Matt Taibbi has a field day with the deposition of Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan in the litigation MBIA v. Bank of America, Countrywide, and a Buttload of Other Shameless Mortgage Fraudsters.

Here’s the money shot:

“Thank God for Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan. If you’re a court junkie, or have the misfortune (as some of us poor reporters do) of being forced professionally to spend a lot of time reading legal documents, the just-released Moynihan deposition in MBIA v. Bank of America, Countrywide, and a Buttload of Other Shameless Mortgage Fraudsters will go down as one of the great Nixonian-stonewalling efforts ever, and one of the more entertaining reads of the year.”

Taibbi does not hold back, invoking metaphors from Captain Kirk to Peter Sellers.

“In this long-awaited interrogation – Bank of America has been fighting to keep Moynihan from being deposed in this case for some time – Moynihan does a full Star Trek special, boldly going where no deponent has ever gone before, breaking out the “I don’t recall” line more often and perhaps more ridiculously than was previously thought possible. Moynihan seems to remember his own name, and perhaps his current job title, but beyond that, he’ll have to get back to you.”

Here’s some of the questioning from MBIA’s lawyer:

Sir, you were CEO of Bank Of America in January, 2010, but you don’t know what Countrywide Financial Corporation was doing at that time?”

In an impressive display of balls, Moynihan essentially replies that Bank of America is a big company, and it’s unrealistic to ask the CEO to know about all of its parts, even the ones that are multi-billion-dollar suckholes about which the firm has been engaged in nearly constant litigation from the moment it acquired the company.

“We have several thousand legal entities,” is how Moynihan puts it. “Exactly what subsidiary took place [sic] is not what you do as the CEO. That is [sic] other people’s jobs to make sure.”

The exasperated MBIA lawyer tries again: If it’s true that Moynihan somehow managed to not know anything about the bank’s most important and most problematic subsidiary when he became CEO, well, did he ever make an effort to correct that ignorance? “Do you ever come to learn what CFC was doing?” is how the question is posed.

I’m not sure that I recall exactly what CFC was doing versus other parts,” Moynihan sagely concludes.

The deposition rolls on like this for 223 agonizing pages. The entire time, the Bank of America CEO presents himself as a Being There-esque cipher who was placed in charge of a Too-Big-To-Fail global banking giant by some kind of historical accident beyond his control, and appears to know little to nothing at all about the business he is running.”

You don’t need to read all 223 pages — Taibbi does an admirable job pulling out the choice bits.



No Evidence He Was Stoned, But Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan Apparently Doesn’t Remember Much of the Last Four Years
Matt Taibbi
Taibblog November 27, 2012


Category: Legal

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5 Responses to “QOTD: “Thank God for BofA CEO Brian Moynihan””

  1. vachon says:

    Just finished reading this. If his testimony is rejected, boom goes the dynamite. Ain’t gonna happen.

  2. Petey Wheatstraw says:

    The Sgt. Schultz gambit.

  3. Iamthe50percent says:

    If he was so out of the loop, maybe his salary and bonuses should be clawed back.

  4. ellwood2011 says:

    This is infantile. A CEO’s main jobs are to manage capital allocation, select good people to run the day to day business of the company, supervise them apropriately, interface with major investors, and be the public face of the company. No CEO of a conglomerate could off the cuff state specifically what a specific subsidiary was doing in a specific month three years ago. I would be hard pressed to state what I was doing on a specific deal in January 2010 and I only have half a dozen deals a year. A CEO who wanted to know the answer would call up a manager who would report to him or her the answer. A witness can’t do that in a deposition. So he has to say, I don’t know. The witness in a deposition is under no obligation to prepare himself to give the most comprehensive answer possible.He was doubtless told by the lawyers for the case that if he did not know an answer for sure, don’t guess, just say you don’t know. This is a common instruction in any sort of trial because you are under oath and don’t want to be accused of perjury. If the lawyer taking the deposition wanted in good faith to know what Countrywide was doing in January 2010, there is probably a financial report somewhere that tells him.

    This is just a mediocre lawyer’s attempt to embarrass the guy because he couldn’t get anything out of him otherwise, and a journalist who doesn’t understand how either depositions work or how management works in a big company.

  5. rd says:

    A fundamental question that I have had is why it is not possible to prosecute these CEOs under SarbOx after depositions like this where they state that they don’t really know what their companies are doing financially or operationally.