November 12, 2014

Citibank, JPMorgan Among Firms to Pay $4.3B For Currency Rigging Penalties

Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc (RBS), UBS AG (UBS), (HSBC), Bank of America Corp (BAC), HSBC Holdings Plc, JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), and Citigroup Inc. (C) will pay $4.3 billion in penalties to regulators in the United States and Europe for failing to stop traders from attempting to manipulate the foreign exchange market. Further penalties could also result not just for the banks but also for certain individuals in the wake of litigation accusing bank dealers of colluding amongst themselves to rig benchmarks that are used in determining foreign currency.

According to authorities, the dealers exchange confidential data regarding client orders and worked it out so their trades would enhance profits. This information was purportedly exchanged in online chat rooms. Regulators say the misconduct occurred from 2008 through October 2013. The probe has also widened to look into whether traders used confidential information to take bets on unauthorized personal accounts and if clients were charged excessive commissions by sales desks.

The currency rigging probe has led to the firing or suspension of over 30 traders while the number of automated trade transactions have increased. In the U.S. the Federal Reserve, the Justice Department, and New York’s financial regulator continue to investigate banks over foreign exchange trading. Meantime, some lawyers have spoke out about how the settlement doesn’t address client compensation.

The regulators involved in the currency rigging probe included The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, The U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, Switzerland’s Financial Market Supervisory Authority, and Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority. Here is a breakdown of the fines:

FCA is fining:

UBS $371 million
Citibank $358 million
RBS $344 million
JPMorgan $352 million
HSBC $343 million

CFTC is fining:
Citibank $310 million
HSBC $275 million
JPMorgan $310 million
UBS $290 million
RBS $290 million

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency assessed JPMorgan, Citigroup, and Bank of America $950 million for their practices related to forex trading. Barclays Plc (BARC) which pulled out of talks resulting in these latest settlements, is looking to arrive at a more “coordinated settlement.”

Contact The SSEK Partners Group to speak with one of our securities lawyers if you suspect you were the victim of financial fraud.


Regulators fine global banks $4.3 billion in currency investigation
, Reuters, November 12, 2014

JPMorgan, Citi Among Five Banks In $3.3 Billion Forex Settlement, Forbes, November 12, 2014

Six Banks to Pay $4.3 Billion in First Wave of Currency-Rigging Penalties, Bloomberg, November 12, 2014


More Blog Posts:

Two Former Merrill Lynch Brokers Contend with Unauthorized Trading Claims, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, November 10, 2014

AIG Advisor Group, Securities America, LPL Financial, Cambridge, And Even Schorsch’s Broker-Dealer Stops Selling His REITs, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, November 7, 2014

SEC Approves Regulations Involving REIT Prices and Arbitration Fraud Intervention, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, October 18, 2014

October 28, 2014

FINRA Fines Merrill Lynch $6M For Supervisory Failures and REG SHO Violations

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority is fining and censuring Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated $2.5M for not setting up, maintaining, and enforcing supervisory procedures and systems related to certain areas, including Regulation SHO. The self-regulatory organization is fining Merrill Lynch Professional Clearing Corp. $3.5M, also for Reg SHO violations. Bank of America (BAC), which acquired Merrill Lynch in 2008, will pay the $6M fines to FINRA.

Reg SHO is an SEC rule governing short sales. One of its purposes is to curb abusive naked short selling. The regulation also seeks to lower the incidents of sellers neglecting to deliver securities in a timely manner by requiring firms to timely “close out” fail-to-deliver positions by purchasing or borrowing securities of similar type and quantity. It lets firms reasonably allocate fail-to-deliver positions to brokerage firm clients that contributed or caused those positions.

According to the SRO, from 9/08 through 7/12, Merrill Lynch PRO failed to close out certain fail-to-deliver position, and, for most of that period, lacked the necessary procedures and systems to handle REG Show close-out requirements. FINRA said that from 09/08 through 3/011, the firm’s supervisory systems and procedures were not sufficient, making it possible for the firm to improperly allocate fail-to-deliver positions to the brokerage firm’s clients on the basis of clients’ short positions while not having to heed clients played a part in the fail-to-deliver positions.

In August, it was the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission that imposed a $1.2 million fine against Merrill Lynch. The regulator charged the brokerage firm with inadequate supervision that led to customers being charged excessive fees from at least 1/10 through 4/13. The settlement was reached without admission or denial of the findings.

The CFTC claims that for over two years, there were problems with firm’s process for fee reconciliation, which involves noting and fixing discrepancies between the invoices from exchange clearinghouses and how much customers were charged. Because of this, some Merrill clients were undercharged and others were overcharged. This resulted unexplained extra fees of $451,318 that were paid by 196 clients.

The agency said that Merrill Lynch failed to hire qualified staff to oversee and perform fee reconciliations and did not provide completed manuals to staff on how to perform fee reconciliations until at least last year. Staff was inadequately trained on how to conduct fee reconciliations.

FINRA Fines Merrill Lynch a Total of $6 Million for Reg SHO Violations and Supervisory Failures, FINRA, October 27, 2014

Please contact our securities lawyers if you suspect you were the victim of financial fraud.


More Blog Posts:
SEC Investigates Merrill Lynch & Charles Schwab Over Allegations of Failures that Allowed Mexican Drug Cartels to Launder Money, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, May 22, 2014

FINRA Conducts 170 Probes Into Possible Algorithmic Abuse, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, May 21, 2014

FINRA Arbitration Panel Orders Stifel Nicolaus to Pay $2.7M to Ex-Head Trader, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, May 24, 2014

October 11, 2014

Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, and 16 Other Banks Agree to Swaps Contract Modifications to Assist Failed Firms

JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBA), Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS), Credit Suisse (CS), and fourteen other big banks have agreed to changes that will be made to swaps contracts. The modifications are designed to assist in the unwinding of firms that have failed.

Under the plan, which was announced by the International Swaps and Derivatives Association, banks’ counterparties that are in resolution proceedings will postpone contract termination rights and collateral demands. According to ISDA CEO Scott O’Malia, the industry initiative seeks to deal with the too-big-to-fail issue while lowing systemic risks.

Regulators have pressed for a pause in swaps collateral collection. They believe this could allow banks the time they need to recapitalize and prevent the panic that ensued after Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. failed in 2008. Regulators can then move the assets of a failing firm, as well as its other obligations, into a “bridge” company so that derivatives contracts won’t need to be unwound and asset sales won't have to be conducted when the company is in trouble. Delaying when firms can terminate swaps after a company gets into trouble prevents assets from disappearing and payments from being sent out in disorderly, too swift fashion as a bank is dismantled.

After Lehman’s bankruptcy filing, it still had tens of thousands of individual derivative positions. Trading partners tried to close out swaps trades with the firm right away, even demanding their collateral back. Because of this, billions of dollars of swap-termination payments were issued.

Current U.S. bankruptcy laws exempt swaps and other derivatives from the stay that prevents creditors of a firm that has failed from collecting on what they are owed right away. Banks’ swap counterparties, however, have been able to move fast to grab collateral.

ISDA has changed the language in a standard swaps contract following concerns from U.S. regulators that close-out derivatives transactions could slow resolution efforts. The changes allow banks to get involved in overseas resolution regimes that might only have been applicable to domestic trades.

The deal with the banks stretches out delays or stays to 90% of what is outstanding of notional value of derivatives. The firms have agreed in principal to wait up to 48 hours before canceling derivatives contracts and collecting payments from firms that are in trouble.

Establishing a credible plan to unwind failed banks could get rid of the impression that governments will rescue firms if they become too big too fail.

The other banks that have consented to this agreement:
· Bank of America (BAC)
· UBS AG (UBSN)
· Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ
· Sumitomo Mutsui Financial Group Inc.
· Societe Generale SA (GLE)
· Barclays Plc (BARC)
· Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc
· BNP Paribas SA (BNP)
· Nomura Holdings Inc.
· Citigroup Inc. (C)
· Mizuho Financial Group. Inc.
· Credit Agricole SA (CA)
· Morgan Stanley (MS)
· Deutsche Bank AG (DBK)

The Wall Street Journal says that under the agreement, firms are agreeing to forfeit certain rights that exist with their current contracts.

Banks Back Swap Contracts That Could Help Unwind Too-Big-to-Fail, Bloomberg, October 11, 2014

Banks Ink Swaps Deal With U.S. Regulators
, The Wall Street Journal, October 12, 2014

International Swaps and Derivatives Association


More Blog Posts:
Securities Fraud: Ex-Ameriprise Adviser to Pay $3M for Ponzi Scam, Four Insurance Agents Allegedly Defrauded Senior Investors, and Trading in Nine Penny Stocks is Suspended, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, October 8, 2014

As SEC Examines Private-Equity Consultant Salaries, Blackstone Stops Monitoring Fees, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, October 8, 2014

Private Equity Firms, Including Blackstone, Settle ‘Club Deals’ Case with $325M Settlement, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, August 9, 2014

September 28, 2014

Bank America to Pay $7.65M to SEC Over $4B Capital Error

Bank of America Corp. (BAC) will pay a $7.75 million penalty to settle U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission charges alleging violations of civil securities laws involving record keeping and internal controls. The case is over the $4 billion capital error that the bank disclosed earlier in the year.

In April, Bank of America said that it had been miscalculating certain capital levels since 2009. By the end of last year the error was over $4.3 billion. The violations took place after the firm took on a huge portfolio that included structured notes when it acquired Merrill Lynch.

The SEC says that when Bank of America acquired Merrill Lynch it permissibly recorded the notes it inherited at a discount to par. Bank of America then should have realized losses on the notes while they matured and deducted them for purposes of figuring out and reporting regulatory capital.

The regulator says that by the time 90% of the notes had matured as of March of this year, the bank still hadn’t subtracted the realized losses from its regulatory capital.

Bank of America was the one that discovered the mistake and notified regulators. Because of the error it had to resubmit stress-test plans to the Federal Reserve.

Aside from the penalty, Bank of America must cease and desist from causing or committing violations of specific sections of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.

SEC Charges Bank of America With Securities Laws Violations in Connection With Regulatory Capital Overstatements, SEC.gov, September 29, 2014

The SEC Order (PDF)


More Blog Posts:

Bank of America, Its Ex-CEO To Pay $25M to Settle Securities Case with NY Over Merrill Lynch Deal, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, March 31, 2014

$500M MBS Settlement Reached Between Countrywide and Investors, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, May 10, 2013

Bank of America Settles Mortgage Bond Claims with FHFA for $9.3B, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, March 29, 2014

September 27, 2014

Virginia Files $1.15B Securities Lawsuit Against Citigroup, Credit Suisse, JPMorgan Chase, and Other Big Banks

The state of Virginia is suing 13 of the biggest banks in the U.S. for $1.15 billion. The state’s Attorney General Mark R. Herring claims that they misled the Virginia Retirement System about the quality of bonds in residential mortgages. The retirement fund bought the mortgage bonds between 2004 and 2010.

The defendants include Citigroup (C), JPMorgan Chase (JPM), Credit Suisse AG (CS), Bank of America Corp. (BAC), Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS), Morgan Stanley (MS), Deutsche Bank (DB), RBS Securities (RBS), HSBC Holdings Inc. (HSBC), Barclays Group (BARC), Countrywide Securities, Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Inc., and WAMU Capital (WAMUQ). According to Herring, nearly 40% of the 785,000 mortgages backing the 220 securities that the retirement fund bought were misrepresented as at lower risk of default than they actually were. When the Virginia Retirement System ended up having to sell the securities, it lost $383 million.

The mortgage bond fraud claims are based on allegations from Integra REC, which is a financial modeling firm and the identified whistleblower in this fraud case. Herring’s office wants each bank to pay $5,000 or greater per violation. As a whistleblower, Integra could get 15-25% of any recovery for its whistleblower claims.

In the last year, state attorneys general, the U.S. Justice Department, and other federal agencies have arrived at large settlements with several of the big banks over residential mortgage securities fraud charges.

Virginia sues 13 big banks, claiming mortgage securities fraud, The Washington Post, September 16, 2014

Virginia sues 13 banks for $1 billion over alleged mortgage bond fraud, Reuters, September 16, 2014


More Blog Posts:

SEC Investigates Pimco Exchange-Traded Fund for Artificial Inflation, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, September 25, 2014


Stifel, Nicolaus & Century Securities Must Pay More than $1M Over Inverse and Leveraged ETF Sales, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, January 14, 2014

Barclays to Pay $15M SEC Settlement Over Compliance Failures Following Lehman Brothers Acquisition, Pays $61.7M Fine to U.K.'s FCA Over Client Asset Issues, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, September 24, 2014

September 4, 2014

Securities Lawsuit Accuses Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan Chase, Credit Suisse, and Other Banks of Manipulating ISDAfix

The Alaska Electrical Pension Fund is suing several banks for allegedly conspiring to manipulate ISDAfix, which is the benchmark for establishing the rates for interest rate derivatives and other financial instruments in the $710 trillion derivatives market. The pension fund contends that the banks worked together to set the benchmark at artificial levels so that they could manipulate investor payments in the derivative. The Alaska fund says that this impacted financial instruments valued at trillions of dollars.

The defendants are:

Bank of America Corp. (BAC)
Deutsche Bank (DB),
• BNP Paribas SA (BNP)
Citigroup (C)
• Nomura Holdings Inc. (NMR)
Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC)
Credit Suisse (CS)
JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM)
• HSBC Holdings Plc. (HSBA)
Goldman Sachs Group (GS)
• Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc (RBS)
• Barclays Plc (BARC)
UBS AG (UBS)

The banks are accused of using electronic chat rooms and other private means to communicate and colluding with one another by submitting the same rate quotes. The manipulation was allegedly intended to keep the ISDAfix rate “artificially low” until they would reverse its direction once the reference point was established.

The Alaska fund said the rigging was an attempt by the banks to make money on swaptions with clients looking to hedge against interest rate fluctuations. The defendants purportedly wanted to modify the swaps’ value because the ISDAfix rate determines other derivatives’ prices, which are used by firms, such as the fund. The rigging allegedly occurred via rapid trades just before the rate was established. ICAP, a British broker-dealer, was then compelled to delay the trades until the banks shifted the rate. Meantime, the brokerage firm, which is also a defendant in this lawsuit, would post a rate that did not accurately show the market activity.

The Alaska fund is adamant that the submission of identical numbers by the banks when they reported price quotes to establish ISDAfix could not have occurred without the financial institutions working together, which it believes occurred almost daily for over three years through 2012. It wants to represent every investor that participated in interest rate derivative transactions linked to ISDAfix between 01/06 through 01/14. The Alaska fund wants unspecified damages, which, under U.S. antitrust law, could be tripled.

Investors and companies utilize ISDAfix to price structured debt securities, commercial real estate mortgages, and other swap transactions. At The SSEK Partners Group, our securities lawyers represent pension funds and other institutional investors that have been the victim of financial fraud and are seeking to recoup their losses. Your case consultation with us is a free, no obligation session. We can help you determine whether you have grounds for a securities claim or lawsuit. If we decide to work together, legal fees would only come from any financial recovery.

