Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on Thursday pushed back hard against accusations the Fed threatened Bank of America executives if they halted a merger with Merrill Lynch or pressured them to withhold bad news about the troubled investment bank.

Neither I nor any member of the Federal Reserve ever directed, instructed, or advised Bank of America to withhold from public disclosure any information relating to Merrill Lynch, Bernanke told the House of Representatives Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

The top Republican on the panel, Representative Darrell Issa, on Wednesday charged the Fed had covered up its involvement in the merger and deliberately hid important details from other federal regulators.

The Fed has faced scrutiny and questioning from Congress regarding many of the extraordinary actions it took during the financial crisis that began in the summer of 2007.

The probe of the Bank of America-Merrill merger comes as lawmakers debate the Obama administration's proposal to overhaul financial oversight that many believe failed to spot problems that led to the crisis.

The committee's Democratic chairman, Representative Edolphus Towns, said the panel was not even close to wrapping up its probe into the deal and regulators' actions surrounding it.

(Reporting by Mark Felsenthal; Editing by Theodore d'Afflisio)