Citigroup’s $285M Mortgage-Related CDO Settlement with Raises Concerns About SEC’s Enforcement Practices for Judge Rakoff

In Federal District Court today, Judge Jed S. Rakoff expressed concerns about the $285M securities settlement that Citigroup had reached with the Securities Exchange Commission. The financial firm was accused selling $1B in high-risk mortgage-linked collateralized debt obligation that it allegedly knew were at risk of failing. A federal judge must approve the settlement.

Rakoff is the same judge that wouldn’t approve Bank of America’s $33M securities settlement with the SEC for allegedly misleading investors. He later approved a revised settlement of $150 million.

At today’s hearing over the Citigroup deal, Rakoff said the settlement raises issues of concerns about the SEC’s enforcement practices. Approving the agreement would close the case on regulators’ claims that the financial firm.

While Rakoff has not yet made a decision about whether he will approve the settlement, he did question whether the SEC had any genuine desire to find out exactly what happened rather than just settling up. The SEC allows parties to settle without denying or admitting to any wrongdoing. Rakoff also raised concerns about the banks often break the promise they make when settling that they won’t violate securities laws in the future. This is the fifth time that Citigroup has settled securities claims with the SEC over alleged civil fraud. Rakoff also raised questions about why the bank’s settlement involves just a $95 million penalty when investors’ are estimated to have lost $700 million on the CDO.

Even though Citigroup didn’t jump into subprime mortgage loan packaging, it got involved in the housing boom just as that was reaching its heights As the market collapsed, Citigroup sustained over $30 billion in losses, and the government had to bail the bank out twice.

Last year, the financial firm consented to pay $75 million over allegations that it intentionally didn’t notify investors that their investment in the subprime mortgage market were declining in value when the financial crisis hit. Citigroup has since reorganized its risk management function

Citigroup’s $285M Settlement
The SEC claims Citigroup misled clients over a $1 billion derivatives deal involving Class V Funding III, which is a collateralized debt obligation. Not only did the financial firm select the portfolio but it also bet against it. Investors were not told of Citigroup’s conflicting allegiances and they sustained huge losses. Meantime, Citigroup made $126 million from taking a short position against the CDO’s assets, as well as another $34 million in fees.

Judge in Citigroup Mortgage Settlement Criticizes S.E.C.’s Enforcement, NY Times, November 9, 2011

Judge Dredd may scotch $285M Citi settlement: Attorney, Investment News, November 8, 2011

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

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

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

If you are an investor that sustained financial losses because of broker misconduct, contact our stockbroker fraud law firm immediately. Our securities fraud lawyers represent victims of institutional investment fraud.