An Alaska pension fund sues banks over rate manipulation allegations, Reuters, September 4, 2014

Barclays, BofA, Citigroup Sued for ISDAfix Manipulation, Bloomberg, September 4, 2014


More Blog Posts:
Lloyds Banking Group to Pay $370M Fine Over Libor Manipulation, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, July 29, 2014

Lloyds, Barclays, to Set Aside Hundreds of Millions of Dollars for Allegedly Mis-Selling to Victims, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, August 27, 2013

Texas Money Manager Sued by SEC and CFTC Over Alleged Forex Trading Scam, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, August 6, 2013

August 23, 2014

Bank of America to Pay $16.65 Billion to Settle DOJ Mortgage Probe

Bank of America (BAC) and the U.S. Department of Justice have arrived at a $16.65 billion mortgage settlement. Under the agreement, the lender will pay $9.65 billion to the DOJ, the SEC, other government agencies, and six states. The remaining $7 billion will be paid in the form of aid to struggling consumers. This is the largest settlement between the U.S. and just one company. It resolves claims not just against Bank of America, but also against its current and past subsidiaries, including Merrill Lynch and Countrywide Financial Corporation.

The numerous probes now resolved involve the packaging, sale, marketing, structuring, and issuance of collateralized debt obligations and residential mortgage-backed securities, as well as mortgage loan origination and underwriting practices. As part of the settlement, the bank issued a statement of facts acknowledging that it did not disclose key information to investors about the quality of billions of dollars of RMBS that it sold to them. When the securities failed, investors, including financial institutions that were federally insured, lost billions of dollars. Bank of America acknowledges that it originated mortgage loans that were high-risk and made misrepresentations about the loans to the Federal Housing Administration, Freddie Mac, and Fannie Mae.

Merrill Lynch and Countrywide made a lot of the loans at issue before Bank of America purchased both entities in 2008. However, the government also had a problem with Bank of America’s own mortgage securities, as well as the latter's attempts to circumvent internal underwriting standards by revising the financial data of applicants.

The bank is just one of several lenders accused of knowingly giving credit to borrowers who couldn’t afford the loans and then selling the mortgages to investors. When borrowers defaulted on the loans, they went into foreclosure. This cost investors big time.

As part of the settlement, the bank will pay $5 billion to settle the DOJ claims under the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act. The deal also settles securities claims by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the states of Illinois, California, Kentucky, Delaware, Maryland, New York, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina. The relief to consumers will include principal reduction loan modifications, new loans to credit worthy borrowers, money to help communities still recouping from the financial crisis, and the financing of affordable rental housing.

Meantime, prosecutors in Los Angeles, California are getting ready to file civil charges against former countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo and other ex-Countrywide executives. The DOJ dropped its criminal probe of Mozilo three years ago. Still, others have sought to hold him responsible for his involvement in the way the mortgages were handled. In 2010 the SEC ordered Mozilo to pay $67.5 million to settle allegations that he misled Countrywide investors. The deal allowed him to avoid going to trial on civil fraud and insider trading charges. Now, also invoking FIRREA, the U.S. attorney’s office in LA is getting ready to sue Mozilo and others.

Bank of America settles mortgage probes for $16.65 billion, Reuters, August 21, 2014

Deal Done: Bank of America, Justice sign $16.7 billion deal over bad mortgages, BizJournals, August 21, 2014

Countrywide CEO Mozilo settles with SEC for $67.5M, The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor/AP, October 15, 2010

Countrywide’s Mozilo Said to Face U.S. Suit Over Loans, Bloomberg, August 20, 2014


More Blog Posts:

Bank of America, Its Ex-CEO To Pay $25M to Settle Securities Case with NY Over Merrill Lynch Deal, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, March 31, 2014

Bank of America Settles Mortgage Bond Claims with FHFA for $9.3B
, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, March 29, 2014

Bank of America’s $8.5B Mortgage Bond Settlement Gets Court Approval, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, January 31, 2014

July 31, 2014

Bank of America’s Countrywide Must Pay $1.3B for Faulty Mortgage Loans

U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan is ordering Countrywide, a Bank of America (BAC) unit, to pay $1.3 billion in penalties for faulty mortgage loans that it sold to Freddie Mac (FMCC) and Fannie Mae (FNMA) leading up to the 2008 financial meltdown. This was the first mortgage fraud lawsuit that the federal government brought to go to trial.

The penalty is much less than the $2.1 billion maximum that the government had asked for. The government’s mortgage lawsuit against Countrywide originated from a whistleblower case brought against Bank of America by Edward O’Donnell, an ex-Countrywide executive.

Rakoff determined that Freddie and Fannie paid close to $3 billion for High Speed Swim Lane loans. This, after a jury determined last year Countrywide and Rebecca Mairone, one of its ex-executives, were liable for selling thousands of defective loans to the government-sponsored enterprises. Mairone’s penalty is $1 million.

During the trial, the government argued that Countrywide misrepresented risky loans it processed through the HSSL program, also known as “Hustle,” as being investment quality when in fact they bad loans were issued. The misrepresentations took place in 2007 and 2008. Loans were purportedly handled swiftly, and quality was not a priority.

The HSSL program tied bonuses to how rapidly bankers could originate the loans. Federal prosecutors said that this caused Countrywide to bring in loan processors who lacked the proper qualifications and experience and break down internal controls that should have weeded out high risk borrowers.

Rakoff called the fraud by the defendants “brazen," driven by “profits,” and having no regard for the harm inflicted that was inflicted on others. He wrote that even though there were reports internally at Countrywide indicating that the quality of the loans were deteriorating, and employees were vocal about concerns, the lender proceeded to put even more pressure on loan specialties to disregard their worries.

Rakoff said he decided on the bank’s penalty according to how much Freddie and Fannie paid for the mortgages that were proven defective—about 42% of over 17,600 loans. Bank of America has until September 2 to pay. It had argued that it shouldn’t have to pay the penalties, or at least no more than $1.1 million under the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act. Meantime, Mairone will pay her penalty in installments.

Meantime, the impasse between the bank and the U.S. Justice Department over the latter’s mortgage securities investigation remains. The two parties are at odds over whether Bank of America should pay a penalty for alleged wrongdoing by Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. and Countrywide before the bank owned both. The amount Bank of America is expected to pay to resolve the probe is at least $13 billion. The monies are expected to consist of cash and consumer relief.

Bank of America’s Countrywide Ordered to Pay $1.3 Billion, Bloomberg, July 30, 2014

Judge Orders Bank of America to Pay $1.27 Billion in 'Hustle' Case, The Wall Street Journal, July 30, 2014


More Blog Posts:
SEC Gets Nearly $70M Judgment Against Richmond, VA Firms, CEO Find Liable for Securities Fraud, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, August 5, 2014

Investors Pursue UBS's Puerto Rico Brokerage Over Closed-End Bond Funds, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, July 23, 2014

Deutsche Bank, UBS Being Probed Over Dark Pools & High-Frequency Trading, While An Investor Sue Barclays, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, July 30, 2014

July 18, 2014

Bank of America Settles RMBS Allegations with AIG for $650M

Bank of America Corp. (BAC) has paid American International Group Inc. (AIG) $650 million to settle residential mortgage-backed securities fraud claims. The insurer had originally asked for $10 billion when it filed its RMBS fraud lawsuit in 2011.

According to the complaint, Bank of America’s mortgage company Countrywide Financial, misrepresented the quality of mortgage securities it was selling to investors. The settlement resolves the securities fraud litigation brought by the insurer against the bank. This includes lawsuits in California and New York accusing Bank of America of fraudulently causing billions of dollars in losses.

It also takes away the largest obstacle to Bank of America’s $8.5 billion mortgage securities settlement with institutional investors over the financial instruments that Countrywide issued. The investors in that case are 22 institutions, including BlackRock Inc. (BLK.N), and MetLife Inc. (MET.N).

AIG had argued that the settlement with the institutional investors did not value its claims. Now, however, the insurer will accept a pro rata share of what the institutional investors get back.

Bank of America like other banks, continues to deal with the fallout from the 2007 financial crisis that led to the housing market’s collapse. It recently resolved a mortgage securities dispute with the Federal Housing Financing Agency that will cost it $9.33 billion. The bank is still in the middle of talks with the Department of Justice over high-risk subprime mortgages involving Countrywide and its Merrill Lynch unit.

The two sides have been able to agree on how much Bank of America should be penalized for mortgage securities that were sold by Countrywide. The bank wants prosecutors to factor in that it tried to get out of the Merrill purchase but felt pressured by regulators to go on with the deal during the financial crisis.

Media sources are reporting that with no resolution in sight, federal prosecutors are preparing to file a mortgage-backed securities case against Bank of America.

If you suspect your company or entity is the victim of institutional investor fraud, contact The SSEK Partners Group today.

Bank of America’s Settlement Negotiations Hit a Snag, NY Times, July 16, 2014

Bank of America Takes $4 Billion Litigation Hit, ABC News, July 16, 2014

BofA pays AIG $650 million to settle mortgage disputes, Reuters, July 16, 2014


More Blog Posts:
Broker Headlines: Former Wells Fargo Broker Must Pay Back Firm $1.2M, Morgan Stanley CEO Wants to Lower Broker Compensation, & Representatives Oppose Best Interest Rules, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, June 13, 2014

Bank of America, Its Ex-CEO To Pay $25M to Settle Securities Case with NY Over Merrill Lynch Deal, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, March 31, 2014

Citigroup Settles Mortgage-Backed Securities Probe with DOJ for $7 Billion, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, July 14, 2014

July 2, 2014

US Supreme Court Will Hear Appeal Over Libor Antitrust Claims

The United States Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal in Ellen Gelboim et al v. Bank of America Corp. The lawsuit was filed by bond investors who lost money in securities tied to the London Interbank Offered Rate and the manipulation of the global benchmark interest rate. Now, the nation’s highest court is granting their request to let their claims go forward and will hold oral arguments on the lawsuit during its next term.

For the last three years, different kinds of investors have filed numerous securities fraud cases against the largest banks in the world claiming that they manipulated Libor. Last year, a district court judge allowed investors to pursue certain claims but threw out their antitrust claims.

Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald said that the settling of Libor was not competitive but, rather, cooperative; it involved banks providing data to a trade group that established the rate. Plaintiffs therefore could not prove that anticompetitive behavior harmed them.

However, a group of bond investors whose claims only had to do with antitrust violations filed an appeal to Buchwald’s ruling with the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. That court threw out the appeal over lack of appellate jurisdiction. The reason for this, said the 2nd circuit, was that the district court did not dismiss all related consolidated complaints.

The investors then went to the Supreme Court. They noted that appeals courts are split over if and when dismissing a consolidated action is an “appealable final order.” The investors believed that their Libor lawsuit was the “ideal” one for resolving this divide.

Also last month, Judge Buchwald ruled that Eurodollar futures traders could accuse Rabobank Group and Barclays Plc (BARC) of using Libor to obtain trading advantages. Buchwald granted the traders request to include these claims in their securities lawsuit.

The plaintiffs are investments funds. They claim that banks, including Citigroup Inc. (C), Credit Suisse Group AG (CSGN), and Bank of America (BAC), artificially suppressed the rate to conceal the risie in borrowing costs. Buchwald said that the funds could argue that they either didn’t earn enough for selling Eurodollar futures contracts on certain dates or they paid too much for them. Their lawsuit is one of a multitude of lawsuits that interrelated and claim that banks acted to depress Libor.

Buchwald however, dismissed Societe Generale SA (GLE) as a defendant. She said that the allegations against the bank were submitted too late. She noted that the plaintiffs must still contend with numerous obstacles, including showing that actual damages resulted because of the banks’ “improper conduct.”

Please contact our securities fraud lawyers today so we can help you determine whether you have reason to pursue a claim. The assessment is free.

Eurodollar Traders Can Revise Libor Manipulation Claims, Bloomberg, June 24, 2014

U.S. Supreme Court to hear Libor antitrust appeal, Reuters, June 30, 2014


More Blog Posts:
R.P. Martin To Pay $2.2M in Libor Rigging, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, May 22, 2014

Barclays Settles Two Libor-Related Securities Cases, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, April 16, 2014

Deutsche Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland Settle & Others for More than $2.3B with European Union Over Interbank Offered Rates, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, December 24, 2013

June 21, 2014

Bank of America Must Face SEC and Department of Justice RMBS Fraud Lawsuits, Seeks Meeting with US Attorney General

In North Carolina, U.S. District Judge Max O. Cogburn Jr. said that Bank of America Corp. (BAC) would have to face government two residential mortgage-backed securities lawsuits. The Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice contend that the bank misled investors about the quality of loans tied to $850 million in RMBS.

Bank of America wanted the cases dismissed. It argued that the investors, both financial institutions, never sued the bank.

Judge Cogburn, however, found that the SEC’s lawsuit properly laid out that the bank lied about the mortgages’ projected health in its RMBS fraud case. With the DOJ’s case, he gave the department 30 days to revise its securities lawsuit. He found that the Justice Department did not properly state its argument, which was that bank documents included false statements while leaving out key facts.

According to both plaintiffs, Bank of America failed to let investors know in preliminary documents that the majority of its mortgages were obtained via wholesale markets that bank executives did not think very highly off. The bank is also accused of not submitting the flawed documents to the Commission.

The DOJ invoked a law that lets the government punish for acts that are too old to be covered under other laws and also push for bigger awards. The government claims that as the lender Bank of America made it seem as if its bonds were backed by prime loans that had staff approval when really the riskiest loans came from external brokers.

Meantime, Bank of America continues to battle other claims related to mortgage securities. This week, bank officials asked for a meeting between its top executives and U.S. Attorney General Erica Holder to talk about a potential multibillion-dollar settlement over mortgage-backed securities. At issue is the way the bank handled MBSs leading up to the financial crisis. Bank of America is expected to pay at least $12 billion to settle civil investigations brought by the DOJ and a number of states.

However, there is one securities case that just took a positive turn in Bank of America’s favor. On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Barbara Rothstein vacated her order from last year that dismissed the bank’s case against the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Bank of America is suing FDIC over $1.7 billion in client losses related to a mortgage-fraud scam at former lender Taylor Bean & Whitaker Mortgage Corp. The fraud took place from 2002 through 2009 when Taylor Bean Chairman Lee Farkas sold over $1.5 billion in bogus mortgage loans to Colonial Bank while diverting over $1.5 billion from Ocala funding.

Bank of America claims that when assessing Colonial Bank's receivership funds the FDIC did not follow procedures. Judge Rothstein has now withdrawn her earlier finding that there are sufficient assets in Colonial Bank’s receivership to pay general unsecured creditors.

Our RMBS fraud law firm represents institutional investors and high net worth individuals. Contact The SSEK Partners Group today.

Bank of America Requests Meeting With Attorney General, The Wall Street Journal, June 20, 2014

BofA FDIC Suit for $1.7 Billion Investor Losses Revived, Bloomberg, June 20, 2014

BofA must face mortgage-securities fraud lawsuits, Crains New York, June 20, 2014


More Blog Posts:
Massachusetts Files Lawsuit Against Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and FHFA, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, June 2, 2014

Bank of America, Its Ex-CEO To Pay $25M to Settle Securities Case with NY Over Merrill Lynch Deal, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, March 31, 2014

FINRA Orders Merrill Lynch to Repay $89M in Restitution, $8M Fine for Excessive Mutual Fund Fees for Charities, Retirement Accounts, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, June 17, 2014

June 17, 2014

FINRA Orders Merrill Lynch to Repay $89M in Restitution, $8M Fine for Excessive Mutual Fund Fees for Charities, Retirement Accounts

FINRA says Bank of America (BAC) Merrill Lynch failed to waive mutual fund sales charges for a number of retirement accounts and charities. Now the wirehouse must pay as restitution $89 million and a fine of $8 million. The firm settled without denying or admitting to the findings.

