LINDEEN ANNOUNCES $9.5 MILLON SETTLEMENT WITH CITIGROUP TO RESOLVE ALLEGATIONS OF DISHONEST AND UNETHICAL CONDUCT
More Montanans Victims to Receive Restitution
Helena – More Montana investors who lost millions in auction rate securities will be getting their money back. Montana State Auditor and Commissioner of Securities Monica Lindeen today announced a settlement with Citigroup Global Markets in regard to action rate securities.
“This settlement illustrates the determination of the State Auditor’s Office to protect Montana’s consumers,” said Lindeen. “Using all of the tools available to this office, we can ensure that Montanans get a fair shake.”
Lindeen’s office finalized a settlement with Citigroup Global Markets, Inc. (Citi) that will provide $9,505,000 to Montana investors who invested in auction rate securities before the market for the securities froze in February 2008. Citigroup also paid a $121,513.30 fine that will be deposited to the state’s general fund. Last week, Lindeen’s office announced a similar settlement with Wachovia.
“This settlement sends a clear message to any corporation dealing with Montana families; we have a zero-tolerance policy for misconduct, and you will be held accountable.” said Lindeen.
The settlement resolves a multi-state investigation into allegations that Citi misled investors regarding the liquidity risks associated with auction rate securities (ARS) that they underwrote, marketed and sold. According to complaints received from investors throughout the country, Citi misrepresented to customers that ARS were safe, highly liquid investments that were comparable to money markets. In late 2007 and early 2008, investors alleged Citi knew that the ARS market was deteriorating and began purchasing additional inventory to prevent failed auctions. Investors complained that by February 2008, Citi stop supporting the ARS market, leaving its customers throughout the country holding billions of dollars in illiquid ARS.
Auction-rate securities are preferred shares or debt instruments such as corporate or municipal bonds. They have a long-term maturity and are sold at monthly or weekly auctions, and until recently were treated by many investors as cash investments. However, the auction-rate security market collapsed, bringing auctions to a halt and leaving investors illiquid investments.
"My office will continue to aggressively investigate whether other broker-dealers and individuals have failed to disclose to investors material risks about ARS that they marketed and sold. We also look forward to finalizing at least ten more settlements with additional brokerage firms regarding ARS securities in the upcoming months,” said Lindeen.
Montanans that feel they have been treated unfairly by an insurance company or who believe they have been the victims of fraud should call the Montana State Auditor’s office at 1-800-332-6148 or in Helena at 444-2040.