U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff has turned down the proposed $285M settlement between the SEC and Citigroup Global Markets Inc. However, unlike with the SEC’s tentative $33M settlement with Bank of America that he rejected, eventually approving a $150 million settlement between both parties-this time, Rakoff is ordering the SEC and Citigroup to trial.
The SEC claimed Citigroup sold Class V Funding III right as the housing market fell apart in 2007 and then bet against the $1 billion mortgage-linked collateralized debt obligation. Meantime, the financial firm allegedly failed to tell clients about this conflict of interest. Investors would go on to lose nearly $700 million over the CDO, while Citigroup ended up making about $160 million.
To many observers, Rakoff’s decision doesn’t come as a surprise. He has expressed concern with the SEC’s handling of securities cases for some time. In his ruling today, Rakoff was very clear in stating that he didn’t believe the tentative agreement was “fair… reasonable… adequate, nor in the public interest.” He also called for the “underlying facts” and made it clear that the SEC’s typical boilerplate settlement, which usually involves the other party agreeing to the terms but not admitting to or denying wrongdoing, was not going to suffice.
Until now, the SEC’s settlement policy has allowed the Commission to declare a victory while letting defendants get away with not acknowledging any wrongdoing so that private plaintiffs cannot use such an outcome in litigation against them. Now, however, Rakoff wants the court and the public to actually learn whether or not Citigroup acted improperly.
Also in his opinion, Rakoff spoke about how the current settlement doesn’t do anything for the investors that Citigroup allegedly defrauded of hundreds of millions of dollars. Not only that but the SEC isn’t promising to compensate the alleged securities fraud victims.
For now, the trial between Citigroup and the SEC is scheduled for July 2012. However, the Commission could decide to appeal Rakoff’s ruling and ask an appellate court to either make him accept the $285 million settlement or appoint a new judge to the case. According to the New York Times, however, this could prove challenging because a writ of mandamus would be required.
Our securities fraud law firm has had it with financial firms defrauding investors and then getting away with this type of misconduct. It is our job to help our clients recoup their losses whether via arbitration or in court.
More Blog Posts:
Citigroup’s $285M Mortgage-Related CDO Settlement with Raises Concerns About SEC’s Enforcement Practices for Judge Rakoff, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, November 9, 2011
Bank of America To Settle SEC Charges Regarding Merrill Lynch Acquisition Proxy-Related Disclosures for $150 Million, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, February 15, 2010
Ex-Goldman Sachs Director Rajat Gupta Pleads Not Guilty to Insider Trading Charges, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, October 26, 2011
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