The majority of mutual funds with the firm’s retail platform are supposed waive specific fees for charities and retirement plans that qualify for this consideration. However, Merrill Lynch neglected to ensure that its advisers were correctly implementing these waivers. This impacted 41,000 accounts.

The SRO says that from about ’06 – ’11, firm advisers put tens of thousands of accounts into certain funds, including Class A mutual fund shares, and promised to waive specific sales charges for charities and retirement accounts. It then did not act to ensure that all of the fees were actually waived.

In a statement, FINRA said that Merrill Lynch’s formal procedures don’t offer enough guidance or information about these waivers. Even when the firm found out that the waivers weren’t implemented in all eligible accounts, it still depended on its advisers to waive the fees. The regulator believes that Merrill Lynch did not properly supervise the sales nor did it notify or train its staff that there might be less costly alternatives they could offer investors.

A spokesman for Bank of America Merrill Lynch said the issue is a legacy one from prior to the merging of Bank of America with Merrill Lynch Pierce Fenner & Smith Inc. The discrepancy was discovered after the acquisition. FINRA said that even though the firm discovered the problem as early as in 2006, it did not notify the SRO about it until 2011.

Investors have already been repaid $65 million of the $89 million in restitution. $21.2 million will go to some 13,000 small business retirement accounts. More than 2.1 million 403(B) retirement accounts will get $3.2 million.

Please contact the SSEK Partners Group today.


Finra tags Merrill Lynch with $8 million fine for mutual fund sales charges
, Investment News, June 16, 2014

FINRA Fines Merrill Lynch $8 Million; Over $89 Million Repaid to Retirement Accounts and Charities Overcharged for Mutual Funds, FINRA, June 16, 2014


More Blog Posts:
FINRA Headlines: SRO Fines Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, and Barclays Capital $1M Each & Makes Dark Pool Data Available, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, June 7, 2014

NY Hedge Fund Adviser Faces SEC Charges Over Conflicted Transactions and Whistleblower Retaliation, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, June 16, 2014

Ex-ArthroCare CEO and CFO Convicted in Texas Securities Fraud Case, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, June 11, 2014

June 7, 2014

Bank of America Could Settle Mortgage Probes for $12B

According to The Wall Street Journal, Bank of America Corp. (BAC) is in negotiations to settle the mortgage probes by the U.S. Department of Justice and several states for at least $12 billion. The bank has been under investigation over the sale, underwriting and securitization of residential mortgage bonds from prior to the 2008 financial crisis.

At least $5 billion would go to consumer relief as help for homeowners to lower their principals, as well as pay blight removal in certain neighborhoods. Already, BofA has agreed to pay $6 billion to settle with the Federal House Finance Agency related to residential mortgage backed securities that were purchased by Freddie Mac (FMCC) and Fannie Mae (FNMA) between 2005 and 2007. That case also involved allegations made against the bank’s Merrill Lynch and Countrywide Financial Group.

However, government negotiators are pressing BofA to pay billions of dollars more than $12B in this case. If a deal isn’t struck, the US Department of Justice may opt to file a civil lawsuit against the bank.

According to some analysts, Bank of America and its subsidiaries put out about $965 billion in private-label MBSs between 2004 and 2008. A lot of the mortgage-backed securities were made by Countrywide, which BofA acquired in 2008.

Last month, Michael P. Stephens, Acting Inspector General of the Federal Housing Finance Authority, said that there are still over a dozen mortgage bond investigations ongoing that will ultimately cost financial companies billions of dollars. He also said that contrary to media complaints that executives linked to the mortgage crisis have not been pursued, hundreds have been indicted and convicted for mortgage fraud.

Recently, ex-Goldman Sachs (GS) trader Fabrice Tourre said he wouldn’t file an appeal in the SEC case against him that he lost. The Commission accused Tourre of involvement in a mortgage-backed securities fraud scam that collapsed during the financial crisis. The fraud centered around the Abacus, 2007-AC1, a synthetic collateralized debt obligation made up of bundled RMBSs.

A district court judge entered a final judgment against Tourre earlier this year. Tourre has been ordered to pay $650,000. He was told to disgorge $175,463 and pay over $31,000 in prejudgment interest.

A settlement with Bank of America could potentially eclipse the $13 billion reached between JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and a number of government authorities late last year. That deal included $4 billion in assistance to beleaguered homeowners and $9 billion in payments. The settlement also took care of government civil claims over RMBS sales made by the firm and Washington Mutual, which it acquired, prior to 2009. JPMorgan also agreed to pay Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae $5.1 million over mortgage-backed securities losses.

BofA in Talks to Pay At Least $12 Billion to Settle Probes, The Wall Street Journal, June 5, 2014

Billions More in Mortgage Penalties Coming: Federal Regulator
, The Street, May 21, 2014

Former Goldman Trader Tourre Says He Will Not Appeal, The NY Times, May 27, 2014


More Blog Posts:
Bank of America, Its Ex-CEO To Pay $25M to Settle Securities Case with NY Over Merrill Lynch Deal, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, March 31, 2014

$500M MBS Settlement Reached Between Countrywide and Investors, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, May 10, 2014

Bank of America Ordered to Hold Off Giving Back Money To Shareholders After Incorrectly Reporting $4B in Capital, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, May 5, 2014

May 5, 2014

Bank of America Ordered to Hold Off Giving Back Money To Shareholders After Incorrectly Reporting $4B in Capital

The Federal Reserve says that for now Bank of America (BAC) has to suspend its plans to give money back to shareholders because it did not correctly report capital ratios on recent stress tests. The mistake was a result of an "incorrect adjustment" connected to bad debts that the bank took on during the Merrill Lynch acquisition several years ago. This blunder caused Bank of America to report $4 billion more capital on its books than what actually exists.

The bank got $60 billion in structured notes as part of the Merrill deal. Because it did not lower its capital to factor in the losses related to the notes, the amount of capital was erroneously boosted.

Before the error became known, the Fed granted permission for the bank to up its quarterly dividend for the first time since the economic crisis. It also said BofA could repurchase $4 billion of stock. Now, BofA will have to develop a new capital plan.

According to The Wall Street Journal, legal experts say that the mistake could expose the bank to false reporting fines. (Right now, however, it doesn’t look like Bank of America turned the incorrect data in on purpose.) Upon announcing the snafu, the bank provided correct numbers for capital up to as far back as 2013’s first quarter.

If there were to be a penalty and all the time from then to the discovery of the error were factored in, the penalty could be $788,000 (perhaps even $3-4 million if the time considered were to stretch far back as 2009, which is when the bank started using the calculation method that resulted in the recent mistake). The Fed said it doesn’t plan to file an enforcement action against the bank over the blunder.

The news prompted BofA shares to drop last week. The mistake comes at a time that the bank is trying to enhance its credibility and its business. (Just last month, it announced that litigation costs tied to its settlement with the Federal Housing Finance Agency was about $6 billion.)

The “Stress Test”
This process is supposed to make sure that banks have enough capital available in the event of a bad recession. This has allowed the Fed to monitor how much capital banks give to shareholders as opposed to dividend increase and stock buybacks. This year, Citigroup’s (C) capital plan was rejected because of a number of deficiencies.

At the SSEK Partners Group, we represent partnerships, private foundations, corporations, large trusts, financial firms, banks, charitable organizations, school districts, municipalities, and high net worth individuals that need to recover their securities fraud losses. Contact our institutional investor fraud lawyers today.

Is Bank of America’s $4 billion blunder proof it’s too big?, CBS News, April 29, 2014

Bank of America's big math error, CNNMoney, April 28, 2014

Stress Test and Capital Planning, Federal Reserve


More Blog Posts:
Bank of America, Its Ex-CEO To Pay $25M to Settle Securities Case with NY Over Merrill Lynch Deal, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, March 31, 2014

Bank of America Settles Mortgage Bond Claims with FHFA for $9.3B, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, March 29, 2014

Citigroup and Royal Bank of Scotland Fail Federal Stress Test, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, March 26, 2014

April 26, 2014

Ex-Bank of America CFO to Pay $7.5M to Settle with NY Over Merrill Lynch Acquisition Allegations

Joe Price, the ex-chief finance officer of Bank of America Corp. (BAC) has consented to pay $7.5 million to settle allegations by the state of New York that the bank and its ex-executives misled investors over losses that were happening at Merrill Lynch even as shareholders were getting ready to approve its acquisition by the bank.

Bank of America’s decision to purchase Merrill as Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. was collapsing was initially seen by many as a positive. However, after the deal was made public and Merrill’s problems soon became known, speculation over how much information was kept from those approving the deal mounted.

The state contended that Bank of America misled shareholders about Merrill’s losses to get the $18.5 billion deal approved. They then got the federal government to contribute bailout money from the Troubled Asset Relief Program to complete the sale. The bank has since become the subject of regulatory investigations and securities lawsuits over their actions. It even consented to pay $2.43 billion in 2012 to resolve a class action securities fraud case filed by investors over the Merrill acquisition. Settlements in total have to date surpassed $50 billion.

In Price’s agreement, reached with New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, he is not denying or agreeing to the allegations of wrongdoing. He did consent to an 18-month bar from serving as a director or officer of a public company for 18 months. Bank of America will pay the costs for Price.

Just last month, Bank of America and its ex-Chairman Kenneth Lewis reached a $25 million settlement with New York, also over allegations they misled investors about the Merrill buy. The bank will pay $15 million while Lewis will pay $10 million and abide by a three-year ban from serving as a director or officer of a public company. The bank will also cover Lewis’s share of the settlement.

In other Bank of America-related news, at, Douglas Campbell, one of its ex-senior vice presidents who became a cooperating witness in the federal government’s bid-rigging investigation. will not be going to jail. As part of his deal with the government, Campbell had pleaded guilty to wire fraud, conspiracy to restrain trade, and conspiracy in 2010.

The U.S. Department of Justice accused Campbell of taking part in a municipal bond bid rigging scheme for several years that involved working out with other scammers ahead of time who would win bids on municipal contracts and investment agreements that CDR Financial Products had brokered. He would purposely turn in bids to CDR that he knew would lose.

Bank of America settled allegations by the US and state governments for $137.3 million. Settlements were also reached with UBS (UBS), Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC), JPMorgan Chase and Co (JPM)., and General Electric Co.

The SSEK Partners Group is an institutional investor fraud law firm.

Ex-Bank of America employee avoids punishment in bid rigging case, Reuters, April 22, 2014

BofA Ex-CFO Settles Merrill Case With New York, The Wall Street Journal, April 24, 2014

Lewis, BofA Reach $25 Million Pact With N.Y. Over Merrill, Bloomberg, March 26, 2014


More Blog Posts:
U.S. Wants Bank of America to Pay Over $13B Over Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, April 24, 2014

Bank of America, Its Ex-CEO To Pay $25M to Settle Securities Case with NY Over Merrill Lynch Deal, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, March 31, 2013

$500M MBS Settlement Reached Between Countrywide and Investors, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, May 10, 2013

April 24, 2014

U.S. Wants Bank of America to Pay Over $13B Over Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities

Bloomberg is reporting that U.S. prosecutors want Bank of America Corp. (BAC) to settle state and federal investigations into the lender’s sale of home loan-backed bonds leading up to the 2008 financial crisis by paying over $13 billion. The bank is one of at least eight financial institutions that the Department of Justice and state attorneys general are investigating for misleading investors about the quality of the loans that were backing mortgages just as housing prices fell.

A lot of Bank of America’s loans came from its purchase of Countrywide Financial Corp., a subprime lender, and Merrill Lynch & Co., which packaged a lot of the loans into bonds.
If there ends up being no deal, the government could sue the bank.

A settlement of more than $13 billion would be even larger than the $13 billion global settlement reached with JPMorgan Chase (JPM) over similar claims (including a $4 billion agreement with the Federal Housing Finance Agency). Included in that deal was resolution over loans the firm took over when it bought Bear Stearns Cos. and Washington Mutual Inc.
(WAMUQ)

Already, claims against Bank of America over mortgages related to the financial crisis have cost it at least $50 million to resolve. Just last month, the bank agreed to settle claims made by the FHFA for $9.5 billion. That case was related to mortgage-backed securities that it sold to Freddie Mac (FMCC) and Fannie Mae (FNMA) prior to the economic crisis.

In its latest first quarter, Bank of America disclosed to investors that not not only did it sustain a $276 million loss but also it paid $6 billion in legal costs related to the financial crisis. Other big mortgage cases against the bank are still pending.

Our RMBS fraud lawyers represent institutional clients and high net worth investors. Contact The SSEK Partners Group today.

U.S. Said to Ask BofA for More Than $13 Billion Over RMBS, Bloomberg, April 24, 2014

Bank of America, Weighed by Legal Costs, Posts Loss, NY Times, April 16, 2014

Fannie, Freddie, FHFA settle MBS lawsuit with BofA, Housing Wire, March 26, 2014


More Blog Posts:
Bank of America, Its Ex-CEO To Pay $25M to Settle Securities Case with NY Over Merrill Lynch Deal, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, March 31, 2013

Bank of America Settles Mortgage Bond Claims with FHFA for $9.3B, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, March 29, 2014

Bank of America’s $8.5B Mortgage Bond Settlement Gets Court Approval, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, January 31, 2014

March 29, 2014

Bank of America Settles Mortgage Bond Claims with FHFA for $9.3B

Bank of America (BAC) will pay $9.3 billion to settle securities claims that it sold faulty mortgage bonds to Freddie Mac (FMCC) and Fannie Mae (FNMA). The deal, reached with the Federal Housing Finance Agency, includes $3.2 billion in securities that the bank will buy from the housing finance entities and a cash payment of $6.3 billion.

The mortgage bond settlement resolves securities lawsuits against the bank, Countrywide, and Merrill Lynch (MER). FHFA, which regulates both Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, accused Bank of America of misrepresenting the quality of the loans behind residential mortgage-backed securities that the mortgage financing companies purchased between 2005 and 2007.

This is the 10th of 18 securities lawsuits reached by the FHFA over litigation involving around $200 billion in mortgage-backed securities. To date, it has gotten back over $10 billion over such claims.

During the housing boom, Freddie and Fannie bought privately issued securities in the form of investments and became two of the biggest bond investors. The US Treasury was forced to rescue the two entities in 2008 as their mortgage losses grew.

Also, Bank of America and its ex-CEO Kenneth Lewis have settled for $25 million a NY mortgage lawsuit accusing them of deceiving investors about the firm’s acquisition of Merrill Lynch. The state’s Attorney General Eric Schneiderman accused Lewis of hiding Merrill’s growing losses from Bank of America shareholders before the merger vote in 2008 and getting the US government to give over another $20 billion in bailout money by making false claims that he would step out of the merger without the funds. Another defendant, ex-CFO Joe Price, has not settled yet.

NY officials had sued Bank of America, Lewis, and Price under its Martin Act. The US Securities and Exchange Commission also sued the bank over Merrill losses and bonus disclosures. That securities lawsuit was settled for $150 million. Another case, a shareholder class action lawsuit, was settled for $2.43 billion.

Contact our mortgage-backed securities lawyers if you suspect you may have been the victim of securities fraud.

