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BOB MOON: Bank of America has assembled a special action-squad, of sorts according to the New York Times. It’s in response to a threat by Julian Assange of the website Wikileaks who has vowed to expose corruption at a major U.S. bank. And the Times reports a team of up to 20 top executives at B-of-A have been reviewing cases in which computers were lost or compromised.
Forbes Magazine reporter Halah Touryalai is on the line to talk about this. Thanks for joining us.
HALAH TOURYALAI: No problem, thanks for having me.
MOON: So just why would B of A be so defensive before we know for sure which bank Wikileaks claims to have the dirt on.
TOURYALAI: It seems right now all fingers are pointing to Bank of America. Back in late 2009 Assange actually did reveal to a publication that he had about 5 gigabyte of information specifically on Bank of America. And though recently he hasn’t confirm that Bank of America, all fingers are pointing there simply because we’ve put two and two together.
MOON: What might a Wikileaks datadump like this mean for Bank of America? Any guesses as to what’s in there?
TOURYALAI: You know, it’s hard to say. When the information first came out, shares did drop that day below $11 which is hasn’t done in so long, but you know what? When you look back from November 30th, when this info came up, Bank of America stock has done pretty well. And I even wrote in the piece recently on my blog on Forbes that maybe Assange is actually working for Bank of America because their shares are up over 20 percent since this has dropped. There’s no way that this bank will actually fail as a result of some Wikileaks.
MOON: Do you think this could have the affect of directing some of the heat that Wikileaks has been taking, given that a lot of Americans think even less of the big bailed out banks?
TOURYALAI: To the extent that whatever he releases of Bank of America in changing the hearts and minds of people who already don’t like the guy, I don’t think so. Especially when you’re going after an industry that’s already so criticized. I think it would almost be like, tell us something we don’t know. This is an industry that’s been so criticized over the last couple of years, getting the bail outs and the scandals, the foreclosures. I don’t think this will change really the outlook on Julian Assange.
MOON: Halah Touryalai with Forbes magazine. Thanks for joining us.
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