Lehman says BofA should return another $9 million

By @ibtimes on

Lehman Brothers Holdings is demanding that Bank of America return an additional $9 million on top of $500 million it has been ordered to repay by a bankruptcy judge.

The additional money was seized by Bank of America in violation of automatic stay provisions in bankruptcy law, Lehman attorney Peter Isakoff said in U.S. bankruptcy court on Wednesday.

Automatic stay bars seizure of a company's assets after a bankruptcy case begins.

In November, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge James Peck ruled that Bank of America violated federal law by brazenly seizing $500 million of Lehman's deposits shortly after Lehman's September 2008 bankruptcy filing, and ordered the money returned. Bank of America has said it intends to appeal the order.

The decision was a victory for Lehman as it tries to repay creditors still owed hundreds of billions of dollars.

The judge later ruled the bank must also pay interest, bringing the total to about $595 million.

Bank of America has said it had a right to the money to set off unrelated claims. Setoff is a right banks have to use funds from one client account to pay debts in another account of the same client.

Isakoff said Bank of America also seized about $7 million in four smaller Lehman accounts, now worth almost $9 million counting foreign currency appreciation. Lehman is also demanding $1.25 million in attorney's fees.

Bank of America has said the smaller accounts were not part of the judge's original order and should be argued separately.

Even in a case this size, a few million dollars is a few million dollars and is not a paltry sum, Bank of America lawyer Jeffrey Sabin said in court on Wednesday.

Judge Peck told the attorneys for both sides to submit written briefs on how the smaller accounts should be handled.

Bank of America, which provided clearing services to Lehman, demanded the $500 million as security in August 2008 when it became concerned about Lehman's financial condition, according to Judge Peck's November opinion.

The case is Bank of America NA v. Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc et al, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York, No. 08-ap-01753. The main Lehman bankruptcy case is In re: Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc in the same court, 08-13555.

(Reporting by Dena Aubin; Editing by Gary Hill)

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