Bank of America to Pay $9.5 Billion to Resolve FHFA Claims, The Wall Street Journal, March 26, 2014


Bank of America to pay $9.3 billion to settle mortgage bond claims, Reuters, March 26, 2014

Federal Housing Finance Agency


More Blog Posts:
$500M MBS Settlement Reached Between Countrywide and Investors, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, May 10, 2013

Bank of America and Countrywide Financial Sued by Allstate over $700M in Bad Mortgage-Backed Securities, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, December 29, 2010

Bank of America’s $8.5B Mortgage Bond Settlement Gets Court Approval, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, January 31, 2014

March 4, 2014

Detroit, MI to Pay UBS and Bank America $85M Over Interest Swaps Settlement

The city of Detroit has agreed to pay Bank of America Corp.’s (BAC) Merrill Lynch (MER) and UBS AG (UBSN) $85 million as part of a settlement to end interest-rate swaps, which taxpayers have had to pay over $200 million for in the last four years. Now, US Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes must decide whether to approve the deal.

The swaps involved are connected to pension obligation bonds that were issued in ’05 and ’06. They were supposed to protect the city from interest rates going up by making banks pay Detroit if the rates went above a certain level. Instead, the rates went down, and Detroit has owed payments each month.

Under the swaps deal, the city owed $288 million. The settlement reduces the amount by 70%, which should help, as Detroit had to file for protection last year over its $18 billion bankruptcy.

The decision by the banks to support the settlement grants the city the legal authority to ask Judge Rhodes to implement its restructuring plan despite creditors’ objections. However, according to Detroit’s legal team, which submitted a in a court filing, the city won’t necessarily choose to exercise that option.

The swaps agreement, however, will liberate more funds so that Detroit has the ability to make more consensual deals with creditors. If a deal had not been reached, the city might sued Bank of America and UBS to protect its casino tax revenues, which are collateral for the interest-rate swaps.

It was just in January that Judge Rhodes rejected another proposed deal. Detroit had proposed to pay $175 million—a 43% reduction from the obligation it owed. Rhodes, however, said the price was too high for the city. However, the judge said that it would be better for the city to settle than get embroiled in expensive litigation. Judge Rhodes had also rejected an earlier proposed agreement, in which the city would have paid $230 million.

Now, seeking Rhodes approval once more, Detroit submitted its filing arguing that the deal with Merrill Lynch Capital Services and UBS could help it gain the federal court approval needed for a plan to leave bankruptcy and deal with its debt.

Please contact The SSEK Partners Group if you suspect that you were the victim of financial fraud. Our securities lawyers work with high net worth individuals and institutional clients.

Detroit reaches settlement over controversial debt deal, USA Today, March 4, 2014

U.S. judge rejects deal to end Detroit rate swap accords, Reuters, January 16, 2014


More Blog Posts:
Detroit Becomes Largest US City to File Bankruptcy Protection, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, July 18, 2013

Lehman Makes Deal with SAP Founder, Frees Up Another $1.8B for Creditors, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, February 27, 2014

Puerto Rico Senate Votes to Sell $3.5B in Bonds, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, February 28, 2014

February 12, 2014

Ex-Bank of America Corp. Executive Enters Guilty Plea in Municipal Bond Rigging Scam

Phillip D. Murphy, an ex-Bank of America Corp. (BAC) executive that used to run the municipal derivatives desk there, has pleaded guilty to wire fraud and conspiracy charges in a muni bond rigging case accusing him of conspiring to bilk the US government and bond investors. In federal court, he admitted to manipulating the bidding process involving investment agreements having to do with municipal bond proceeds.

The illegal activity was self-reported by his former employer. Bank of America has been cooperating with prosecutors that have accused bankers of paying kickbacks to CDR Financial Products to fix bids on investment contracts purchased by local governments. The contracts were bought using money from bond sales.

According to the indictments, from 1998 to 2006, Murphy and CDR officials conspired to up the amount and profitability of investment deals and municipal finance contracts that went to Bank of America. Murphy purportedly won actions for certain contracts after other banks consented to purposely turn in losing bids.

Prosecutors say that brokers that took care of the bidding gave insider information to bankers who were favored. “Fees” for derivative transactions, which were actually kickbacks, were paid.

For example, in 2001, CDR set it up for another bank to turn in a bid that was certain to lose so that “financial institution A,” which is how the company was referred to in the indictment, won an investment contract for J. David Gladstone Institutes. Murphy, in return, paid CDR a $70K kickback that was supposedly a fee connected to a swap that was not related to the deal for a contract with J. David Gladstone Institutes.

David Rubin, the founder of CDR, has also pleaded guilty in connection to the bid rigging scam.

Please contact our securities lawyers at The SSEK Partners Group if you suspect that you were the victim of municipal bond fraud.

Ex-BofA Executive Pleads Guilty in Muni Bond Rigging Case, Bloomberg, February 10, 2013

David Rubin Pleads Guilty in Muni-Bond Trial, The Wall Street Journal, December 30, 2011


More Blog Posts:
$500M MBS Settlement Reached Between Countrywide and Investors, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, May 10, 2013

Standard and Poor’s Reduces Puerto Rico Obligation Debt to Junk Status, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, February 6, 2014

Three Ex-GE Bankers Convicted of Municipal Bond Bid Rigging Are Set Free, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, December 12, 2013

January 31, 2014

Bank of America’s $8.5B Mortgage Bond Settlement Gets Court Approval

A judge has approved an $8.5B mortgage-bond settlement between Bank of America (BAC) and investors. The agreement should settle most of the bank’s liability from when it acquired Countrywide Financial Corp. while the financial crisis was happening and resolves contentions that the loans behind the bonds were not up to par in quality as promised. Included among the 22 investors in the mortgage-bond deal: Pacific Investment Management Co., BlackRock Inc. (BLK), and MetLife Inc. (MET.N). Under the agreement, investors can still go ahead with their loan-modification claims.

The trustee for over 500 residential mortgage-securitization trusts is Bank of New York Mellon Corp. (BK), which had turned in a petition seeking approval for the deal nearly three years ago for investors who had about $174 million of mortgage-backed securities from Countrywide. Now, Judge Barbara Kapnick of the New York State Supreme Court Justice has approved the mortgage-bond deal.

Kapnick believes that the trustee had, for the most part, acted in good faith and reasonably when determining the settlement and whether it was in investors’ best interests. However, she is allowing plaintiffs to continue with their claims related to loan-modification because, she says, Bank of New York Mellon Corp “abused its discretion” on the matter in that even though the trustee purportedly knew about the issue, it didn’t evaluate the possible claims. Also, the judge said that it makes sense for this one-time payment because it was evident that Bank of New York Mellon was worried Countrywide wouldn’t be able to pay a judgment in the future that came close to the $8.5 billion settlement.

Home loans securitized into bonds played a big role in the housing bubble that helped push the US into its largest recession since in decades. As the housing market failed and securities dissolved, investments banks and lenders also were dragged into the crisis.

It was Countrywide as the top securities lender that created $405 billion of the $3.04 trillion of bonds that were sold in the few years leading up to the financial meltdown. Meantime, Bank of America put out $76.9 billion of bonds and Merrill Lynch (MER) and First Franklin issued about $116 billion collectively.

American International Group (AIG), one of the bigger investor in the mortgage bonds, is part of a small group that opposed the settlement with Bank of America. AIG attorneys claim that the settlement shortchanges investors and the trustee should have done more to get a greater sum of money from BofA. The insurer contends that $8.5 billion is not much compared to how much was actually lost.

If you are an institutional investor that has suffered bond or mortgage-backed securities losses, contact The SSEK Partners Group today to speak with one of our securities lawyers.

Court approves Bank of America's $8.5 billion mortgage settlement, Reuters, January 31, 2014

Bank of America Settlement on Bonds That Soured Is Approved, NY Times, January 31, 2014


More Blog Posts:
$500M MBS Settlement Reached Between Countrywide and Investors, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, May 10, 2013

FDIC Objects to Bank of America’s Proposed $8.5B Settlement Over Mortgage-Backed Securities, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, August 30, 2011

Bank of America’s Countrywide to Pay $17.3M RMBS Settlement to Massachusetts, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, December 30, 2013

January 21, 2014

Detroit, MI Can’t Pay $165M to UBS & Bank of America For Swaps Deal, Rules Judge

A bankruptcy judge says is refusing to grant the city of Detroit, MI permission to pay $165 million to Bank of America (BA) and UBS AG (UBS) to end an interest-rate swaps deal that taxpayers have been paying $202 million for since 2009. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes says the payment, in addition to a fee of over $4 million, is too costly for the beleaguered city.

Rhodes said he doesn’t believe it is in the city’s best interests to make this deal. Detroit filed the biggest municipal bankruptcy in US history due to its $18 billion debt. Prior to seeking bankruptcy protection, the city had arrived at a deal to terminate the swaps contract that it had signed with Bank of America unit Merrill Lynch (MER), UBS, and SBS Financial Products Co. for $230 million.

According to their 2009 deal, the banks are entitled to seek control of Detroit’s casino taxes, which the city pledged as cash to UBS and Bank of America. Now, Detroit may have to submit an emergency motion asking the court to protect the cash so that the banks don’t take the funds.

UBS and Bank of America contend that their swaps claims are protected under the US Bankruptcy Code’s safe harbor provisions, which make it easier for creditors to seize certain collateral when a debtor goes into bankruptcy.

Detroit wanted to buy out the swaps contracts to avoid a lawsuit and free up the casino taxes, which is a huge source of revenue for it. Last month, a deal was reached to terminate the contract for $165 million. The city asked Rhodes to approve a $285 million loan for this, but the court only approved $120 million, which are to go toward city services.

The SSEK Partners Group is an institutional investor fraud law firm that represents institutions and high net worth individuals with fraud claims against members of the securities industry. Contact our securities lawyers today.

Detroit's available cash drying up more slowly than feared: report, Chicago Tribune/Reuters, January 21, 2014

Detroit files for bankruptcy protection, USA Today, July 18, 2013


More Blog Posts:

Detroit Becomes Largest US City to File Bankruptcy Protection, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, July 18, 2013

RCS Capital Corp to Buy Brokerage Firm J.P. Turner for $27 Million & Cetera Financial for $1.15B, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, January 18, 2014

How UBS Breached Its Duties with Puerto Rico Bond Funds, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, January 17, 2014

December 30, 2013

Bank of America’s Countrywide to Pay $17.3M RMBS Settlement to Massachusetts

According to Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, Countrywide Securities Corp. (CFC) will pay $17 million to settle residential mortgage backed securities claims. The settlement includes $6 million to be paid to the Commonwealth and $11.3 million to investors with the Pension Reserves Investment Management Board. Countrywide is a Bank of America (BAC) unit.

Coakley’s office was the first in the US to start probing and pursuing Wall Street securitization firms for their involvement in the subprime mortgage crisis. Other RMBS settlements Massachusetts has reached include: $34M from JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), $36M from Barclays Bank (ADR), $52 million from Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), $102 million from Morgan Stanley (MS), and $60 million from Goldman Sachs. (GS).

Meantime, a federal judge is expected to rule soon on how much Bank of America will pay in a securities fraud verdict related to the faulty mortgages that Countrywide sold investors. A jury had found the bank and ex-Countrywide executive Rebecca Mairone liable for defrauding Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae via the sale of loans through that banking unit. The US government wants Bank of America to pay $863.6 million in damages. Mairone denies any wrongdoing.

The case focused on "High Speed Swim Lane," a mortgage lending process that rewarded employees for the volume of loans produced rather than the quality. Checkpoints that should have made sure the loans were solid were eliminated.

In other recent Countrywide news, a federal judge has given final approval to Bank of America’s $500 million settlement with investors who say the unit misled them, which is why they even invested in high-risk mortgage debt. A number of investors, including union and public pension funds, said they were given offering documents about home loans backing the securities that they purchased and that the content of this paperwork was misleading. They contend that a lot of securities came with high credit ratings that ended up falling to “junk status” as conditions in the market deteriorated.

This payout is the biggest thus far to resolve federal class action securities litigation involving mortgage-backed securities. The second largest was the $315 million reached with Merrill Lynch (MER), which is also a Bank of America unit. That agreement was approved in 2012.

Also, Bank of America was recently named the defendant in a lawsuit filed by the California city of Los Angeles over allegedly discriminatory lending practices that the plaintiff says played a part in causing foreclosures. LA is also suing Citigroup (C) and Wells Fargo (WFC).

The city says that Bank of America offered “predatory” loan terms that led to discrimination against minority borrowers. This resulted in foreclosures that caused the City’s property-tax revenues to decline. BofA, Wells Fargo, and Citibank have said that the claims are baseless.

AG Coakley Announces $11 Million Payment to State Pension Fund From Settlement with Countrywide Securities Corporation, Mass.gov, December 30, 2013

Bank of America's record $500 million accord over Countrywide wins approval, Chicago Tribune, December 6, 2013

U.S. seeks $864 million from Bank of America after fraud verdict, Reuters, November 9, 2013

Bank of America Added to Los Angeles's Lawsuit, The Wall Street Journal, December 6, 2013


More Blog Posts:
$500M MBS Settlement Reached Between Countrywide and Investors, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, May 10, 2013

New Jersey Files Securities Lawsuit Against Credit Suisse Over $10B in MBS Sales, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, December 20, 2013

AIG Drops RMBS Lawsuit Against New York Fed, Fights Bank of America’s $8.5B MBS Settlement, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, June 5, 2013

December 14, 2013

Fannie Mae Sues UBS, Bank of America, Credit Suisse, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, & Deutsche Bank, & Others for $800M Over Libor

Fannie Mae is suing nine banks over their alleged collusion in manipulating interest rates involving the London Interbank Offered Rate. The defendants are Bank of America (BAC), JPMorgan Chase (JPM), Credit Suisse, UBS (UBS), Deutsche Bank (DB), Citigroup (C), Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays, & Rabobank. The US government controlled-mortgage company wants over $800M in damages.

Regulators here and in Europe have been looking into claims that a lot of banks manipulated Libor and other rate benchmarks to up their profits or seem more financially fit than they actually were. In its securities fraud lawsuit, Fannie Mae contends that the defendants made representations and promises regarding Libor’s legitimacy that were “false” and that this caused the mortgage company to suffer losses in mortgages, swaps, mortgage securities, and other transactions. Fannie May believes that its losses in interest-rate swaps alone were about $332 million.

UBS, Barclays, Rabobank, and Royal Bank of Scotland have already paid over $3.6 billion in fines to settle with regulators and the US Department of Justice to settle similar allegations. The banks admitted that they lowballed their Libor quotes during the 2008 economic crisis so they would come off as more creditworthy and healthier. Individual traders and brokers have also been charged.

Libor
Libor is used to establish interest rates on student loans, derivatives, mortgages, credit card, car loans, and other matters and underpins hundreds of trillions of dollars in transactions. The rates are determined through a process involving banks being polled on borrowing costs in different currencies over different timeframes. Responses are then averaged to determine the rates that become the benchmark for financial products.

Also a defendant in Fannie Mae’s securities case is the British Bankers’ Association, which oversees the process of Libor rate creation.

Earlier this year, government-backed Freddie Mac (FMCC) sued over a dozen large banks and the British Bankers’ Association also for allegedly manipulating interest rates and causing it to lose money on interest-rates swaps. Defendants named by the government-backed home loan mortgage corporation included Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, and UBS.

Freddie Mac Sues Big Banks, The Wall Street Journal, March 19, 2013

Fannie Mae Sues Banks for $800 Million Over Libor Rigging, Bloomberg, November 1, 2013


More Blog Posts:
Sonoma County Files Securities Lawsuit Over Libor Banking Debacle, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, July 2, 2013

Barclays LIBOR Manipulation Scam Places Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan Chase, and UBS Under The Investigation Microscope, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, July 16, 2012

November 8, 2013

AIG Settles Ex-Executive’s $274M Lawsuit Over Alleged Failure to Pay Him During 2008 Economic Crisis

American Insurance Group (AIG) and one of its ex-executives, Kevin Fitzpatrick, have reached a settlement deal over his $274 million lawsuit against the insurer. Fitzpatrick, the former president of the AIG Global Real Estate Investment Corp. unit, claims that his then-employer would not pay him during the 2008 economic crisis. The insurer’s refusal to pay occurred not long after the US government said yes to the first part of what would turn into a $182 billion bailout.

