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Monday, April 12, 2004

BofA Revises Ethics

by: Theresa Sim

In a Friday SEC filing, Bank of America disclosed amendments to its code of ethics and insider trading policies.

The amendments included banning market timing and late trading, creating an outsourced, independent hotline for potential whistleblowers, requiring employees to notify the company if they are under investigation, and prohibiting employees from competing with the company.

The independent hotline will be maintained by The Network, Inc., whose clients also include Berkshire Hathaway and Citigroup. Bank of America spokeswoman Shirley Norton added that the company outsourced the hotline, which was previously administered in-house, to ensure confidentiality.

Bank of America’s board approved the amendments on April 2nd, and will require every employee, including those under FleetBoston, to sign the new code beginning in May. [View Bank of America’s Code of Ethics]

The wide-ranging code also bans: accepting gifts with value greater than $200, making political contributions, insider and speculative trading, accepting "lavish or unusual" hospitality, and inaccurate expense reporting.

Bank of America and FleetBoston merged on April 1st, creating a combined entity that is now the world’s second largest banking company.

Bank of America announced on April 5th that it was eliminating 12,500 jobs -- nearly seven percent of its total post-merger workforce -- over the next two years as a result of the merger.

"When we discuss job reductions, we are talking about positions not necessarily people," said Marc D. Oken, a Bank of America transition executive.

Bank of America has promised to maintain "overall employment levels in New England." It forecasts that in the short-term, there will be job reductions in the region, but reductions will be offset by growth in Boston-based businesses such as consumer banking. A company spokesman was not immediately available to comment further on job reductions. 

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