Carolinas Healthcare System (CHS) is suing Wachovia Corp for alleged bad investments that resulted in losses valued at over $19 million. CHS is also accusing the bank of “directly misleading” it, misrepresenting the risks associated with the investments, and failing to follow the hospital system’s orders that it be withdrawn from the securities-lending program. Wachovia spokesperson Mary Eshet says that the company disagrees about the allegations, was always in compliance, and only made appropriate investments for CHS.
In 2003, according to the investment fraud lawsuit, Wachovia recommended that CHS take part in a securities-lending program. As a participant, a third party would borrow securities from CHS’s portfolio in return for collateral that would be invested by Wachovia until the securities were returned. This would also hopefully result in additional returns.
Per the agreement, Wachovia was only supposed to invest in safe, liquid, quality securities. Any time CHS opted to withdraw from the program, the hospital system was supposed to get all of its investments back within five business days. Also, Wachovia would be allowed to keep 40% of the profits on one account and 35% on the other account.
Last summer, CHS determined that the securities-lending program was proving too risky, especially with the markets collapsing. In September, CHS notified Wachovia to return all borrowed securities right away.
Wachovia couldn’t return all of the securities immediately. Wachovia had invested for CHS $14.9 million in Sigma Finance Corp-issued floating rate notes (now worth $750,000) and $5 million in Pricoa Global Funding floating-rate notes (now worth $4.95 million).
The lawsuit contends that Wachovia never notified Carolinas HealthCare System that the investments were not appropriate until CHS decided to end its participation in the securities-leading program. 5 days after Sigma went into receivership last October, Wachovia told the hospital system for the first time that its investment was, at that time, worth just $1.8 million. CHS says there is now no market for the Pricoa-related securities.
CHS contends that Wachovia gained 40% of the profits but did not suffer any of the losses. The hospital system is solely responsible for returning the lost collateral to its borrowers.
CHS sues Wachovia over investment advice, Charlotte Observer, January 15, 2009
CHS files suit vs. Wachovia over losses on investments, Charlotte Business Journal, January 9, 2009
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Carolinas HealthCare System