Settling a $285 Million Fine
In October 2011, Citigroup agreed to pay $285 million to settle charges that it misled investors in a $1 billion derivatives deal tied to the United States housing market, then bet against investors as the housing market began to show signs of distress, the Securities and Exchange Commission said.
The S.E.C. said that the $285 million would be returned to investors in the deal, a collateralized debt obligation known as Class V Funding III. The commission said that Citigroup exercised significant influence over the selection of $500 million of assets in the deal’s portfolio.
Citigroup then took a short position against those mortgage-related assets, an investment in which Citigroup would profit if the assets declined in value. The company did not disclose to the investors to whom it sold the collateralized debt obligation that it had helped to select the assets or that it was betting against them.
Citigroup received fees of $34 million for structuring and marketing the transaction and realized net profits of at least $126 million from its short position. The $285 million settlement includes $160 million in disgorgement plus $30 million in prejudgment interest and a $95 million penalty, all of which will be returned to investors.
Get that? This is like a used car dealer selling you a car with no brakes, then taking out a life insurance policy on you.
This from Thomas Friedman:
Citigroup had to pay a $285 million fine to settle a case in which, with one hand, Citibank sold a package of toxic mortgage-backed securities to unsuspecting customers — securities that it knew were likely to go bust — and, with the other hand, shorted the same securities — that is, bet millions of dollars that they would go bust.
It doesn’t get any more immoral than this.