Bank of America Corp Chief Executive Officer Ken Lewis said on Tuesday that he expected history to show he was right when it came to controversial steps such as buying struggling brokerage Merrill Lynch & Co.

Lewis is stepping down as CEO at the end of December as he and the bank wrestle with investigations into the Merrill deal. He is widely criticized for overpaying for assets during the financial crisis.

I am confident history will show our actions in operating and building Bank of America positioned us for future success, Lewis said during the keynote speech at Bank of America Merrill Lynch's 2009 Financial Services Conference.

It is easy to let the short-term difficulties distract from the long-term goals, he said.

Federal regulators, lawmakers and New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo are all probing the bank's disclosures to shareholders just before they approved the Merrill acquisition late last year. Investigators have questioned whether Lewis and the bank failed to disclose big losses brewing at Merrill in the fourth quarter, and billions in bonuses paid to Merrill employees.

Lewis did not discuss his successor during his speech or take questions from the audience.

(Reporting by Joe Rauch and Elinor Comlay; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)