State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, who has been quite litigious of late, announced this morning he has filed separate lawsuits in the US District Court for the Southern District against Merrill Lynch & Co. and Bank of America Corp. for violating federal securities laws.

The comptroller had been involved in class action suits against these banks, but decided to go his own way to maximize return for the members, beneficiaries and retirees of the pension fund, according to DiNapoli spokesman Robert Whalen.

Also named in the suits: BofA’s Kenneth Lewis, Joseph Price and Neil Cotty; and Merrill’s E. Stanley O’Neal and Jeffrey Edwards.

“These companies thought they could get away with profiting at the expense of New York’s pensioners and taxpayers through fraudulent activities and misleading public disclosures, and they were mistaken,” DiNapoli said in a press release.

“Today, these companies have been served notice that they will be held accountable for losses caused through their misconduct. Investors, like the Fund, can tolerate risk – it’s what we do – but we cannot tolerate this kind of corporate irresponsibility.”

The lawsuits seek the recovery of cash lost by the pension fund (an exact dollar amount is not given, but is estimated at “tens of millions of dollars,” according to Whalen), related to Merrill’s “fraud and deception” in the subprime mortgage mess and BofA’s “misrepresentation and concealment of material facts” in connection with its purchase of Merrill and $138 billion taxpayer-funded bailout.

Bank of America Complaint

Merrill Lynch Complaint