The Resolution Law Group: Deutsche Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland Settle & Others for More than $2.3B with European Union Over Interbank Offered Rates

Deutsche Bank (DB) has announced that as part of a collective settlement, it will pay $992,329,000 to settle investigations involving interbank offered rates, including probes into the trading of Euro interest rate derivatives and interest rate derivatives for the Yen.

Also paying fines as part of the collective settlement are Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc (RBS) which will pay $535,173,000 and Society General SA (SLE), which will pay $610,454,000, and three others. In total, the financial firms will pay a record $2.3 billion.

The fines are for manipulating the Euribor and the Yen London interbank offered rate. EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said that regulators would continue to look into other cases linked to currency trading and Libor. Also related to these probes, Citigroup (C) has been fined $95,811,100, while JPMorgan (JPM) is paying $108M. Because of Citigroup’s cooperation into this matter, it avoided paying an additional $74.6 million. The two firms reportedly admitted that they were part of the Yen Libor financial derivatives cartel.

Almunia said that transcripts of Internet conversations exist documenting collusion between traders. According to Bloomberg News, which obtained excerpts of charts that the EU used in its investigation, one trader usually requested that a few banks set low or high fixings for a benchmark rate. (This month, Deutsche Bank barred multi-party chat rooms at its currency trading and fixed-income outfits.)

The setting of Yen Libor and European Libor were part of attempts by financial firms to make money in the financial derivatives connected to the benchmarks. Because UBS (UBS) and Barclays (BARC) notified the authorities about these activities first, they were not fined in the cartel matter, although regulators had fined them previously over Libor manipulation.

The Resolution Law Group represents institutional investors and high net worth individuals with securities claims against financial institutions, broker-dealers, investment advisers, brokers, hedge funds, mutual funds, and others. Your initial case assessment with us is free.

The Resolution Law Group: FDIC Sued by JPMorgan Chase in $1B Securities Case Involving Washington Mutual Purchase & Mortgage-Backed Securities

JPMorgan Chase (JPM) is suing the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. for over $1 billion dollars related to the bank’s purchase of Washington Mutual (WMIH). The financial firm said that the FDIC did not honor its duties per the purchase agreement.

When Washington Mutual suffered the biggest bank failure in our nation’s history during the financial crisis in 2008, FDIC became its receiver and brokered the sale of assets. JPMorgan, which made the purchase for $1.9 billion, says that the FDIC promised to protect or indemnify the bank from liabilities. Regulators had encouraged the firm to buy Washington Mutual hoping this would help bring back stability to the banking system.

Since then, however, contends JPMorgan, the FDIC has refused to acknowledge mortgage-backed securities claims by investors and the government against the firm. The bank says that the cases should have been made against the receivership instead. (In its lawsuit, JPMorgan says there are enough assets in the receivership to cover a settlement with mortgage companies Freddie Mac (FMCC) and Fannie Mae (FNMA) and other claims, such as a slip and fall personal injury case involving a Washington Mutual branch.) Meantime, the FDIC maintains that JPMorgan is the one who should be accountable for any liabilities from its acquisition of Washington Mutual.

Since 2008, JPMorgan has agreed to multiple MBS settlements. Investors lost millions from bundled mortgages as the housing market crumbled and they wanted their money back. Recent settlements include last month’s $13 billion deal with the Justice Department and state regulators over mortgage-linked bonds, and another $4.5 million agreement with 21 institutional investors.

JPMorgan also says that it wants the FDIC receivership to separately take care of possible damages from the litigation brought by Deutsche Bank National Trust Company. The latter wants up to $10 billion on behalf of over 100 trusts that have Washington Mutual-issued bonds that have performed poorly.

If you suspect you sustained losses caused by institutional investor securities fraud, contact The The Resolution Law Group today.

The JOBS Act: SEC Proposes Raising Small Stock Deal Limits

The US Securities and Exchange Commission wants to up by 10 times how much money companies can raise via a simplified public offering. Under their proposal, firms could raise up to $50 million, instead of just $5 million, while giving investors less disclosures than what public companies are obligated to provide. The measure, which has just been issued for public comment, is the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act’s last big requirement.

