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SEC vs Citigroup CDOs RMBS and Class v III Funding Comp-pr2011-214

SEC vs Citigroup CDOs RMBS and Class v III Funding Comp-pr2011-214

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Published by: Carrieonic on Aug 20, 2013
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03/22/2014

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UNIT~D
STATES DISTRICT
CdUR}i)1'il'\Ul
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF
EW,¥U~ii
WI
U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGECOMMISSION,Plaintiff,v.CITIGROUP GLOBAL MARKETS INC.,Defendant.COMPLAINT
ll-CV
----~
ECFCASE
Plaintiff Securities and Exchange Commission ("Commission") alleges as followsagainst the defendant Citigroup Global Markets Inc. ("Citigroup Global Markets"):
SUMMARY
1.
The Commission brings this securities fraud action against Citigroup GlobalMarkets (along with certain affiliates, "Citigroup"), based on its role in the structuring andmarketing
of
a largely synthetic collateralized debt obligation ("CDO") called Class VFunding
III
("Class V III"). The investment portfolio for Class V
III
consisted primarily
of
credit default swaps ("CDS") referencing other CDO securities with collateral consistingprimarily
of
subprime residential mortgage-backed securities ("RMBS"). As a result, thevalue
of
Class V
III
and its underlying investment portfolio was tied to the United Statesresidential housing market. Citigroup structured and marketed this
$1
billion "CDO-squared" in early 2007 when the U.S. housing market and securities linked to the U.S.housing market were already beginning to show signs
of
distress. CDO-squared transactionssuch as ClassV
III
were designed to, and did, provide leveraged exposure to the housingmarket and therefore magnified the severity
of
losses suffered by investors when the UnitedStates housing market experienced a downturn.
 
2.
Citigroup's marketing materials for Class V III -including a pitch book andoffering circular -represented that the investment portfolio was selected by Credit SuisseAlternative Capital, Inc. ("CSAC"), a registered investment adviser that was promoted ashaving experience and expertise in analyzing credit risk in CDOs, using an extensivelydescribed asset selection process. The marketing materials failed
to
disclose to investors thatCitigroup had exercised significant influence over the selection
of
$500 million
of
the assetsin the Class V III investment portfolio, and that Citigroup had retained a short position inthose assets. Citigroup established its short position by entering into CDS on assets that ithelped select for Class V III. By taking a short position with respect to the assets that it hadhelped select, Citigroup profited from the poor performance
of
those assets, while investorsin Class V III suffered losses. The CDO securities on which Citigroup bought protection hada notional value
of
approximately $500 million, representing
half
of
the
ClassY
IIIinvestment portfolio. The marketing materials Citigroup prepared and distributed toinvestors did not disclose Citigroup's role in selecting assets for Class V III and did notaccurately disclose to investors Citigroup's short position on those assets.
3.
In sum, the marketing materials were materially misleading because theysuggested that Citigroup was acting in the traditional role
of
an arranging bank, when in factCitigroup had exercised significant influence over the selection
of
the assets and had retaineda $500 million proprietary short position
ofthe
assets it had helped select, which gaveCitigroup undisclosed economic interests adverse to those
of
the investors in Class
V.
4.
Class V III closed on February 28, 2007. At closing, Citigroup was paidapproximately $34 million in fees for structuring and marketing Class V III.
On
or about thatdate and in the following weeks, Citigroup sold approximately $343 million
of
Class V III2
 
equity and mezzanine liabilities ('"notes") to approximately fourteen (14) institutionalinvestors ('"Subordinate Investors"), all
of
whom received some
or
all
of
the marketingmaterials for Class V
III.
The
Subordinate Investors included hedge funds, investmentmanagers and other CDO vehicles. On or about March 16, 2007, Ambac Credit Products('"Ambac"), an affiliate
of
Ambac Assurance Corporation, a monoline insurance company,agreed to sell protection to an affiliate
of
Citigroup on the $500 million super senior tranche
of
Class V III, meaning that Ambac effectively invested in that tranche by assuming thecredit risk associated with that portion
of
the capital structure via CDS in exchange forpremium payments. The transaction with Ambac was intermediated
by
BNP Paribas("BNP"), a European financial institution (together with Ambac, the "Super SeniorInvestors"). Citigroup provided the marketing materials for Class V
III
to Ambac and BNPin connection with their decision to sell protection on the super senior tranche
of
Class V III.
5.
By November 6, 2007, approximately 83%
of
the CD Os in the Class V IIIinvestment portfolio had been downgraded by rating agencies. Class V
III
declared an event
of
default on November 19, 2007. As a result
of
the poor performance
of
the investmentportfolio, the Subordinate Investors and Super Senior Investors lost several hundred milliondollars. Through its fees and its short positions, Citigroup realized net profits
of
at least $160million in connection with Class V
III.
6.
By engaging
in
the conduct described herein, Citigroup Global Marketsviolated Sections 17(a)(2) and (3)
of
the Securities Act
of
1933 [15
U.S.c.
§§77q(a)(2) and(3)] ("Securities Act") by negligently misrepresenting key deal terms, namely the process bywhich the investment portfolio was selected and Citigroup's financial interest in thetransaction. The Commission seeks injunctive relief, disgorgement
of
profits, prejudgment3

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