Securities Fraud Lawsuit Against UBS AG Gets Added Steam with Employee Email Calling Collateralized Debt Obligations “Vomit”

UBS AG must post a $35.6 million bond, says Superior Court Judge John Blawie. Blawie says that hedge fund Pursuit Partners, LLC has sufficient evidence to pursue its securities fraud case claiming that the investment bank knew it was selling collateralized debt obligations that were toxic to institutional investors but did nothing to inform clients about the risks.

Blawie cited an e-mail written by a UBS employee that called the asset-backed securities “vomit.” Another e-mail noted that UBS was selling Pursuit CDOs that were “crap.”

The judge is letting the securities fraud complaint go forward without ruling on the case’s merits. Between July and October 2007, UBS sold the hedge fund CDOs valued at $40.5 million. Following the global credit crisis, there has been $1.7 trillion in losses and writedowns.

UBS employees marketed the CDOs to Pursuit while they were communicating with Moody’s Investors Services Inc. The credit-rating agency was tasked with reviewing UBS’s CDO investment grade ratings. Blawie says that the UBS employees found out after meeting with Moody’s that the CDOs would become “financial toxic waste.”

The securities fraud lawsuit claims that UBS new that Moody’s was going to change its rater’s methodology but that the investment bank continued to promote the CDOs as if the changes were not going to happen. When Moody’s tchanged its market-based formula to focus on where prices were going instead of current prices, the CDOs value immediately fell.

Pursuit contends that it suffered a $35.6 million loss as a result of UBS concealing the non-public data it had about the CDOs investment grade rating dropping. It also says that because UBS took two sides of a derivatives contract, the investment bank was able to liquidate the CDOs and did not sustain losses.

UBS denies the allegations and argues that Pursuit knew the risks that came with buying the CDOs. The investment bank claims that the hedge fund made the purchases at hugely discounted rates as high as 96%. UBS spokesperson said that one e-mail from Pursuit called the CDOs “sh__.”

Moody’s is also a defendant in the securities fraud lawsuit.

Related Web Resources:
Lawsuit Against UBS Resurfaces to Threaten Wall Street Itself, Seeking Alpha, September 15, 2009
UBS Hit by Another Lawsuit, Business Week, March 6, 2008

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