Bank of America CEO to discuss responsible use of bailout funds

In an appearance today on Capitol Hill, Bank of America Corp. chief executive Ken Lewis will tell lawmakers his bank is still lending and making money, but strike a humble tone, according to prepared remarks provided to the Charlotte Observer.

"Taxpayers want to see how we are using this money to restart the economy, and want us to manage our expenses carefully," Lewis plans to say in brief opening comments. "These expectations are appropriate, and we are working to meet them."

Lewis highlights the bank's $115 billion in loans in the fourth quarter and its plans to track its record in coming quarters. He also notes that he and his top lieutenants have given up bonuses, while executives one level below had their payouts cut by an average of 80 percent.

Lewis and Wells Fargo & Co. CEO John Stumpf are among eight bank leaders testifying before the House Financial Services Committee. Their institutions received the first round of government assistance in October. The money was designed to boost lending, but banks have come under fire for expenses such as bonuses and corporate jet use.

In lengthier testimony posted on the panel's Web site, the CEOs lay out how they are using the money and acknowledge taxpayers' right to know how their money is being spent. Wells Fargo, which bought Charlotte's Wachovia last year, says it made $72 billion in new loans in the fourth quarter.

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