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Judge approves Bank of America settlement

A federal judge has approved a $150 million settlement between Bank of America and the SEC. That means the two civil lawsuits regulators filed against the bank will not go to trial. U.S. District Court Judge Jed Rakoff approved the settlement, but reluctantly. In a written opinion he called it "half-baked justice at its very best." He's critical of the settlement because he says it doesn't hold specific individuals responsible or give victim's enough compensation. Rakoff also says it isn't likely to have much impact on corporate practices. Still, he says it satisfies the court's minimum requirements. Rakoff's approval was far from a sure thing. Last August, he refused to sign off on the two party's first try at a settlement. Bank of America agreed to pay $33 million for failing to notify shareholders that the bank gave Merrill Lynch the go ahead to pay $3.6 billion in bonuses. Rakoff told the bank and the SEC to go back to the drawing board. This $150 million settlement resolves that suit, as well as another the SEC filed last month. In that case, the SEC says Bank of America failed to disclose several billion dollars in Merrill Lynch losses before the two companies merged. The bank says it's very pleased with the settlement. The two parties have until Thursday to ratify the agreement. Bank of America and its former CEO Ken Lewis still must contend with lawsuits filed by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo regarding its acquisition of Merrill Lynch.