The California Public Employees’ Retirement System is suing Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., its ex-executives, and a number of bond underwriters for fraud and of making materially false statements about mortgage-backed securities losses. CalPERS, a $229 billion public pension fund, owned about $700 million Lehman bonds and 3.9 million shares of Lehman bonds when Lehman filed for bankruptcy in September 2008. Because of the economic crisis, CalPERS funds lost $100 billion in value from September 2008 and March 2009.
In its securities fraud complaint, CalPERS accused Lehman of “dramatically” borrowing to fund its real estate investments from 2004 to 2007—high-risk activity that investors were not told about. Other defendants include ex-Lehman Chief Executive Richard S. Fuld Jr., ex-Lehman Chief Financial Officers Erin Callan and Christopher O’Meara, 9 Lehman directors, and 33 others firms, including Wells Fargo Securities, Citigroup Global Markets Inc., and Mellon Financial Markets. The defendants allegedly failed to disclose not just Lehman’s exposure to Alt-A lending and subprime, but also its mortgage-related assets’ true value.
This securities complaint is CalPERS second action against members of Wall Street that sold mortgage-backed securities. In July 2009, CAlPERS sued Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s Investors Services Inc., and Fitch Inc. The complaint accused the financial rating companies of giving top grades to bonds that ended up sustaining huge financial losses when the subprime mortgage securities market collapsed.
Also, CalPERS has a shareholder lawsuit against Bank of America Corp. (BAC) over its Merrill Lynch acquisition. The pension fund also has a case against BofA’s Countrywide Financial.
Related Web Resources:
CalPERS suit accuses Lehman Bros. of fraud, Los Angeles Times, February 9, 2011