For $75 million, Citigroup will settle federal allegations that it failed to disclose that its subprime mortgage investments were failing while the market was collapsing. This is the first securities fraud case centered on whether investment banks fairly disclosed their own financial woes to shareholders.
Unlike the Goldman Sachs case, which resulted in a $550 settlement and involved allegations that the investment bank misled investors, Citigroup is accused of misleading its shareholders. This also marks the first time the SEC has filed securities fraud charges against very senior bank executives for their alleged roles in subprime mortgage bonds.
The SEC contends that Citigroup failed to reveal the true nature of its financial state until November 2007. Just that summer the investment bank told investors that it had about $13 billion of exposure to subprime mortgage related-assets that were declining in worth. However, Citigroup left out about $43 billion of exposure to similar assets that bank officials thought were very safe.
Key evidence against Citigroup centers on an announcement that it prepared for investors that cautioned that the quarter was likely going to be one of lower earnings in the fall of 2007. However, the investment bank did not reveal its full subprime exposure. Former Citigroup investor relations head Arthur Arthur Tildesley Jr., who has agreed to pay an $80,000 fine over allegations he omitted key information in the shareholder disclosures, is accused of preparing the statement. Former chief financial officer Gary L. Crittenden, who has settled the SEC case against him for $100,000, recorded the audio message to investors.
The government was eventually forced to bail out the investment bank. Citigroup is not admitting to or denying the charges by consenting to settle. Now, however, the investment bank has to defend itself from private shareholder complaints.
Related Web Resources:
SEC Charges Citigroup and Two Executives for Misleading Investors About Exposure to Subprime Mortgage Assets, SEC, July 29, 2010
Citigroup Pays $75 Million to Settle Subprime Claims, NY Times, July 29, 2010
Citigroup agrees $75m fraud fine, BBC News, July 29, 2010
If you believe that investment fraud may have contributed to your financial losses, contact our stockbroker fraud law firm.