargo is available in Denver and the Twin Cities. The Twin Cities market is also the home market of U.S. Bancorp, the largest non-Big Four rival.
On May 6, 2015, Bank of America announced it would reduce its financial exposure to coal companies. The announcement came following pressure from universities and environmental groups. The new policy was announced as part of the bank's decision to continue to reduce credit exposure over time to the coal mining sector.
Consumer Banking, the largest division in the company, provides financial services to consumers and small businesses including, banking, investments, and lending products including business loans, mortgages, and credit cards. It provides stockbroker services via Merrill Edge, an electronic trading platform. The consumer banking division represented 38% of the company's total revenue in 2016. The company earns revenue from interest income, service charges, and fees. The company is also a mortgage servicer. It competes primarily with the retail banking arms of America's three other megabanks: Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo. The Consumer Banking organization includes over 4,600 retail financial centers and approximately 15,900 automated teller machines.
The Global Banking division provides banking services, including investment banking and lending products to businesses. It includes the businesses of Global Corporate Banking, Global Commercial Banking, Business Banking, and Global Investment Banking. The division represented 22% of the company's revenue in 2016.
The Global Markets division offers services to institutional clients, including trading in financial securities. The division provides research and other services such as market maker, and risk management using derivatives. The division represented 19% of the company's total revenues in 2016.
The Global Wealth and Investment Management (GWIM) division manages investment assets of institutions and individuals. It includes the businesses of Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management and U.S. Trust and represented 21% of the company's total revenue in 2016. It is among the 10 largest U.S. wealth managers. It has over $2.5 trillion in client balances. GWIM has five primary lines of business: Premier Banking & Investments (including Bank of America Investment Services, Inc.), The Private Bank, Family Wealth Advisors, and Bank of America Specialist.
In 2018, former senior executive Omeed Malik filed a $100 million arbitration case through FINRA against Bank of America after the company investigated him for alleged sexual misconduct. His defamation claim was on the basis of retaliation, breach of contract, and discrimination against his Muslim background. Malik received an eight-figure settlement in July.
In January 2018, Bank of America announced an organic expansion of its retail footprint into Pittsburgh and surrounding areas, to supplement its existing commercial lending and investment businesses in the area. Before the expansion, Pittsburgh had been one of the largest US cities without a retail presence by any of the Big Four, with locally based PNC Financial Services (no. 6 nationally) having a commanding market share in the area; this coincided with Chase making a similar expansion into Pittsburgh. By the end of the fiscal year 2020, Bank of America had become Pittsburgh's 16th largest bank by deposits, which considering the dominance of PNC and BNY Mellon in the market is considered relatively impressive.
In February 2018, Bank of America announced it would expand into Ohio across the state's three biggest cities (Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati), which are strongholds of Chase. Columbus serves as the bank's hub in Ohio due to its central location as the state's capital, its overall size and growth, and an existing Bank of America call center for its credit card division in suburban Westerville. Within a year of entering Ohio, Columbus quickly saw the bank become the 5th largest in the market by deposits, behind only banks either based in Ohio (Fifth Third Bank and locally-based Huntington Bancshares) or have a major presence as a result of an acquisition of an Ohio-based institution (Chase and PNC), and ahead of US Bancorp (also with a large presence due to acquiring an Ohio-based bank), Ohio-based KeyBank, and several local institutions.
In April 2018, Bank of America announced that it would stop providing financing to makers of military-style weapons such as the AR-15 rifle. In announcing the decision, Bank of America referenced recent mass shootings and said that it wanted to "contribute in any way we can" to reduce them.
On April 9, 2019, the company announced minimum wage will be increased beginning May 1, 2019, to $17.00 an hour until it reaches a goal of $20.00 an hour in 2021.