Credit Suisse Group AG Must Pay ST Microelectronics NV $431 Million Auction-Rate Securities Arbitration Award

U.S. District Judge Deborah Batts says that Credit Suisse Group AG must pay STMicroelectronics NV the rest of the $431 million arbitration award owed for unauthorized auction-rate securities-related investments. FINRA had issued the securities fraud award last year.

STMicroelectronics NV says that Credit Suisse invested in high risk securities, including ARS with collateralized debt obligations, for the company when the investment bank was only supposed to invest in student loans backed by the US government. The European-based semiconductor maker sued Credit Suisse when the ARS’ value dropped. STMicro accused the broker-dealer of securities fraud, unjust enrichment, breach of contract, failure to supervise, and breach of fiduciary duty.

A FINRA panel ruled in favor of STMicro, awarding the company $400 million in compensatory damages, $3 million in expert witness and legal fees, and $1.5 million in financing fees, while directing Credit Suisse to pay 4.64% on the illiquid ARS in STMicro’s account until the fees and damages were paid.

Credit Suisse sought to vacate the FINRA award and argued that a panel arbitrator had been prejudicial toward the investment bank. The broker-dealer also accused the panel of disregarding the law. The court, however, decided that Credit Suisse’s claims were meritless. The remaining balance owed to STMicroelectronics is approximately $354 million, including $23 million in interest.

Earlier this year, Credit Suisse broker Eric Butler received a 5-year prison sentence for selling subprime securities to investors. His fraudulent actions cost them over $1.1 billion.

Since the ARS market meltdown in February 2008, at least 19 broker-dealers and underwriters have been sued. Regulators forced some of them to repurchase billions of dollars worth of auction-rate securities.

Our Shepherd Smith Edwards and Kantas founder and Stockbroker fraud lawyer William Shepherd says, “One issue which investors face when they are required to arbitrate is that they have little hope of appealing the arbitrators’ award if he/she lose. However, this works both ways: It is also very difficult for the brokerage firm to appeal as well, and few even try. Thus, an investor can finish a case, win, and get paid in about a year. In court, the process can drag out for 5 years or more.”

Credit Suisse Ordered to Pay STMicroelectronics Award, BusinessWeek/Bloomberg, March 24, 2010
STMicroelectronics Sues Credit Suisse Over Securities, NY Times, August 7, 2008
FINRA Awards STMicroelectronics $406 Million Against Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC, STMicroelectronics, February 16, 2009
Our stockbroker fraud lawyers represent clients that were unable to access their funds when the ARS market collapsed.