Citigroup Ordered to Defend Against Securities Fraud Allegations by Terra Securities of Norway and Several Norwegian Municipalities

A district court judge has denied Citigroup‘s motion that the securities fraud lawsuit filed against it by Terra Securities of Norway and seven Norwegian municipalities be dismissed. The plaintiffs claim that Citi misrepresented the risk involved in the $115 million in securities they bought in May and June 2007. They are seeking over $200 million in compensatory damages.

Judge Victor Morrero rejected Citibank’s claim that the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York lacked jurisdiction over the case because the financial losses happened in Norway. The plaintiffs had argued that their securities fraud claims are a result of Citigroup’s conduct in New York.

In their securities fraud complaint, the plaintiffs are claiming that Citigroup sold fund-linked securities as if they were conservative, safe investments. In fact, the notes, which were tied to the Citi Tender Option Bond Fund, are very high risk.
The municipalities bought the derivatives through Terra.

In the months following their purchase, the notes would go on to significantly drop in value. Terra went bankrupt and the municipalities had to reduce funding that was intended for hospitals, libraries, schools, and social services. One of the plaintiffs, the municipality of Narvik, was forced to turn off street and road lights at night. This is an area experiences limited daylight hours during the winter. The other municipalities that are plaintiffs of this securities fraud lawsuit are Bremanger, Hemnes, Hattfjelldal, Rana, Kvinesdal, and Vik.

The plaintiffs’ securities fraud lawyer says that the judge’s ruling affirms foreign plaintiffs’ right to sue Citigroup for alleged fraud that occurred in NY over notes that were marketed abroad. Citigroup, which had pushed to have the case heard in Norway or England, denies any wrongdoing. The investment bank says it will vigorously defend against the charges.

Related Web Resources:
Citigroup Must Defend Norwegians’ Lawsuit Over Notes, BusinessWeek, February 17, 2010

Citigroup Must Defend Suit Over Derivatives Sales In Norway, Wall Street Journal, February 17, 2010
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