Fitzpatrick, who worked for AIG for 22 years, said that AIG breached agreements it had with him and entities under his control. He claims the agreements entitled him to a share of profits made on the insurer’s real estate investments but that on October 2008 AIG stopped paying him and others who were entitled to profit distributions. Fitzpatrick then quit.

Fitzpatrick sued in 2009, claiming that AIG owed him $274 million and that he wanted interest and punitive damages, which is right around the time that the insurer was trying to get past public disapproval over $165 million in bonuses that were paid to employees in the AIG Financial Products unit. That is the group that handled the complex financial instruments that led to its huge losses.

AIG denied wrongdoing and said that Fitzpatrick was paid what he was owed. The insurer contended that Fitzpatrick actually was fired and that he stole data that was confidential and belonged to the company.

In other AIG-related news, a district court judge just threw out a shareholder lawsuit accusing Bank of America (BAC) of not telling them that the insurer was planning to sue the bank with a $10 billion fraud lawsuit. AIG accused Bank of America of misrepresenting the quality of more than $28 million of MBSs that AIG bought from the latter and its Countrywide and Merrill Lynch (MER) units.

Also, there are reports that AIG might file mortgage-backed securities case against Morgan Stanley (MS) over $3.7 billion of MBS.

Former AIG Real Estate Executive Settles $274 Million Pay Case, Businessweek, November 6, 2013

Morgan Stanley Says AIG May Sue Over Mortgage-Linked Investments, Bloomberg, November 4, 2013

Bank of America wins dismissal of lawsuit on AIG disclosures, Reuters, November 4, 2013


AIG Sued by Its Own Executive as Tragedy Turns to Farce
, CBS, December 10, 2009


More Blog Posts:
Judge Dismisses Shareholder Lawsuit Suing Bank of America For Allegedly Concealing AIG Fraud Case, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, November 6, 2013
Stakeholders With $55M Securities Fraud Case Against Government Over AIG Bailout Get Class Action Certification, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, March 19, 2013

AIG Wants to Stop Former CEO Greenberg From Naming It as a Defendant in Derivatives Lawsuit Against the US, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, April 13, 2013

Continue reading "AIG Settles Ex-Executive’s $274M Lawsuit Over Alleged Failure to Pay Him During 2008 Economic Crisis" »

November 6, 2013

Judge Dismisses Shareholder Lawsuit Suing Bank of America For Allegedly Concealing AIG Fraud Case

A judge has thrown out a securities lawsuit by shareholders accusing Bank of America Corp. (BAC) of concealing that insurer AIG (AIG) intended to file a $10 billion fraud case against it. U.S. District Judge John Koeltl in Manhattan said that BofA and four of its officers were not obligated to reveal in advance that the lawsuit was pending or that it was a large one.

AIG filed its securities fraud lawsuit against Bank of America in 2011. The insurer claimed that the bank misrepresented the quality of over $28 billion of mortgage-backed securities it purchased not just from the bank but also from its Merrill Lynch (MER) and Countrywide units. On the day that the complaint was filed, shares of Bank of America dropped 20.3% and Standard & Poor’s revoked the tripe-A credit rating it had issued.

The shareholder plaintiffs claim that the bank’s officers, including Chief Executive Brian Moynihan, knew about the MBS fraud case six months before the lawsuit was submitted and they should have given them advance warning.

Judge John Koeltl, however, said that the specifics about the securities case did not materially differ from what Bank of America already disclosed in its mortgage exposures. He also determined that the bank did not issue inaccurate or incomplete statements.

AIG’s mortgage-backed securities lawsuit is still pending.

Meantime, the media is reporting that the AIG may be getting ready to file another MBS fraud case, this one against Morgan Stanley (MS). The case would be over the $3.7 billion of mortgage securities that the bank sponsored and underwrote between 2005 to 2007 that AIG then bought. The insurer has submitted a regulatory filing about its plans to possibly file. AIG ended a “tolling agreement” with the firm that would have allowed them to resolve their disagreement outside a courtroom.

Our mortgage-backed securities lawyers represent institutional and individual investors that have sustained financial losses because of securities fraud. Contact our MBS fraud law firm today.

Judge Dismisses Suit Against Bank of America For Not Disclosing AIG Claims, Insurance Journal, November 4, 2013

AIG may sue Morgan Stanley over mortgage securities: SEC filing, Reuters, November 4, 2013


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Why did UBS Financial Advisors Recommend Muni Bonds to Elderly and Retired Investors?, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, November 6, 2013

Two Investment Advisers Sue Twitter for Secondary Market Fraud, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, November 5, 2013

JPMorgan’s Admission to CFTC of “Reckless” Trading Could Lead to More Securities Fraud Case, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, November 4, 2013

August 17, 2013

SEC and DOJ Sue Bank of America Over Alleged $850M RMBS Fraud

Bank of America (BAC) and two subsidiaries are now facing SEC charges for allegedly bilking investors in an residential mortgage-backed securities offering that led to close to $70M in losses and about $50 million in anticipated losses in the future. The US Department of Justice also has filed its securities lawsuit over the same allegations.

In its securities lawsuit, submitted in U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, the Securities and Exchange Commission contends that the bank, Bank of America Mortgage Securities (BOAMS) and Banc of America Securities LLC, which is now known as Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, conducted the RMBS offering, referred to as the the BOAMS 2008-A and valued at $855 million, in 2008. The securities was sold and offered as “prime securitization suitable for the majority of conservative RMBS investors.

However, according to the regulator, Bank of America misled investors about the risks and the mortgages’ underwriting quality while misrepresenting that the mortgage loans backing the RMBS were underwritten in a manner that conformed with the bank’s guidelines. In truth, claims the SEC, the loans included income statements that were not supported, appraisals that were not eligible, owner occupancy-related misrepresentations, and evidence that mortgage fraud was involved. Also, says the regulator, the ratio for original-combined-loan-to-value and debt-to-income was not calculated properly on a regular basis and, even though materially inaccurate, it was provided to the public.

The Commission believes that because there were a material number of loans that were not in compliance with the bank’s underwriting guidelines and concentration of risky wholesale loans were not proportionate, BOAMS 2008-A sustained an 8.05 percent cumulative net loss rate through June of this year, which is the greatest loss of rate of any BOAMS securitization, comparably speaking, and this violated of the Securities Act of 1933.

As for the Justice Department’s RMBS fraud case, which is also a civil suit, the government says that not only did Bank of America lie to investor about the risks, but also it made false statements after purposely not conducting appropriate due diligence and also including in the securitization high-risk mortgages of a disproportionate quantity that were originated via third party mortgage brokers.

This securities lawsuit is part of President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force’s RMBS Working Group’s ongoing initiatives to target misconduct involving this section of the market. U.S. Attorney Tompkins says that now, Bank of America will have to deal with consequences arising from its alleged actions.

The SSEK Partners Group helps institutional investors and others recover their RMBS fraud losses. Contact us today to request your free case assessment. Our securities attorneys have helped thousands of investors recoup their investment losses.

SEC Charges Bank of America With Fraud in RMBS Offering, SEC, August 6, 2013

Department of Justice Sues Bank of America for Defrauding Investors in Connection with Sale of Over $850 Million of Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities, DOJ, August 6, 2013


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Texas Securities Case: SEC Alleges Ponzi Scam Involving Virtual Currency Bitcoin, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, July 28, 2013

Mandatory Securities Arbitration vs. Court? The Debate Rages Past the Quarter-Century Mark, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, July 4, 2013

August 15, 2013

Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase Among Banks Sued by Danish Pension Funds in Credit Default Swaps Lawsuit

In U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Danish pension funds (and their investment manager) Unipension Fondsmaeglerselskab, MP Pension-Pensionskassen for Magistre & Psykologer, Arkitekternes Pensionskasse, and Pensionskassen for Jordbrugsakademikere & Dyrlaeger are suing 12 banks accusing them of conspiring to take charge of access and pricing in the credit derivatives markets. They are claiming antitrust violations while contending that the defendants acted unreasonably to hold back competitors in the credit default swaps market.

The funds believe that the harm suffered by investors as a result was “tens of billions of dollars” worth. They want monetary damages and injunctive relief.

According to the Danish pension funds' credit default swaps case, the defendants inflated profits by taking control of intellectual property rights in the CDS market, blocking would-be exchanges’ entry, and limiting client access to credit-default-swaps prices, and

This securities case comes four years after the US Justice Department acknowledged that it had begun an investigation into possible anticompetitive activities involving credit derivatives clearing, and trading (a probe that is ongoing) and just a few months after the Sheet Metal Workers Local No. 33 Cleveland District Pension Plan sued the banks, Markit, and ISDA also for allegedly taking control of the CDS market, which it says resulted in customers being overcharged some $7 billion annually. The plaintiff contends that there may be billions of dollars in damages and it wants treble damages. Last month, it was the European Commission's turn to claim that 13 banks, ISDA, and Markit worked together to stop CDSs from being able to trade on open exchanges.

If you think you may have been the victim of securities fraud involving credit default swaps, you should speak with one of our experienced CDS fraud lawyers today.

There are over a dozen defendants in the Danish pension funds' CDS fraud case including:

J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. (JPM)
Citigroup Inc. (C)
Morgan Stanley (MS)
Bank of America Corp. (BAC)
• Credit Suisse Group AG (CS)
Deutsche Bank AG (DB)
UBS AG (UBS)
• Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC (RBS)
• Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS)
• Markit Group Ltd, a financial data provider
• International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA)

Pensions Sue Banks Over Credit-Default Swaps, Wall Street Journal, July 12, 2013

Danish funds sue banks in U.S. for blocking CDS exchange-trading, Reuters/Yahoo, July 12, 2013


More Blog Posts:
US Will Likely Arrest Two Ex-JPMorgan Chase Employees Over Trading Losses Related to the London Whale Debacle, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, August 10, 2013

Morgan Stanley Reports a Possible $1.7B in Mortgage-Backed Securities Losses, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, August 16, 2011

8/31/11 is Deadline for Opting Out of $100M Oppenheimer Mutual Funds Class Action Settlement, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, August 17, 2011

July 2, 2013

Sonoma County Files Securities Lawsuit Over Libor Banking Debacle

Sonoma County, CA is suing Citigroup (C), JPMorgan (JPM), Bank of America (BAC), UBS (UBS), Barclays (BCS), and a number of other former and current LIBOR members over the infamous international-rate fixing scandal that it claims caused it to suffer substantial financial losses. The County’s securities lawsuit contends that the defendants made billions of dollars when they understated and overstated borrowing costs and artificially established interest rates.

Sonoma County is one of the latest municipalities in California to sue over what it claims was rate manipulation that led to lower interest payments on investments linked to the London Interbank Offered Rate. Also seeking financial recovery over the LIBOR banking scandal are the Regents of the University of California, San Mateo County, San Diego Association of Governments, East Bay Municipal Utility District, City of Richmond, City of Riverside, San Diego County, and others.

The County of Sonoma is alleging several causes of action, including unjust enrichment, fraud, and antitrust law violations involving transactions that occurred between 2007 and 2010, a timeframe during which Barclays already admitted to engaging in interest manipulation. The county invested $96 million in Libor-type investments in 2007 and $61 million in 2008. Jonathan Kadlec, the Assistant Treasurer at Sonoma County, says that an investigation is ongoing to determine how much of a financial hit was sustained. Kadlec supervises an investment pool that is valued at about $1.5 billion for the county. He said that LIBOR-type investments, which involve floating securities with interests that are index-based, make up a small portion of the pool.

Already, three LIBOR members have paid over $2.5 billion in penalties over the LIBOR rate-fixing debacle. Earlier this year, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) consented to pay $610 million, and last year, UBS consented to pay over $1.5 million while Barclays said it would pay $450 million.

LIBOR
The London Interbank Offered Rate is the global benchmark interest rate for establishing short-term interest rates on financial instruments ranging from sophisticated municipal derivative investments to car loans. The British Banker’s Association sets LIBOR daily. The benchmark interest rate is determined according to the average of the interest rate that each LIBOR member bank says it can borrow from the other bank members. Until the manipulation among LIBOR members was discovered, a member bank’s interbank borrowing rate was considered a mirror of its credit worthiness.

In 2011, regulators from the US, UK, Japan, and Switzerland said they would investigate LIBOR rate manipulation influencing financial markets globally. Banks that were members of LIBOR were accused of manipulating LIBOR to up their profits and report borrowing rates that were suppressed to make them appear to be in greater financial health.

Please contact our LIBOR Fraud lawyers at SSEK Partners Group today.

Sonoma County joins suit over LIBOR rate setting, North Bay Business Journal, June 28, 2013

The County of Sonoma, California Files Lawsuit Against Major Banks for Libor Interest Rate Manipulation, County of Sonoma, June 28, 2013


More Blog Posts:
CBOE Will Pay $6M Penalty Over SEC Charges Alleging Failure to Enforce Trading Rules, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, June 12, 2013

AIG Drops RMBS Lawsuit Against New York Fed, Fights Bank of America’s $8.5B MBS Settlement, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, June 5, 2013

FINRA Orders Wells Fargo & Banc of America’s Merrill Lynch Ordered to Pay $5.1M for Floating-Rate Bank Loan Funds Sales, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, June 4, 2013

June 5, 2013

AIG Drops RMBS Lawsuit Against New York Fed, Fights Bank of America’s $8.5B MBS Settlement

American International Group (AIG) and Maiden Lane II dismissing lawsuit against the Federal Reserve Bank of New York regarding the $182.3 billion financial bailout that the insurer received during the 2008 economic crisis. In dispute was whether AIG still had the right to pursue a lawsuit over residential mortgage-backed securities losses and if the company had moved $18 billion of litigation claims to Maiden Lane, which is a New York Fed-created entity.

An AIG spokesperson said that in the wake of a recent ruling by a district judge in California that the company did not assign $7.3 billion of the claims to Maiden Lane, both are dropping their action without prejudice. This means that AIG can now pursue Bank of America (BAC) for these claims, which is what the insurer wants to do.

Bank of America had said that AIG could not sue it over the allegedly fraudulent MBS because the latter transferred that right when the New York Fed bought the instruments in question 2008. However, according to Judge Mariana R. Pfaelzer, even if the New York Fed meant for Maiden Lane II to have these claims, that intention was not made clear.

On Tuesday, in New York State Supreme Court, the insurer argued that the proposed $8.5 billion settlement reached between the bank and investors in MBS from Countrywide Financial Corp. is not enough. The judge there is trying to determine whether to approve the settlement, reached with investors who claimed that the firm had misrepresented the mortgages backing the securities.

AIG is one of a number of entities that oppose the settlement. At the hearing, one of its lawyers questioned why the settlement was merely $8.5 billion when investors initially asked for $50 billion.

AIG also is arguing that there may be a conflict of interest with those that arrived at the proposed settlement amount. The insurer is questioning whether trustee Bank of New York Mellon (BK), which does a lot of its trustee business with Bank of America, did a good enough job of researching the risks involving successor liability and investigating the loan files. Bank of NY Mellon also is the trustee for 530 trusts that are holding the securities under dispute. Another investor supporting the current proposed settlement is BlackRock Inc, which also has a strategic relationship with the bank.

