Citigroup Inc., the third-largest U.S. bank by assets, has agreed to pay $730 million to settle claims it misled debt investors about its condition during the financial crisis. The deal would resolve a lawsuit by investors who bought Citigroup bonds and preferred stock from May 2006 through November 2008, the New York-based lender said in a recent statement. The settlement requires court approval and, according to Citigroup, it would be covered by existing litigation reserves.
Citigroup is among the Wall Street firms still dealing with the fallout from the crisis, when the bank almost collapsed amid losses tied to subprime mortgages and took a $45 billion bailout. The company has repaid the rescue. Last year, the firm agreed to pay $590 million to settle a lawsuit brought by stock investors who said they had been misled. Steven Singer, a partner at Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann, who represented the debt investors, told Bloomberg News that the company was being presented “to be in substantially stronger financial position” than it really was.
The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Manhattan in 2008, with investors claiming Citigroup misled purchasers of 48 issues of its corporate bonds. Plaintiffs in the case include the Louisiana Sheriffs’ Pension and Relief Fund, Minneapolis Firefighters’ Relief Association and the City of Philadelphia Board of Pensions and Retirement. Citigroup’s bonds dropped as losses piled up during the collapse of the U.S. mortgage market. Its $4 billion of ten-year notes, issued in November 2007, slid as low as 79.7 cents on the dollar in 2008, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The firm lost more than $29 billion in 2008 and 2009.
In 2010, U.S. District Judge Sidney Stein denied part of a motion by Citigroup to dismiss the case. Judge Stein threw out claims that involved alleged lack of disclosure about auction-rate securities and part of the Plaintiffs’ case related to structured investment vehicles. The Plaintiffs filed a memorandum of law with the court that they said “have concluded that the terms and conditions” of the accord “are fair and reasonable and in their best interest.” The case is In Re Citigroup Bond Litigation, 08-cv-09522, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
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