The JOBS Act was established to assist small business in going public and raising capital. Currently, it lets the SEC preempt states from overseeing Regulation A offerings if only “qualified” buyers are allowed to purchase the the deals or if they are offered via a stock exchange. However, the SEC has to approve the offerings and companies employing the exemption have to get approval by regulators in each state where shares were sold. It is this review by the states of Regulation A deals that reportedly have been a biggest hassle because each state has its own standards for whether to approve offers.

It was Congress and the 2012 Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act that mandated revisions to the Commission’s Regulation A so that investors will want to get behind smaller companies. According to a Government Accountability Office report, in 2011, the number of businesses trying to raise money under the current rule dropped to 19—way down from the 116 businesses that did in 1997. Some said that the requirements were too strict for how much money they were allowed to raise.

With the SEC’s proposal, referred to as “Regulation A-plus,” deals between $5 million and $50 million would be exempt from state oversight but they would have to meet additional regulatory obligations, such as they would have to investors audited financial statements, reports about material events, and semi-yearly and yearly reports. Investors would have a cap on how much stock they could buy, with individual investments limited to not greater than 10% of a person’s net worth or yearly income. Securities could be traded freely.

Deals under $5 million would still have to undergo state review. However, companies could choose to get out of state scrutiny of smaller deals if they submit financial statements that have been audited and contend with the other requirements that larger offerings have to meet.

The SEC’s unanimous vote on this proposal is the third rule that the regulator has brought forward under the JOBS ACT. Previous proposed rules involved one to allow equity crowdfunding and removing the ban on advertising of private stock deals.

The Resolution Law Group is a securities law firm that represents institutional investors and high net worth individuals seeking to pursue their financial losses caused by securities fraud. Contact us today.

The Resolution Law Group: The Volcker Rule May Already Be Affecting Financial Markets & The Economy

According to The Wall Street Journal, it’s just been a week since regulators approved the Volcker Rule and already investors and financial institutions are looking for new ways to finance municipal bond investments. The Volcker rule limits how much risk federally insured depository institutions can take, prohibiting proprietary trading, setting up obstacles for banks that take part in market timing, and tightening up on compensation agreements that used to serve as incentive for high-risk trading.

Now, says Forbes, Wall Street and its firms are undoubtedly trying to figure out how to get around the rule via loopholes, exemptions, new ways of interpreting the rule, etc. (One reason for this may be that how much executives are paid is dependent upon the amount they make from speculative trading.) The publication says that banks are worried that the Volcker Rule could cost them billions of dollars.

For example, with tender-option bond transactions, hedge funds, banks, and others employ short-terming borrowings to pay for long-term muni bonds. The intention is to make money off of the difference in interest they pay lenders and what they make on the bonds. While tender-option bonds make up just a small section of the $3.7 trillion muni debt market, it includes debt that has been popular with Eaton Vance (EV), Oppenheimer Funds, and others.

Under the Volcker Rule, big banks will no longer be able to deal in tender-option bonds the way they are structured, which is expected to curb new bond issuance and lower tradings (and why banks are likely scrambling to figure out how else they can finance municipal bonds). Already, the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association is setting up a group to determine how its members can employ leverage to get into municipal debt.

Meantime, midsize and smaller banks are getting ready to sell collateralized debt obligations because of a provision under the rule that restricts certain risky investments. The Volcker Rule limits banks in their investing in collateralized debt obligations backed by securities that are trust-preferred. (A lot of smaller institutions issued these securities before the financial crisis.)

Now, banks such as Zions Bancorp (ZION) will have to sell some CDOs. Zion is expected to take a $387M charge to write down the securities’ value. The bank is concerned that under the Volcker Rule, the securities would be “disallowed investments.”

Per the rule, the deadline for banks to get rid of its risky assets is July 21, 2015—although an extension can be obtained via the Federal Reserve. That said, banks do need to make an adjustment right away to the accounting treatment they’ve been using for the securities.

If you suspect that you suffered financial losses because of municipal bond fraud, contact The Resolution Law Group to find out whether you should file a securities fraud claim. Your case assessment with us is a no obligation, free consultation.