Meantime, the attorney who negotiated the $8.5 billion proposed settlement between BofA 22 institutional investors says that not only is this the biggest settlement in the history of private litigation, but also it is worth almost two times as much as Countrywide, which is valued at $4.8 billion.

AIG argues against $8.5 billion settlement with BofA, Reuters, June 4, 2013

Court allows AIG to sue Bank of America for fraud, The Boston Globe, May 8, 2013


More Blog Posts:
AIG Wants to Stop Former CEO Greenberg From Naming It as a Defendant in Derivatives Lawsuit Against the US, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, April 13, 2013

Bank of New York Mellon Corp. Must Contend with Pension Fund Claims Over Countrywide Mortgage-Backed Securities, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, April 10, 2012

Bank of America Subpoenaed by Massachusetts Over Bryn Mawr CLO II Ltd. and LCM VII Ltd. CLOs that Cost Investors $150 Million, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, February 14, 2012

February 20, 2013

New York Fed Bailed Out Bank of America Over Mortgage-Backed Securities Sold to AIG

Recently, a secret deal came to light involving the Federal Reserve Bank of New York bailing out Bank of America (BAC) that released the latter from all legal claims involving mortgage-backed securities losses that the former obtained when the government rescued American International Group (AIG) in 2008. Some believe that the bank was allowed to abscond responsibility even as AIG sought to recover $7 billion that was loss on these same MBSs.

According to The New York Times, as part of its settlement with BofA, the New York Fed obtained $43 million in a securities dispute involving two of the mortgage securities. For no compensation, the bank was released from all other legal claims.

The roots of this settlement can be traced back to 2008 when the government intervened to rescue AIG . Part of that aid involved AIG selling mortgage securities to Maiden Lane II, which the New York Fed oversees. At the time, the insurer was losing money from toxic mortgages, many of which came from BofA. AIG obtained $20.8 billion for securities valued at $39.2 billion.

In 2011, AIG sued BofA for securities fraud in attempted to obtain $10 billion in damages--$7 billion from the Maiden Lane II-related securities. Meantime, Bank of America argued that AIG had no grounds for suing it on these securities, noting that possession of the entitlement to bring a legal lawsuit against the bank had passed to Maiden Lane. New York Fed, which controlled Maiden Lane II, never brought securities claims against BofA.

However, AIG contended that under New York law, which Maiden Lain II is subject to, an entity must explicitly transfer the right to sue for fraud and that the deal between AIG and the New York Fed never specified this switch. AIG then filed a separate MBS lawsuit against Maiden Lane II in New York.

Now, AIG’s $10 billion fraud lawsuit against BofA has gone to federal court. Federal Judge Mariana R. Pfaelzer in California’s central district will rule on who is the claims’ owner.

While the New York Fed agreed in late 2011 that AIG is entitled to seek damages on instruments that it sold to Maiden Lane II, it is now aiding BofA in the latter’s legal fight against AIG, even providing a declaration that Maiden Lane II was the only one entitled to sue. Some, however, are asking why if the New York Fed meant for Maiden Lane II to possess ownership of the right to sue Bank of America it didn’t try to file its own claim for taxpayers rather than discharging the bank from liability. Meantime, the question of whether BofA should be liable for wrongdoing committed by Countrywide during economic crisis has still not been answered.

Don’t Blink, or You’ll Miss Another Bailout, The New York TImes, February 16, 2013

AIG sues NY Fed over right to


More Blog Posts:
Former Jeffries Director Charged with Securities Fraud Crimes and Sued By SEC Over Alleged Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, February 11, 2013

McGraw Hills, Moody’s, & Standard & Poor’s Can’t Be Held Liable by Ohio Pension Funds for Allegedly Flawed MBS Ratings, Affirms Sixth Circuit, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, December 20, 2012

Investment Fraud Lawsuit Against BlackRock Over Exchange-Traded Funds Could Shed More Light on Securities Lending, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, February 18, 2013

October 24, 2012

Bank of America Corp. Sued for Over $1B By US Government For Mortgage Fraud Against Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae

The United States is suing Bank of America Corporation (BAC) for more than $1 billion over alleged mortgage fraud involving the sale of defective loans to Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. The federal government contends that Countrywide, and then later Bank of America, following its acquisition of the former, executed the “Hustle,” a loan origination process intended to swiftly process loans without the use of quality checkpoints. This allegedly resulted in thousands of defective and fraudulent residential mortgage loans, which were sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, that later defaulted, leading to innumerable foreclosures and over $1 billion in losses.

The US claims that between 2007 and 2009, mortgage company Countrywide Financial Corp. got rid of checks and quality control on loans, including opting not to use underwriters, giving unqualified personnel incentives to cut corners, and hiding defects, and then proceeded to falsely keep claiming that these loans were qualified to be insured by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. The result, says U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara, was that taxpayers were left to foot the bill from these “disastrously bad loans.”

The Hustle was initiated by Countrywide in 2007 via its Full Spectrum Lending Division during a rise in loan default rates and while, in an effort to reduce risk, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae were getting tougher about requirements for loan purchases. In addition to eliminating key quality control and check procedures, Hustle allegedly depended on inexperienced and unqualified loan processers to handle underwriting duties, while giving them financial incentives to place quantity over quality.

The government contends that although senior management at Full Spectrum Lending were regularly warned that getting rid of toll gates that are supposed to prevent fraud and maintain quality control could lead to disastrous consequences, they allegedly proceeded to continue disregarding such cautions. This meant that Countrywide and Bank of America like knew that the loans they were originating and then selling to the GSEs were defective and/or fraudulent. (The loans that eventually defaulted were a key reason why in September 2008 Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae had to be put into conservatorship under the Federal Housing Finance Agency, pursuant to the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008.)

The US government is filing its mortgage fraud lawsuit under the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989 and the Federal False Claims Act, which prosecutors have been using to take banks to task over alleged mortgage-related wrongdoings. The act can result in triple damages if the government is able to prove that taxpayers were bilked. The securities case was also brought under the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act. This is the first civil fraud case that the US Department of Justice has brought regarding the sale of mortgage loans to Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Sues Bank Of America For Over $1 Billion For Multi-Year Mortgage Fraud Against Government Sponsored Entities Fannie Mae And Freddie Mac, Justice.gov, October 24, 2012

U.S. Sues BofA Over Mortgage Sales, The Wall Street Journal, October 25, 2012


More Blog Posts:
Ex-Bank of America Employee Pleads Guilty to Mortgage Fraud Scam Using Stolen Identities to Buy Homes Not For Sale, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, August 30, 2011

Bank of America to Pay $335M to Countrywide Financial Corp. Borrowers Over Allegedly Discriminating Lending Practices, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, December 21, 2011

JPMorgan Chase Must Pay Oil Heiress’s Trust $18M For Derivatives Investments, Account Mismanagement, and Unsuitable Investment Advice, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, October 12, 2012

April 10, 2012

Bank of New York Mellon Corp. Must Contend with Pension Fund Claims Over Countrywide Mortgage-Backed Securities

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York has decided that investors can sue Bank of New York Mellon (BK) over its role as trustee in Countrywide Financial Corp.’s mortgage-backed securities that they say cost billions of dollars in damages. While Judge William Pauley threw out some of the clams filed in the securities fraud lawsuit submitted by the pension funds, he said that the remaining ones could proceed. The complaint was filed by the Benefit Fund of the City of Chicago, the Retirement Board of the Policemen’s Annuity, and the City of Grand Rapids General Retirement System. The retirement board and Chicago’s benefit fund hold certificates that 25 New York trusts and one Delaware trust had issued, and BNY Mellon is the indentured trustee for both. Pooling and servicing agreements govern how money is allocated to certificate holders.

In Retirement Board of Policemen's Annuity and Benefit Fund of City of Chicago v. Bank of New York Mellon, the plaintiffs are accusing BNYM of ignoring its responsibility as the investors’ trustee. They believe that the bank neglected to review the loan files for mortgages that were backing the securities to make sure that there were no defective or missing documents. The bank also allegedly did not act for investors to ensure that loans having “irregularities” were taken from the mortgage pools. As a result, bondholders sustained massive losses and were forced to experience a great deal of uncertainty about investors’ ownership interest in the mortgage loans. The plaintiffs are saying that it was BNYM’s job to perfect the assignment of mortgages to the trusts, certify that documentation was correct, review loan files, and make sure that the trust’s master servicer executed its duties and remedied or bought back defective loans. Countrywide Home Loans Inc. had originally been master servicer until it merged with Bank of America (BAC).

The district court, in granting its motion, limited the lawsuit to the trusts in which the pension fund had interests. It also held that the fund only claimed “injury in fact” in regards to the trusts in which it held certificates. The court found that the certificates from New York are debt securities and not equity and are covered under the Trust Indenture Act. The plaintiffs not only did an adequate job of pleading that Bank of America and Countrywide were in breach of the PSAs, but also they adequately pleaded that defaults of the PSAs were enough to trigger BNYM’s responsibilities under Sections 315(b) and (c). The court, however, threw out the claims that BNYM violated Section 315(a) by not performing certain duties under the PSAs and certain other agreements.

BNYM says it will defend itself against the claims that remain.

Bank of NY Mellon must face lawsuit on Countrywide, Reuters, April 3, 2012

Judge Rejects Bank Of NY Mellon Motion To Dismiss Countrywide Suit, Fox, April 3, 2012


More Blog Posts:

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Credit Suisse Group AG Must Pay ST Microelectronics NV $431 Million Auction-Rate Securities Arbitration Award, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, April 5, 2012

Citigroup to Pay $285M to Settle SEC Lawsuit Alleging Securities Fraud in $1B Derivatives Deal, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, October 20, 2011


Continue reading "Bank of New York Mellon Corp. Must Contend with Pension Fund Claims Over Countrywide Mortgage-Backed Securities " »

April 6, 2012

Wirehouses Struggle to Retain Their Share of the High-Net-Worth-Market

With their share of the high-net-worth-market expected to drop down to 42% in 2014 from the 56% peak it reached five years ago, wirehouses are looking to regain their grip. According to Cerulli Associates, Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAC), Wells Fargo (WFC), Morgan Stanley Smith Barney (MS), and UBS (UBS)—essentially, the largest financial firms—will see their portion of the high-net-worth market continue to get smaller. Meantime, because private client groups can now be called the largest high-net-worth services provider, they can expect their hold to continue as they likely accumulate about $2.8 trillion in high-net-worth assets in two years—a 49% market share.

The Cerulli report says that the wirehouses’ reduced share of the market can be attributed to a number of factors, including the fact that high-net-worth investors are allocating their wealth to several advisors at a time. Also, during the economic crisis of 2008, many investors transferred some assets out of the wirehouses. There were also the wirehouse advisers that chose to go independent or enter another channel. In many cases, these advisors’ clients ended up going with them.

The private client groups are the ones that have benefited from this shift away from wirehouses. A main reason for this is that they are considered safer for both advisors that wanted a change and investors who were seeking lower risks.

Also, per the report, there has been healthy growth in the independent advisor industry. The registered investment advisor/multi-family offices grew their assets under management by 18% two years ago. Meantime, during this same time period, wirehouses assets only grew by 2%.

In other wirehouse-related news, beginning summer, ERISA Section 408(b)(2) ‘s new point-of-sale fee disclosure rules will make it harder for these firms to up the fees they charge investors. According to AdvisorOne, as a result, these firms are raising the fees that they charge mutual fund companies instead.

Wirehouses and mutual fund companies usually have a revenue sharing agreement. In exchange for investing their clients’ money in a mutual fund, a wirehouse charges the mutual fund company a fee (this is usually a percentage of every dollar that the client invests). However, in the wake of the upcoming disclosure changes, financial firms have started raising that fee.

For example, according to The Wall Street Journal, at the start of the year, UBS approximately doubled the rate that mutual funds must now pay. The financial firm is seeking up to $15 for every new $10,000 that a clients invests in a mutual fund. Moving forward, this will go up to $20 annually. Morgan Stanley’s new raised rate is $16 a year. It used to charge $13 for stock funds and $10 for bond funds.

Wirehouses are saying that since its the brokerage firms and not the individual financial adviser who gets the separate payment streams, the rate won’t impact the judgment of an adviser when it comes to selecting funds. Such fees paid by mutual funds can impact a financial firm’s bottom line. For example, last year, almost a third of Edward Jones’s $481.8 million in profits came from mutual fund company fees.

Wirehouses raise fees on mutual fund companies, AdvisorOne, April 5, 2012

Wirehouses Battle to Keep Market Share, On Wall Street, March 28, 2012

More Blog Posts:
Institutional Investor Fraud Roundup: SEC Seeks Approval of Settlement with Ex-Bear Stearns Portfolio Managers, Credits Ex-AXA Rosenberg Executive for Help in Quantitative Investment Case; IOSCO Gets Ready for Global Hedge Fund Survey, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, March 29, 2012

Citigroup Ordered by FINRA to Pay $1.2M Over Bond Markups and Markdowns, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, March 27, 2012

FINRA Bars Registered Representatives Accused of Securities Misconduct and Negligence, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, April 5, 2012

Continue reading "Wirehouses Struggle to Retain Their Share of the High-Net-Worth-Market" »

December 21, 2011

Bank of America to Pay $335M to Countrywide Financial Corp. Borrowers Over Allegedly Discriminating Lending Practices

Bank of America Corp. has agreed to a record $335 million settlement to pay back Countrywide Financial Corp. borrowers who were billed more for loans because of their nationality and race, while creditworthiness and other objective criteria took a back seat. All borrowers that were discriminated against qualified to receive mortgage loans under Countrywide’s own underwriting standards.

The settlement is larger than any past fair-lending settlements (totaling $30M) that the US Justice Department has been able to obtain to date. Countrywide was acquired by Bank of America in 2008.

According to the Justice Department, Countrywide charged higher fees and interest rates to over 200,000 Hispanic and black borrowers while directing minorities to more costly subprime mortgages despite the fact that they qualified for prime loans. Meantime, the latter were given to non-Hispanic white borrowers who had similar credit profiles.

Under federal civil rights laws, a lending practice is illegal if it has a negative effect on borrowers that are minorities. The US Justice Department’s complain contends that “steering,” which involves using discrimination to place borrowers in subprime loans, was able to occur because it was Countrywide’s practice to let employees and mortgage brokers place a loan applicant in a subprime loan even when that party qualified for a prime loan. Also, mortgage brokers were allowed to use discretion when asking for exceptions to the underlying guidelines.

Subprime loans usually come with higher-cost conditions, such as exploding adjustable interest rates that can suddenly go up after a couple of years, as well as prepayment penalties. All of this can place a borrower at higher risk of foreclosure and render payments unaffordable.

Per the settlement, Countrywide will have to put in place practices and policies to bar discrimination if it decides to go back to the lending business in the next four years. Also resolved are the Justice Department’s claims that the Bank of America subsidiary violated the Equal Credit Opportunity Act.

Countrywide is accused of using marital status to discriminate against non-applicant spouses of borrowers by trying to get them to sign away their rights to home ownership through quitclaim deeds and other documents that ended up giving the borrowing spouse the interest and legal rights in property held by both of them.

A judge still has to approve the settlement. If it goes through, impacted lenders will get between several hundred to several thousand dollars.

Our securities fraud attorneys represent investors that lost money during the subprime mortgage crisis. If you believe that negligence on the part of a financial professional caused your losses, do not hesitate to contact Shepherd Smith Edwards and Kantas, LTD LLP today.

