New documents in the Bank of America Corp. investigation show that chief executive Ken Lewis apparently misled federal officials when he asked them to cough up $20 billion and other financial incentives to keep him from canceling the bank’s merger with Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc.

Lewis told the feds that he had just learned of Merrill’s spiraling fourth quarter losses that eventually reached $15 billion, when in fact his bank had been following the growing losses throughout October and November. Corporate Counsel has previously reported about the timing of disclosure of the losses, and the new documents confirmed earlier stories.

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