Articles Posted in Life Settlements

To settle a private securities lawsuit in the US alleging Libor manipulation, HSBC Holdings Plc. (HSBC) has agreed to pay $100M. The bank is accused of conspiring to rig the London interbank offered rated (Libor) benchmark. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are a number “over-the-counter” investors, including Yale University and the Maryland city of Baltimore, that dealt directly with banks belonging to the panel tasked with determining the key benchmark interest rate. Now, a court will have to approve the preliminary settlement.

The plaintiffs sued 16 banks for alleged Libor rigging in 2011. According to their case, HSBC and other banks conspired together to submit artificially low borrowing costs so that they could appear more financially robust and increase earnings. These lower borrowing costs led to a lower Libor, which had an adverse effect on institutions and persons that invested in pension funds, money market funds, mutual funds, the bond market, a number of derivative products, and bank loan funds.

Libor is the benchmark used to establish rates on hundreds of trillions of dollars of transactions, including those involving credit cards, student loans, and mortgages. It also allows the banks to figure out what it would cost them to borrow from one another.

Continue reading

Citigroup (C) Inc. has agreed to pay $23M in an institutional investor fraud lawsuit accusing the bank of conspiring to manipulated the Euroyen Tibor and yen Libor benchmark interest rates and Euroyen Tibor futures contracts. Plaintiff investors included hedge fund Hayman Capital Management LP and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System. They contend that Citigroup and other banks benefited their trading positions from ‘06 through at least ’10 when they conspired to manipulate rates. As part of the settlement Citigroup said it would cooperate with the plaintiffs, whose lawsuits are still pending against other banks.

Also settling but without having to anything is broker-dealer RP Martin. Defendants that have yet to settle include Barclays Plc (BARC), JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), Deutsche Bank AG (DB), UBS AG (UBS), HSBCA Holdings Plc (HSBC), Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Holdings Inc., and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc.

Continue reading

House Financial Services subcommittee Chairman Scott Garrett (R-N.J.) is encouraging the Securities and Exchange Commission to refrain from rulemaking for establishing a uniform fiduciary standard that would apply to both broker-dealers and investment advisers unless the federal agency can come up with adequate evidence to support this action. Garrett made his views known at a Subcommittee on Capital Markets and Government Sponsored Enterprises oversight hearing. Committee Chairman Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) and Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) also echoed these same sentiments.

Says Shepherd Smith Edwards & Kantas LTD LLP Founder and Securities Fraud Attorney William Shepherd, “Washington is again bowing to Wall Street pressure to exempt them from liability for their wrongful acts. It is incredible that, considering the unmitigated investment fraud perpetrated on the American public in the last decade, Congress would even consider thwarting the very investors who elected them from receiving the justice they deserve!”

Under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act’s Section 913, the SEC has the authority to start up the rulemaking for this uniform fiduciary standard but is under no obligation. Earlier this year, the SEC put out a report recommending that it take up this rulemaking.

While Garrett questioned whether “hard factual data” existed demonstrating that a suitability standard is not enough to protect investors, others noted that it is a fiduciary standard and not a suitability standard that addresses cost, which impacts investors’ long-term performance. The majority of those that testified at the hearing also supported a uniform fiduciary standard that would apply to both investment advisers and broker-dealers. Consumer Federation of America director of investor protection Barbara Roper said that investors lose money when the person giving them investment advice must only meet a suitability standard and not a fiduciary one.

Meantime, while financial industry representatives have expressed support for a uniform fiduciary standard for investment advisers and broker-dealers, they don’t believe that it could be properly executed under the 1940 Investment Advisers Act.

Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association senior managing director and general counsel Ira Hammerman has said that the Act is unable to work with the business models for broker-dealer, while Financial Services Institute government affairs director and general counselor David Bellaire said that imposing a 1940 Act fiduciary duty on broker-dealers would decrease investor choice and decrease services, which would all significantly affect the market.

Currently, broker-dealers have to abide by a suitability standard, which is more lenient than the fiduciary duty standard for investment advisers. SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro has told staff that they need to recommend a proposal before the year is over.

Also up for discussion was the draft that Senator Bachus released last month mandating that there be at least one self-regulatory organization tasked with overseeing investment advisers. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority is a top candidate for the role and has expressed interest in taking on this new responsibility. However, not everyone is a supporter of FINRA becoming SRO.

Republicans Urge SEC Not to Take Up Rulemaking on Uniform Fiduciary Standard, BNA, September 14, 2011

More Blog Posts:

Most Investors Want Fiduciary Standard for Investment Advisers and Broker-Dealers, Say Trade Groups to SEC, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, October 12, 2010

Fiduciary Standard in Securities Industry Doesn’t Need New Definition, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, November 26, 2010

FINRA Will Customize Oversight to Investment Adviser Industry if Chosen as Its SRO, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, April 8, 2011

Continue reading

American International Group Inc. (AIG) is trying to get credit-ratings firms and investors to get behind the sale of life settlements, which are securities backed by the life insurance polices of older people. Per the insurer’s recent proposal, a subsidiary of AIG’s Chartis property casualty unit would collateralize notes valued at $900 million with 1,157 policies. AIG would like to sell $250 million to outside investors.

So far, AIG’s efforts have been met with resistance. It doesn’t help that Standard & Poor’s won’t rate the securities, which could help rally investors. In fact, S & P’s March report emphasizes the securities “unique risks.” It doesn’t help that some critics call these securities “collateralized death obligations,” “blood pools,” or “death bonds” because they pay off upon the insured’s death.

Investors who buy life settlements are betting that the benefits they get upon the insured’s death will be greater than the cash they’ve paid for both the policy and its premiums. However, due to the 2008 credit crisis or because some of the insured ended up living longer than expected, many life settlement investors have lost money on these securities. Securities lawsuits have followed and the market has stayed depressed. AIG says that as of the end of 2010, it has paid over $177.8 million to settle 479 claims. In exchange, it received the policies. Per AIG’s financial filings, the insurer has about $18 billion in anticipated death benefits. That’s more than 1/3rd of the approximately $45 billion in these benefits that have changed hands in the last decade.

The Wall Street Journal reports that generally, life insurers consider investor ownership of policies—especially involving those betting on someone’s death—as not good for the industry. There are even some insurance companies that have gone to court claiming that they were misled buy buyers who said they wanted policies for estate planning when, in fact, they actually wanted to flip them for investors.

Our institutional investment fraud law firm are dedicated to helping investors recoup their losses.

AIG Tries to Sell Death-Bet Securities, The Wall Street Journal, April 22, 2011

Seniors Beware: What you should know about life settlements, FINRA

Life Settlement Securitizations Present Unique Risks, Standard and Poor’s

More Blog Posts:
Texas Lawyer Pleads Guilty to Involvement in Alleged $100M Life Settlement Scheme, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, December 7, 2010

Life Settlements or Viaticals should be Considered “Securities,” Recommends the SEC to Congress
, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, August 5, 2010

Securitization of Life Insurance Settlements Might Lead to Next Financial Crisis, Say Lawmakers, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, September 27, 2009

Continue reading