The Resolution Law Group: Merrill Lynch Settles with SEC Over CDO Disclosures for Almost $132M

The Securities and Exchange Commission says that Merrill Lynch Pierce Fenner & Smith Inc. (MER) will pay $131.8M to settle charges involving allegedly faulty derivatives disclosures. The regulator claims that the firm, which is the largest broker-dealer by client assets, misled investors about certain structured debt products before the economic crisis. By settling, Merrill is not denying or agreeing to the allegations. Also, the brokerage firm was quick to note that the matter for dispute occurred before Bank of America (BAC) acquired it.

According to the Commission, in 2006 and 2007 Merrill Lynch did not tell investors that Magnetar Capital impacted the choice of collateral that was behind specific debt products. The hedge fund purportedly hedged stock positions by shorting against Norma CDO I Ltd. and Octans I CDO Ltd., which are two collateral debt obligations that the firm was selling to customers.

The SEC contends that Merrill used misleading collateral to market these CDO investments. According to Division of Enforcement co-director George Canellos, the materials depicted an independent process for choosing collateral that benefited long-term debt investors and customers did not know about the role Magnetar Capital was playing to choose the underlying portfolios.

Also sanctioned by the SEC were Joseph Parish and Scott Shannon, two managing partners of IR Capital Management LLC. This was the investment adviser that took care of choosing collateral for the CDO Norma. They are accused of compromising their supposed lack of bias by letting a third party with its own interests affect the portfolio-selection process. The SEC says Shannon accepted assets that Magnetar chose while Parish let the hedge fund impact how other assets were selected. The two men will pay over $472,000 to settle the allegations against them and they were suspended from the industry.

Meantime, the US government continues to pursue Wall Street firms over their alleged misconduct involving the mortgage-backed securities creation that is attributed to helping cause investor losses during the financial crisis and the housing slump. The SEC has also pursued claims against Citigroup Inc. (C), Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS), and JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) over their involvement in structuring and promoting investments linked to home loans that were faulty.

If you suspect that you have been the victim of securities fraud, contact The Resolution Law Group’s CDO fraud lawyers today.  The Resolution Law Group represents investors with securities claims against financial firms, investment advisers, brokerage firms, brokers, and others. Contact our securities fraud law firm.

The Resolution Law Group: 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.

The Resolution Law Group represents investors with securities claims against financial firms, investment advisers, brokerage firms, brokers, and others. Contact our securities fraud law firm today.

The Resolution Law Group: Three Ex-GE Bankers Convicted of Municipal Bond Bid Rigging Are Set Free

In a 2-1 ruling, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York panel has decided that three ex-General Electric Co. bankers charged with conspiring to bilk cities in a muni bond bid rigging scam can go free because the US government waited too long to prosecute them. Reversing last year’s convictions of Dominick Carollo, Steven Goldberg, and Peter Grimm, the court dismissed the criminal case against them and ordered that they be released from prison.

According to prosecutors, the three men worked with guaranteed investment contracts that allowed municipalities to make interest on money made from bond sales until they wanted to spend on local projects. The government believes that between August 1999 and May 2004 Carollo, Goldberg, and Grimm gave three brokers, including UBS PaineWebber, kickbacks to win actions for the contracts even if it meant the bank would make interest payments that were artificially low.

A federal jury convicted the former GE bankers of defrauding the country and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. They appealed, appealed, contending that the indictment on July 27, 2010 exceeded the statute of limitations, which is six years for conspiracy to bilk the US via tax law violations and five years for conspiracy. The government disagreed, arguing that the limitations’ statute went on as long as GE was paying rates that were not competitive.

Meantime, GE on Friday consented to settle for $18.25M a class action securities case over municipal bond fixing. The plaintiffs accused the company of rigging municipal bond bids. GE is among the financial firms and lenders accused of working together to rig prices for municipal derivatives. Investors say that the price fixing of the bonds violated antitrust laws and caused them to get lower interest rates.

GE had previously settled similar securities claims made by state attorneys general for $30 million, Three years ago it settled for $70 million municipal bond rigging allegations made by the US Justice Department.

If you are a municipal bond investor who suffered financial losses you think may be due to securities fraud, contact our municipal bond fraud law firm today. http://www.theresolutionlawgroup.com