Shakeup Begins at Bank of America (NYSE: BAC); Curl’s Duties Limited

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that new Chief Executive Officer Brian Moynihan is expected to make his first major restructuring announcement at Bank of America (BAC). Moynihan is expected to announce a new, diminished role for Gregory Curl, a confidant of former chief executives Kenneth D. Lewis and Hugh L. McCool, Jr.

The 61-year old Curl is expected to lose the chief risk officer post he has held since mid-2009 as Mr. Moynihan begins to install his own circle of lieutenants.

Sources close to Curl suggest that he will likely leave Bank of America after an unspecified period of time. However, for the time being he is expected to continue to manage certain relationships.

Curl’s departure would mark the first high-ranking executive to depart since Mr. Moynihan became CEO on January 1, succeeding Mr. Lewis. Moynihan is expected to reorganize the company’s top ranks soon. The announcement is likely to include naming someone to take over from Mr. Moynihan as head of Bank of America’s sprawling consumer-banking operations.

The shuffle will show how the power structure at Bank of America is quickly shifting under Mr. Moynihan, who lives near Boston and came to the company through its 2004 purchase of FleetBoston Financial Corp.

Mr. Curl, who has a cattle ranch in the same corner of Missouri where he grew up, is a link to Bank of America’s past, serving as a trusted adviser to Messrs. Lewis and McColl as they turned a small, upstart bank into a coast-to-coast powerhouse. Mr. Curl recently led negotiations with the U.S. government to return $45 billion in bailout funds.

After Mr. Lewis surprised directors with his retirement announcement in September, Mr. Curl emerged as a strong candidate for the CEO job, with Mr. Lewis telling directors that he would be the least disruptive choice. But Mr. Moynihan came out on top after talks with Bank of New York Mellon Corp. CEO Robert Kelly ended.

Separately, the Securities and Exchange Commission said it planned to file new charges against the bank for failing to disclose Merrill Lynch & Co.’s steep losses prior to a takeover of the securities firm. The SEC said it wouldn’t file charges against bank executives or directors, saying it hasn’t found any evidence that executives deliberately concealed information from lawyers or that internal or outside lawyers intentionally sought to mislead shareholders. To charge individuals with wrongdoing, the agency would have to prove they intentionally sought to mislead investors.

A federal judge on Monday said the SEC couldn’t file it as part of its ongoing litigation against the bank but could file a new lawsuit.