Securities Fraud Lawsuit Against Citigroup Involving Mortgage-Related Risk Results in Mixed Ruling

According to a district court ruling, investors can proceed with certain securities fraud charges against Citigroup and a number of its directors over the alleged misrepresenting of the risks involved in mortgage-related investments (including auction-rate securities, collateralized debt obligations, Alt-A residential mortgage-backed securities, and structured investment vehicles). However, the majority of claims involving pleading inadequacies have been dismissed. The securities lawsuit seeks to represent persons that bought Citigroup common stock between January 2004 and January 15, 2009.

Current and ex-Citigroup shareholders have said that as a result of the securities fraud, which involved the misrepresentation of the risks involved via exposure to collateralized debt obligations, they ended up paying an inflated stock price. The plaintiffs are accusing several of the defendants of selling significant amounts of Citigroup stock during the class period. They also say that seven of the individual defendants certified the accuracy of certain Securities and Exchange Commission filings that were allegedly fraudulent. They plaintiffs are claiming that there were SEC filings that violated accounting rules because of the failure to report CDO exposure and value such holdings with accuracy.

The plaintiffs claim that the defendants intentionally hid the fact that billions of dollars in CDOs hadn’t been bought. They also said that defendants made misleading statements that did not properly make clear the subprime risks linked to the Citigroup CDO portfolio.

The defendants submitted a dismissal motion, which the court granted for the most part. Although the court is letting certain CDO-related claims to move forward, it agrees with the defense that because the plaintiffs failed to raise an inference of scienter before February 2007 (when the investment bank started buying insurance for its most high risk CDO holdings), the claims for that period cannot be maintained. The court also held that the plaintiffs failed to plead that seven of the individual defendants had been aware of Citigroup’s CDO operations. As a result, the court determined that there can be no finding of scienter in regards to the individuals.

The court, however, did that the plaintiffs adequately pleaded securities fraud claims against Citigroup, Gary Crittenden, Charles Prince, Thomas Maheras, Robert Druskin, David C. Bushnell, Michael Stuart Klein, and Robert Rubin for misstatements made about the bank’s CDO exposure between February and November 3, 2007. The plaintiffs also adequately pleaded securities fraud claims against Citigroup and Crittenden for Nov. 4, 2007, to April 2008 period.

Related Web Resource:
Citigroup Inc. Securities Litigation (PDF)

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