BofA Agrees Record $335M Fair-Lending Deal, Bloomberg, December 21, 2011

Countrywide Will Settle a Bias Suit, New York Times, December 21, 2011


More Blog Posts:

Federal Home Loan Banks Say Countrywide Financial Corp Mortgage Bond Investors May Be Owed Way More than What $8.5B Securities Settlement with Bank of America Corp. is Offering, Institutional Investors Securities Blog, July 22, 2011

California Investigating Whether Bank of America & Countrywide Financial Used False Pretenses to Sell Mortgage-Backed Securities to Investors, Institutional Investors Securities Blog, October 21, 2011

FDIC Objects to Bank of America’s Proposed $8.5B Settlement Over Mortgage-Backed Securities, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, August 30, 2011

December 6, 2011

Bank of America’s Merrill Lynch Settles for $315 million Class Action Lawsuit Over Mortgage-Backed Securities

Bank of America, Corp. has agreed to pay investors $315 million to settle their class action claim accusing Merrill Lynch of misleading them about the risks involved in investing in mortgage-backed securities. If approved, the proposed settlement would be one of the largest reached over MBS that caused investors major losses when the housing market collapsed. The lead plaintiff in this securities case is the Public Employees' Retirement System of Mississippi pension fund.

The class action lawsuit accused Merrill of misleading investors about $16.5 billion of MBS in 18 offerings that were made between 2006 and 2007. They are claiming possible losses in the billions of dollars. (The offerings occurred before Bank of America bought Merrill.)

The plaintiffs contend that Merrill’s offering documents were misleading. They also believe that the original investment-grade ratings for the securities, which had been backed by loans from Countrywide, IndyMac Bancorp Inc., First Franklin Financial unit, and New Century Financial Corp. were unmerited. Most of these investments were later downgraded to “junk” status.

By agreeing to settle, Bank of America is not admitting to or denying wrongdoing.

This settlement must be approved by US District Judge Jed Rakoff, who just last week rejected the proposed $285M securities settlement between Citigroup Global Markets Inc. and the Securities and Exchange Commission. He ordered that the case be resolved through trial. Rakoff was also the one who refused to approve another proposed Bank of America securities settlement—the one in 2009 with the SEC—for $33 million over misstatements that were allegedly made regarding the purchase of Merrill. Rakoff would later go on to approve the revised settlement of $150 million.

Rakoff has criticized a system that allows financial firms to settle securities fraud allegations against them without having to admit or deny wrongdoing. He also has expressed frustration at the “low” settlements some investment banks have been ordered to pay considering the amount of financial losses suffered by investors.

Our securities fraud lawyers represent individual and institutional clients that sustained losses related to non-traded REITs, private placements, principal protected notes, auction-rate securities, collateralized debt obligations, mortgage-backed securities, reverse convertible bonds, high yield-notes and other financial instruments that were mishandled by broker-dealers, investment advisers, or their representatives. We also work with victims of Ponzi scams, affinity scams, elder financial fraud and other financial schemes.

BofA Merrill unit in $315 mln mortgage settlement, Reuters, December 6, 2011

Public Employees' Retirement System of Mississippi


More Blog Posts:

Citigroup’s $285M Settlement With the SEC Is Turned Down by Judge Rakoff, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, November 28, 2011

Citigroup’s $285M Mortgage-Related CDO Settlement with Raises Concerns About SEC’s Enforcement Practices for Judge Rakoff, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, November 9, 2011

Ex-Lehman Brothers Holdings Chief Executive Defends Request that Insurance Fund Pay Legal Bills, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, October 19, 2011

Continue reading "Bank of America’s Merrill Lynch Settles for $315 million Class Action Lawsuit Over Mortgage-Backed Securities " »

October 22, 2011

California Investigating Whether Bank of America & Countrywide Financial Used False Pretenses to Sell Mortgage-Backed Securities to Investors

Not long after bowing out of talks over a possible $25 billion dollar settlement between state and federal officials and the country’s largest banks (including Bank of America Corp, Citigroup, and JP Morgan Chase & Co.) over alleged foreclosure abuses, California’s Attorney General’s office has subpoenaed BofA as part of its investigation into whether it and subsidiary Countrywide Financial employed false pretenses to get private and institutional investors to purchase risky mortgage-backed securities. By walking out of the negotiations on the grounds that the banks weren’t offering a big enough settlement, the state of California has given itself the option of arriving at a larger settlement.

California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris has called the proposed settlement “inadequate” for the homeowners in her state. She has also has set up a mortgage fraud strike force tasked with investigating all areas of mortgage fraud.

Countrywide is credited with playing a role in the housing boom and its later collapse because of subprime loans it gave clients with poor/no credit histories, mortgages that let borrowers pay such a small amount that their loan balances went up instead of down, and “liar” loans that were issued without assets and income being confirmed. Also, a lot of the most high-risk loans were bundled up to support private-label securities that became highly toxic for investors and banks.

Meantime, Federal and state officials are trying to get California to rejoin the larger talks. Just this week, they presented the possibility of helping troubled creditworthy owners refinance their loans. California’s involvement is key for any deal because the state so many borrowers that owe more than the value of their homes, are in foreclosure, or are running behind on mortgages.

New York, too, has backed out of the group—a move that proved to be another blow for negotiations, as well as for the Obama Administration. Officials from other states, such as Nevada, Delaware, Minnesota, Massachusetts, and Kentucky, have also expressed worry about the breadth of the settlement and whether all potential misconduct has been investigated.

With its acquisition of Countrywide in 2008, BofA has sustained high losses over settlements as a result of its subsidiary’s loans. According to the Los Angeles Times, these settlements include:

• A promise to forgive up to $3 billion in principal for Massachusetts Countrywide borrowers
• $600 million to former Countrywide shareholders
• Billions of dollars to Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae over buybacks of bad home loans
• $8.5 billion to institutional investors over the repurchase of Countrywide mortgage-backed bonds
• $5.5 billion reserved for mortgage bond investors with similar claims

California reportedly subpoenas BofA over toxic securities, Los Angeles Times, October 20, 2011

California Pulls Out of Foreclosure Talks, Wall Street Journal, October 1, 2011


More Blog Posts:
$63 Million Mortgage-Backed Securities Lawsuit Against Bank of America is Second One Filed by Western and Southern Life Insurance Co. Against the Financial Firm, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, August 29, 2011

Federal Home Loan Banks Say Countrywide Financial Corp Mortgage Bond Investors May Be Owed Way More than What $8.5B Securities Settlement with Bank of America Corp. is Offering, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, July 22, 2011

Bank of America and Countrywide Financial Sued by Allstate over $700M in Bad Mortgaged-Backed Securities, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, December 29, 2010

Continue reading "California Investigating Whether Bank of America & Countrywide Financial Used False Pretenses to Sell Mortgage-Backed Securities to Investors" »

September 8, 2011

Nevada Attorney General Goes After Bank of America for Allegedly Violating Countrywide Fraud Settlement

Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto is accusing Bank of America of violating its fraud settlement regarding Countrywide Financial Corp. She is asking the court to “terminate our consent judgment” because she says the violation is “such a material breach.”

Masto claims that instead of honoring the terms of their agreement, Bank of America has:

• Continued to take part in fraudulent activities that allow contracts to stay in place
• Gone back on its promise to lower interest rates when revising the loans of buyers in trouble and instead has raised them.
• Failed to give qualified homeowners the promised loan modifications
• Proceeded with foreclosures even though modification requests by borrowers were still pending
• Not met the 60-day requirement to grant new loan terms

Masto says that numerous complaints have been submitted to her office over modified mortgages that come with new contracts that are more expensive than what was originally stated. Ending Nevada’s participation in the settlement agreement would let the state file a securities lawsuit against the bank over its allegedly questionably practices.

Countrywide, which was acquire by Bank of America, settled lawsuits with a number of states, including Nevada over what they contend was predatory lending practices. To settle the complaints, the bank promised to designate $8.4 billion as direct loan relief, waive tens of millions of dollars in prepayment penalties and late fees, put aside money to help people in foreclosure, help 400,000 borrowers with financial relief, and suspend foreclosure on borrowers that were delinquent and had the most high risk loans.

Unfortunately, in Nevada, where 262,622 Countrywide loans were originated, foreclosure issues piled up, as did complaints about the bank’s loan service practices. Nevada’s new complaint also accuses Bank of America of:

• Telling credit report agencies that consumers who weren’t in default were in default.
• Deceiving borrowers about the reason their requests for loan modifications were turned down.
• Incorrectly claiming that borrowers that had made payments on trial loan modifications hadn’t paid.
• Falsely claiming that loan owners wouldn’t allow changes to mortgages.
• Misleading borrowers with loan modification offers that came with one set of terms but then returning with a different deal.
• Limiting the amount of time employees could help troubled borrowers with their loan-related issues and punishing those that violated these restrictions.
• Not providing the required loan documentation when it packaged mortgage securities and sold them to investors.
• Failing to endorse a mortgage note, per the typical pool and servicing agreements made between investors and Countrywide, and not delivering it to the trustee in charge of the pool.

Nevada says that Such paperwork failures should have prevented the bank from being able to foreclose on borrowers.

Masto’s request to get out of the Countrywide settlement could impact other negotiations by other state attorneys general related to allegedly improper foreclosure practices against Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, and Wells Fargo. These banks are being asked to put out approximately $20 billion toward loan modifications. Discussions here have been delayed because there is disagreement over whether a settlement would let state regulators sue the banks over questionable practices in the future.

Related Web Resources:
Nevada Says Bank Broke Mortgage Settlement, NY Times, August 30, 2011

Nevada's Attorney General pursues BofA, UPI, September 19, 2011

Nevada Goes to War Against Bank of America, Consumer Affairs, September 2011

More Blog Posts:
Federal Home Loan Banks Say Countrywide Financial Corp Mortgage Bond Investors May Be Owed Way More than What $8.5B Securities Settlement with Bank of America Corp. is Offering, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, July 22, 2011

Countrywide Finance. Corp, UBS Securities LLC, and JPMorgan Securities LLC Settle Mortgage-Backed Securities Lawsuit Filed by New Mexico Institutional Investors for $162M, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, March 10, 2011

Bank of America and Countrywide Financial Sued by Allstate over $700M in Bad Mortgaged-Backed Securities, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, December 28, 2010

Continue reading "Nevada Attorney General Goes After Bank of America for Allegedly Violating Countrywide Fraud Settlement" »

August 29, 2011

$63 Million Mortgage-Backed Securities Lawsuit Against Bank of America is Second One Filed by Western and Southern Life Insurance Co. Against the Financial Firm

Once again, Western and Southern Life Insurance Co. is suing Bank of America Corporation for the alleged misrepresentation of mortgage-backed securities that the financial firm sold to the insurer. This time, the plaintiff is seeking $63 million. Western and Southern Life’s first MBS lawsuit against BofA sought $225 million in losses over securities it bought through Countrywide Financial Corp. (Bank of America acquired Countrywide in 2008.)

In this latest ARS lawsuit, Western and Southern Life says that it purchased $134 million in MBS from Bank of America between 2006 and 2008. The company contends that the securities would go on to lose 47% of their value. Western and Southern Life claims that the financial firm disregarded its own underwriting procedures and that a lot of the loans, which had AAA-ratings when they were purchased, have since foreclosed or defaulted. The insurer is also accusing Bank of America of failing to properly examine documents pertaining to the loans, which it says were based on erroneous information (including inflated appraisals, overstated incomes, and false employment verifications).

It was just last month that Western and Southern Life filed two other MBS lawsuits. In its securities case against Morgan Stanley & Co., the insurer is seeking $68.1 million for losses it claims it sustained because the financial firm allegedly misrepresented the MBS. The insurer says that in 2006 and 2007 it bought $179 million in mortgage-backed securities from Morgan Stanley.

Also in July, Western and Southern Life sued Credit Suisse Securities over the alleged loss of $107 million in MBS that the financial firm underwrote and one of its units sold. As with its securities cases against Bank of America, Western and Southern Life claims that Credit Suisse and Morgan Stanley disregarded their standards when accepting the loans. The insurer says that between 2005 and 2008 it bought $276 million in MBS from Credit Suisse.

Although Bank of America’s agreement to settle mortgage-back securities claims by 22 private investors that purchased 530 MBS valued at $424 billion covers Countrywide loans, Western and Southern Life was not part of this arrangement. Among the institutional investors to benefit from the settlement are BlackRock, Inc., PIMCO, Metlife, Inc., the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and Goldman Sachs.

Per that settlement, Bank of America will give $8.5 billion to Bank of New York Mellon, which, as bondholder trustee, will distribute the funds to investors. However, if the court approves this settlement, investors will still be at a disadvantage because only some 2 or 3 centers on the dollar would be represented for those that suffered financial losses.

BofA Again Sued Over MBS, Yahoo, August 25, 2011

Bank of America agrees to $8.5B Countrywide settlement, Biz Journals, June 29, 2011

Western & Southern sues over investments, Business Courier, July 29, 2011


More Blog Posts:

AIG Files $10 Billion Mortgage-Backed Securities Lawsuit Against Bank of America, Institutional Investors Securities Blog, August 13, 2011

Wall Street Knew 28% of the Loans Behind Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS) Failed to Meet Basic Underwriting Standards, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, September 29, 2010

Federal Home Loan Banks Say Countrywide Financial Corp Mortgage Bond Investors May Be Owed Way More than What $8.5B Securities Settlement with Bank of America Corp. is Offering, Institutional Investors Securities Blog, July 22, 2011

Continue reading "$63 Million Mortgage-Backed Securities Lawsuit Against Bank of America is Second One Filed by Western and Southern Life Insurance Co. Against the Financial Firm" »

August 13, 2011

AIG Files $10 Billion Mortgage-Backed Securities Lawsuit Against Bank of America

American International Group (AIG) is seeking to recover over $10 billion in mortgage-backed securities-related losses from Bank of America (BAC). The losses were allegedly sustained on $28 billion in investments.

In what may be the largest MBS-related action filed by one investor, the complaint accuses Bank of America and its units Countrywide Financial and Merrill Lynch of misrepresenting the quality of the mortgages that were in the securities that investors bought. AIG also claims that Bank of America used false data to persuade the credit rating agencies to give the MBS high ratings.

Bank of America, which contends that the disclosures that were made were robust enough for sophisticated investors and that AIG is a “seasoned investor,” is denying AIG’s allegations against it. According to Bank of America spokesperson Lawrence Di Rita, the reason AIG suffered the financial losses at issue is because it was reckless in pursing profits and high yields in the “mortgage and structured finance markets.”

Bank of America’s 2008 acquisition of Countrywide for $4 billion has cost the financial firm much more in mortgage-related fines, losses, loan buybacks, and litigation expenses. Courthouse News Service database reports that Countrywide and Bank of America have been named as defendants in 1300 lawsuits in 2011 alone. Recently, Bank of America agreed to settle investor MBS claims for $8.5 billion. Parties to the settlement included the Bank of NY Mellon, BlackRock, the Federal reserve Bank of New York, and PIMCO. However, the New York Attorney General is now calling that settlement inadequate.

As for AIG, which is still largely owned by taxpayers following its 2008 government bailout, the New York Times says that the insurer is preparing similar securities fraud complaints against JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, and Deutsche Bank to try to recover some of the billions that it lost during the economic crisis.

