To settle a securities lending lawsuit filed by the AFTRA Retirement Fund, the Investment Committee of the Manhattan and Bronx Surface Transit Operating System, and the Imperial County Employees’ Retirement System, JPMorgan Chase & Co. will pay $150 million. The union pension funds are blaming the financial firm for losses that they sustained through its securities lending program. A district court will have to approve the settlement.
JPMorgan had invested their money in Sigma Finance Corp. medium term notes, which is a financial instrument that has since failed. However, billions of dollars of repurchase financing was extended to Sigma in the process.
The securities claims accused JPMorgan of violating the Employee Retirement Income Security Act and its state-imposed fiduciary obligations when it invested in Sigma. The plaintiffs contend that financial firm should have known that the investment was a poor one.
Per the union pension funds’ contracts with JPMorgan, the investment bank is only supposed to put their money in investment vehicles that are low-risk and conservative. They believe that the Sigma vehicle did not meet that standard.
The consolidated class action alleges that JPMorgan foresaw Sigma’s impending failure, took part in predatory repo arrangements with significant discounts in order to pick the best of Sigma’s assets in its portfolio, and reduced the quality and quantity of these assets by taking title to assets in an amount that was nearly a billion dollars more than the financing it gave.
The Board of Trustees of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) Retirement Fund, which initially brought the class action case, contended that JPMorgan made close to $2 billion profit, even as the notes were left with almost no value. Last year, a year after the court certified the class action case, a judge gave partial summary judgment to the financial firm.
The plaintiffs believe that the securities lawsuit brought up a number of key factual and legal matters under New York common law and ERISA and that this made the case very hard to litigate. They say the $150 million proposed settlement is a representation of 30 – 100% of the potential provable losses if liability were to be set up for a certain breach date. Therefore, seeing as a trial could have led to a wide range of potential damage results, the settlement figure represents an appropriate range of recovery
JPMorgan Agrees to Pay $150M To Settle Securities Lending Lawsuit, Bomberg, March 20, 2012
JPMorgan to pay $150 million over failed Sigma SIV, Reuters, March 20, 2012
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