The bank announced the management changes just as the Securities and Exchange Commission accused BofA (NYSE: bac) of making false and misleading statements to investors about bonuses at Merrill Lynch before the brokerage giant was aquired late last year. BofA settled the civil suit for $33 million. (Click here for story)
The changes put five executives in the running to eventually succeed Lewis, who has been under fire in recent months over his handling of the Merrill Lynch acquisition. The timing of the succession is unclear and could take months.
After the SEC suit was reported, BofA said Lewis had the full support of the board.
According to a company press release, the changes to the management include:
—Brian Moynihan, currently head of Global Corporate and Investment Banking and of Global Wealth Management, will become head of Consumer Banking, which will include the company's deposit, small business and card businesses as well as the retail delivery network.
—Ric Struthers will continue to run the card business and to be a member of the Executive Management Team, reporting to Moynihan.
—Tom Montag, who currently runs Global Markets for the company, will also run Global Corporate and Investment Banking.
—Sallie Krawcheck, a veteran of a range of senior financial services positions, will join Bank of America and run Global Wealth and Investment Management. She will also be a member of the Executive Management Team.(Watch CNBC'S interview with Krawcheck from last week)
—David Darnell, who runs Global Commercial Banking, will now report directly to Lewis and join the Executive Management Team.
"These changes are designed to drive enhanced performance and to ensure that our strategies and franchise are positioned for maximum success in the coming years," Lewis said in a statement.
In a lawsuit in Manhattan federal court, the SEC said Bank of America claimed that Merrill had agreed not to pay year-end performance bonuses or other incentive compensation to Merrill executives before the Jan. 1, 2009, without Bank of America's permission.
But Bank of America had authorized Merrill to pay discretionary year-end bonuses, according to the SEC. Merrill paid $3.6 billion in bonuses near the end of 2008 despite losing $27.6 billion that year.
The SEC seeks an injunction barring Bank of America executives from breaking securities laws and seeks fine.
"Companies must give shareholders all material information about corporate transactions they are asked to approve," said Robert Khuzami, Director of the SEC's Division of Enforcement. "Failing to disclose that a struggling company will pay out billions of dollars in performance bonuses obviously violates that duty and warrants the significant financial penalty imposed by today's settlement."
Bank of America purchased investment bank and brokerage Merrill Lynch in January, largely for its wealth management business, which Lewis referred to as the "crown jewel" of the acquisition.
Since the acquisition, Federal Reserve head Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson have gone under fire for forcing the deal.
—Reuters contributed to this report
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