Government Not Proving Helpful In Pursuing Investment Banks
Contrary to investors, who are seeking to hold big banks accountable in civil court, the Justice Department closed many of its investigations into Wall Street’s big banks without filing any criminal charges. Although it has brought cases against three employees at big financial banks, no executives have been charged. However, a spokesperson for the Justice Department says that the government has pursued the cases were appropriate and that it is much more difficult to prove that a crime has been committed beyond a reasonable doubt than to find a party liable in civil court.

The New York Times reports that a person familiar with the case says that the Justice Department has concluded its investigation into Countrywide’s actions heading into the financial crises and that there will be no charges filed. The government also recently closed its probe into Washington Mutual, with the finding that there was no evidence of criminal wrongdoing. The Washington bank almost failed because of high-risk mortgages.


Related Web Resources:

A.I.G. Sues Bank of America Over Mortgage Bonds, The New York Times, August 8, 2011

AIG sues Bank of America for $10 billion over mortgages, USA Today/AP, August 8, 2011

More Blog Posts:
Federal Home Loan Banks Say Countrywide Financial Corp Mortgage Bond Investors May Be Owed Way More than What $8.5B Securities Settlement with Bank of America Corp. is Offering, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, July 22, 2011

Bank of America Cop. (BAC)’s Merrill Lynch a Defendant of Class-Action Mortgage-Backed Securities Lawsuit Against at Least 1,800 Investors, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, July 22, 2011, June 25, 2011

Bank of America and Countrywide Financial Sued by Allstate over $700M in Bad Mortgaged-Backed Securities, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, December 29, 2010

Continue reading "AIG Files $10 Billion Mortgage-Backed Securities Lawsuit Against Bank of America " »

July 22, 2011

Federal Home Loan Banks Say Countrywide Financial Corp Mortgage Bond Investors May Be Owed Way More than What $8.5B Securities Settlement with Bank of America Corp. is Offering

According to six Federal Home Loan Banks, the investors of Countrywide Financial Corp.’s mortgage bonds may be entitled to three or more times more than what the proposed $8.5 billion securities settlement reached with Bank of America Corp (BAC) is offering. Bank of America acquired Countrywide in 2008.

Under the current settlement, which was reached with Bank of New York Mellon (the trustee of 22 institutional investors), Bank of America is supposed to pay those who placed money in the 530 residential mortgage securitization trusts that Countrywide had set up. Now, however, the Federal Home Loan Banks of Chicago, Boston, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Seattle, and San Francisco have filed a court filing seeking more information about the deal. The home loan banks claim that they also invested over $8.5 billion in the mortgage-backed securities. While the current proposal requires that Bank of America repurchase just 40% of MBS that defaulted, the FHLBs believe there may be grounds for upping the proposed settlement amount to at least $22 billion and they may want to join the case.

The six FHLBanks are not the only ones to object to BofA’s proposed settlement. Walnut Place LLC I-XI, which represents another group of Countrywide MBS investors, also has filed a court petition. They claim that Bank of New York Mellon was only attempting to arrive at an agreement for its 22 institutional investors that the rest of the investors would just have to abide by. Walnut Place LLC I-XI wants to block the current settlement and be excluded from any agreement that is finalized between BofA and Bank of New York Mellon.

Mortgage-Backed Securities
If you or your company suffered financial losses from investing in mortgage-backed securities, an experienced securities fraud attorney may be able to determine whether you have grounds for an institutional investment fraud claim.

Related Web Resources:
BofA Mortgage-Backed Securities Settlement Hits a Snag, OnWallStreet, July 22, 2011

Mortgage Investors May Be Owed Three Times More in BofA Deal, Bloomberg, July 21, 2011

Federal Home Loan Banks

Bank Of America Hit With Massive Fraud Lawsuit Over Countrywide, Texas Stockbroker Fraud


More Blog Posts:

Countrywide Finance. Corp, UBS Securities LLC, and JPMorgan Securities LLC Settle Mortgage-Backed Securities Lawsuit Filed by New Mexico Institutional Investors for $162M, Institutional Investors Securities Blog, March 10, 2011

Bank of America and Countrywide Financial Sued by Allstate over $700M in Bad Mortgaged-Backed Securities, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, December 29, 2010

Countrywide Financial, Merrill Lynch, and Citigroup Executives Defend Their Hefty Compensations Following Subprime Mortgage Crisis, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, March 12, 2008


Continue reading "Federal Home Loan Banks Say Countrywide Financial Corp Mortgage Bond Investors May Be Owed Way More than What $8.5B Securities Settlement with Bank of America Corp. is Offering" »

June 25, 2011

Bank of America Cop. (BAC)’s Merrill Lynch a Defendant of Class-Action Mortgage-Backed Securities Lawsuit Against at Least 1,800 Investors

U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff has ruled that Merrill Lynch must face a class action securities fraud lawsuit over mortgage-backed securities. The class of at least 1,800 investors consists of the buyers of 31 tranches of MBS in 18 different offerings that were sold between February 2006 and September 2007. Merrill Lynch is a unit of Bank of America Corp. (BAC).

The investors, who filed their litigation in 2008, are accusing Merrill of misleading them in the offering documents for certificate valued at $16.5 billion and of falsely claiming that the underlying mortgages were in compliance with underwriting guidelines. Plaintiffs include the Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association, the Mississippi Public Employees’ Retirement System, the Wyoming state treasurer, the Connecticut Carpenters Annuity Fund, and the Connecticut Carpenters Pension Fund. The class action certification lets the investors put their claims together into one lawsuit rather than having to individually push their cases through.

Meantime, Bloomberg.com is reporting that in a separate securities fraud lawsuit, also against Bank of America, U.S. District Judge William Pauley in Manhattan consolidated three cases accusing the investment bank of hiding the risks involved in mortgage-backed securities and of not using appropriate controls in processing foreclosures. The lead plaintiff in this case is Pennsylvania Public School Employees’ Retirement System.

Securities Class Actions
“The average net recovery for victims in securities class action claims is about 8% of their losses because such claims face many problems," says Shepherd Smith Edwards and Kantas founder and securities fraud attorney William Shepherd. "For example, only federal securities fraud claims can be made in such cases, which are often difficult to prove. However, investors who “opt out” of the class in a timely manner can file their own individual claims, including under state law claims often easier to prove. Our stockbroker fraud lawyers has represented many investors who have opted-out of securities class actions."

Shepherd continues, "Unfortunately, many securities class action claims are filed with very short “opt out” dates and some of these cases are later settled on terms that arguably favor the defendants while large payments end up going to the lawyers representing the investor/ victims in the class. Many believe the true losers in such cases are the members of the investor class who suffered the losses. [We have no information at this time to suggest such a result in this matter.] ”

Related Web Resources:
Merrill Must Face Class Action Over Mortgage Securities, Bloomberg, January 20, 2011

Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association

Mississippi Public Employees’ Retirement System

Connecticut Carpenters Annuity Fund


More Blog Posts:

National Credit Union Administration Board Files $800M Mortgage-Backed Securities Fraud Lawsuits Against JP Morgan Securities, RBS Securities, and Other Financial Institutions, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, June 23, 2011

MBIA Can Sue Morgan Stanley Over Alleged Misrepresentation of MBS Risks, Says US New York Supreme Court, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, June 14, 2011

Dow Corning Corp.’s $165M Securities Fraud Lawsuit Against Merrill Lynch & Co. Can Proceed, Says District Court Judge, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, April 7, 2011


Continue reading "Bank of America Cop. (BAC)’s Merrill Lynch a Defendant of Class-Action Mortgage-Backed Securities Lawsuit Against at Least 1,800 Investors" »

March 10, 2011

Countrywide Finance. Corp, UBS Securities LLC, and JPMorgan Securities LLC Settle Mortgage-Backed Securities Lawsuit Filed by New Mexico Institutional Investors for $162M

New Mexico’s State Investment Council and Public Employees Retirement Association have settled their securities lawsuit with Countrywide Finance Corp. and two underwriters for $162 million. These details, from the confidential settlement agreement, were was obtained by the Albuquerque Journal through an Inspection of Public Records request.

The Countrywide investments were made up of mortgage-backed securities that the company had written. JPMorgan Securities and UBS Securities LLC were the two underwriters.

The securities were obtained through securities lending, which involved the SIC lending one batch of securities in return for another batch that paid a slightly higher interest rate. Although securities lending is generally considered safe for institutional investors like the SIC and PERA, mortgage-backed securities played a key role in the recent financial collapse. Even now, since the market has rebounded, the Countrywide securities are still worth less than what the state got.

In their institutional investment fraud lawsuit, the SIC and PERA accuse the defendants of disregarding their own underwriting guidelines and dumping the securities on investors, including the state of New Mexico, “to generate high volume loan business regardless of credit risk.” The New Mexico agencies opted to file their complaint in state court instead of taking part in a class-action lawsuit with other US states.

Of the $162 million, $149 million goes to SIC, PERA gets $6 million, the Educational Retirement Board receives $100,000, and the lawyers hired by the state are to receive $7 million. Bank of America bought out Countrywide in 2008.

Related Web Resources:
State Nets $155 Million in Settlement, Albuquerque Journal, March 7, 2011

Countrywide sued by 3 New Mexico funds, Pensions & Investments, Pension and Investments, August 20, 2008

New Mexico State Investment Council

Public Employees Retirement Association of New Mexico

New Mexico Educational Retirement Board


More Blog Posts:
Bank of America and Countrywide Financial Sued by Allstate over $700M in Bad Mortgaged-Backed Securities, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, December 29, 2010

Countrywide Financial, Merrill Lynch, and Citigroup Executives Defend Their Hefty Compensations Following Subprime Mortgage Crisis, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, March 12, 2008

Continue reading "Countrywide Finance. Corp, UBS Securities LLC, and JPMorgan Securities LLC Settle Mortgage-Backed Securities Lawsuit Filed by New Mexico Institutional Investors for $162M " »

January 22, 2011

Bank of America Settles for $4.25M New York Securities Fraud Allegations that Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. Hid Subprime Mortgage Risks from Investors

Bank of America Corp. (BAC) and the New York State Common Retirement Fund have settled the latter’s securities fraud lawsuit accusing Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. of concealing the risks involved in investing in the subprime mortgage market. Under the terms of the settlement, Bank of America, which owns Merrill Lynch, will pay $4.25 million.

The comptroller’s office is keeping the terms of the securities settlement confidential. State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli did announce last July that the New York pension fund wanted to recover losses sustained by investors from Merrill’s alleged “fraud and deception” that “artificially inflated” the value of Merrill stock, which rapidly declined when the extent of exposure was revealed.

By opting out of a similar class action complaint involving other funds, the state pension fund has a chance of recovering more from the investment bank. Another securities lawsuit that has yet to be resolved seeks to recover losses related to Bank of America’s proxy disclosure when acquiring Merrill.

The demise of the subprime mortgage market a few years ago contributed to the crisis in the housing market and the economic collapse that has affected millions in the US and the rest of the world. Investors have since stepped forward and filed securities claims and lawsuits against investment banks, brokers, and others in the financial industry for misrepresenting the risks involved with subprime mortgages that have resulted in losses in the billions.

DiNapoli, BOA/Merrill Lynch settle for $4.25 million, Capitol Confidential, January 13, 2011

The Subprime Mortgage Market Collapse: A Primer on the Causes and Possible Solutions, The Heritage Foundation

NY comptroller settles Merrill Lynch fraud suit, BusinessWeek, January 13, 2011

New York State Common Retirement Fund

Subprime Mortgage, Institutional Investors Securities Blog

Continue reading "Bank of America Settles for $4.25M New York Securities Fraud Allegations that Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. Hid Subprime Mortgage Risks from Investors" »

December 31, 2010

Class Action Plaintiffs Dispute Bank of America’s $137M Settlement with State Attorney Generals Over Municipal Derivatives

The plaintiffs in a class action case against Bank of America Corp. (BAC) are asking a court to intervene in the securities settlement reached between the investment bank and 20 state attorneys generals over the alleged manipulation of municipal derivatives bids. As part of the global settlement, BofA agreed to pay approximately $137 million: $9.2 million to the Office of the Comptroller of Currency, $36.1 million to the Securities and Exchange Commission, $25 million in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service, and $66.9 million to the states. The plaintiffs claim that the settlement purports to settle the charges of their case without consulting with or notifying the class counsel.

Fairfax County, Va., the state of Mississippi, and other plaintiffs filed the securities class action against 37 banks. They claimed that the alleged bidding manipulation practices involving municipal derivatives had been occurring as far back as 1992.

Now, the plaintiffs want permission to file a motion to request an enjoinment of the BoA global settlement. Meantime, BoA is arguing that the plaintiffs’ motion is “baseless” and they want the court to not allow it. The investment bank says that it disagrees that the states’ settlement resolves the class claims. BoA also contends that it kept Judge Weinstein and the interim class counsel abreast of settlement negotiations with the state.

Related Web Resources:
Bank of America, Class Plaintiffs Tussle Over Bank's Global Settlement With States, BNA Securities Law Daily, December 21, 2010

Bank of America to Pay $137M Over Alleged Investment Scam To Pay Municipalities Low Interest Rates on Investments and $9M Over Alleged Bid-Rigging Scheme to Nonprofits, Institutional Investors Securities Blog, December 16 2010

Texas, 19 States Resolve Antitrust Investigation Into Bank of America's Municipal Derivatives Marketing, Cherokeean Herald, December 8, 2010

Continue reading "Class Action Plaintiffs Dispute Bank of America’s $137M Settlement with State Attorney Generals Over Municipal Derivatives" »

December 16, 2010

Bank of America to Pay $137M Over Alleged Investment Scam To Pay Municipalities Low Interest Rates on Investments and $9M Over Alleged Bid-Rigging Scheme to Nonprofits

Bank of America has agreed to pay $137 million to settle charges that it was involved in a financial scheme that allowed it to pay cities, states, and school districts low interest rates on their investments. The financial firm allegedly conspired with rivals to share municipalities’ investment business without having to pay market rates. As a result, government bodies in “virtually every state, district, and territory” in this country were paid artificially suppressed yields or rates on municipal bond offerings’ invested proceeds.

Bank of America has agreed to pay $36 million to the Securities and Exchange Commission and $101 million to federal and state agencies. The Los Angeles Times is reporting that $67 million will go to 20 US states. BofA will also make payments to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Internal Revenue Service. The SEC contends that from 1998 to 2002 the investment bank broke the law in 88 separate deals.

In its Formal Agreement with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, Bank of America agreed to strengthen its procedures, policies, and internal controls over competitive bidding in the department where the alleged illegal conduct took place, as well as take action to make sure that sufficient procedures, policies, and controls exist related to competitive bidding on an enterprise wide basis. The OCC is accusing the investment bank of taking part in a bid-ridding scheme involving the sale and marketing of financial products to non-profit organizations, including municipalities.

Per their Formal Agreement, the bank must pay profits and prejudgment interest from 38 collateralized certificate of deposit transactions to the non-profits that suffered financial harm in the scam. Total payment is $9,217,218.


Related Web Resources:
Bank of America settles allegations of kickbacks, collusion, Los Angeles Times, December 8, 2010

Bank of America to Pay $137 Million in Muni Cases, Bloomberg, December 7, 2010

OCC, Bank of America Enter Agreement Requiring Payment of Profits Plus Interest to Municipalities Harmed by Bid-Rigging on Financial Products, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, December 7, 2010

Bank of America, Stockbroker Fraud Blog

Continue reading "Bank of America to Pay $137M Over Alleged Investment Scam To Pay Municipalities Low Interest Rates on Investments and $9M Over Alleged Bid-Rigging Scheme to Nonprofits " »

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