NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- At first glance, BNY Mellon ( BK - Get Report) would seem headed for serious trouble, notwithstanding the report in Friday's edition of The Wall Street Journal that the bank is in settlement talks over accusations the bank fraudulently overcharged clients on foreign currency trades. After all, the talks with the Manhattan U.S. attorney are just "preliminary," and the amount sought by the attorney--$312 million--equates to less than 10% of the total being sought in related cases being brought against the bank by various authorities, according to The Wall Street Journal. What's more, BNY's foe in these cases is Harry Markopolos, the former money manager who was famously ignored by the Securities and Exchange Commission after alerting the regulator to the Bernie Madoff fraud. "Bank of New York's gonna go down," Markopolos told King World News in an interview last month. "It's been a hell of a crime spree for the bank, but now they're being brought to justice." Add to these difficulties BNY Mellon's CEO mysteriously abrupt departure at the end of August, and it is a wonder BNY Mellon shares are down just 28.28% over the past six months, only slightly worse than JPMorgan Chase ( JPM - Get Report)'s 26.30% over the same time period, and a better performance than Citigroup ( C - Get Report), which is down by more than 33% over the six month span. True, State Street Corp. ( STT - Get Report) has been a far better performer, down less than 15% over the past six months, but Markopolos says State Street has similar issues to those found at BNY Mellon. Still, Dick Bove, analyst at Rochdale Securities, isn't overly concerned. "This guy
Markopolos presumably comes along and takes a look at what State Street and BNY Mellon are charging and he's saying 'wow, that's way over what you could do the transaction at Goldman Sachs ( GS - Get Report) for or JPMorgan and therefore they're price gouging. But they're not price gouging, they're basically charging what the market will bear. No one goes to an automobile company and says 'you're price gouging because you're not letting the customer set the price of the car. The State Attorney General does not go out and sue General Motors ( GM) because the state is paying over or above some price for its fleet deal with General Motors. This is New York, where they sue everybody they can sue at the drop of a hat for political gain," Bove contends, adding "I'm totally on BNY's side on this thing. I just think that this suit is absurd."
As far as Kelly's departure goes, Bove argues he was fired. "The company won't tell why other than to say he had personality conflicts with the board and members of top management, which I don't believe. Kelly is a wise-ass and always has been but I don't believe that he had major conflicts because the people who worked with him liked his style," Bove says. "I think the reason is that earnings have not gone up from the day that he stepped in. He wasn't delivering is the bottom line." In the end, Bove believes investors more or less shrug off the lawsuits because "it's open season on suing banks." As a result, he says, "who cares about the next lawsuit coming down the pike? You live with it." -- Written by Dan Freed in New York.