Bank of America scurries to mount defense ahead of Wikileaks revelations

By Sahil Kapur
Monday, January 3, 2011 7:00 EDT
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Fearing that Wikileaks could publish secrets that will damage its reputation, top Bank of America officials are internally investigating what information Wikileaks may possess, as the company’s chief executive officer closely monitors the situation.

On November 30, just hours after Raw Story first unearthed evidence that Wikileaks held data exposing corruption at Bank of America, bank executives held a late-night conference call to discuss damage control, the New York Times reports.

Bank of America stock fell 3 percent that day, as wire services and the business press picked up on the report that the corporation was the apparent target of Wikileaks chief Julian Assange’s threat to “take down” a major US bank early in 2011.

The bank’s chief risk officer Bruce Thompson has since led a team of 15 to 20 senior officials at Bank of America to probe which BofA executive’s hard drive the anti-secrecy outlet might possess. The Times reports that the investigation involves “scouring thousands of documents” and tracing computers that have gone missing or been vulnerable to cyber-attacks.

BofA CEO Brian Moynihan “receives regular updates on the team’s progress,” an executive with knowledge of the investigation told the Times.

The bank initially sought to ward off the reports amid falling share prices. “Aside from the claims themselves, we have no evidence that supports this assertion. We are unaware of any new claims by WikiLeaks that pertain specifically to Bank of America,” spokesman Scott Silvestri told CNBC senior editor John Carney.

But the bank’s actions suggest it is taking the threat very seriously. Assange has regularly given advance notice of his upcoming leaks and so far has delivered on his promises.

He has declined to discuss the details of the information on BofA that he holds, but has compared it to the Enron scandal, pledging it will reveal an “ecosystem of corruption” within the bank and possibly lead to high-level resignations.

On December 18, Bank of America stopped processing payments to Wikileaks, joining Visa and Mastercard in an attempt to financially isolate the group that has also infuriated the US government with its unauthorized leak of State Department cables.

He is currently under house arrest in London for charges of sexual misconduct by Swedish officials, and is a target of US officials reportedly seeking ways to prosecute him for espionage.

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