NY Judge Upholds Fraud Claims Against Wells Fargo, Fortis in $1.5 Billion Subprime Mortgage-Backed Securities Case
April 8, 2014
NEW YORK – A lawsuit filed by European bank LBBW Luxemburg S.A. over an alleged $1.5 billion subprime mortgage-backed securities fraud scheme cleared a significant hurdle last week when a federal judge denied the defendants’ extensive motions to dismiss.
U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken let stand the fraud, breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation and constructive fraud charges against Charlotte, N.C.-based Wells Fargo Securities LLC (formerly Wachovia Capital Markets) and New Jersey-based Fortis Securities LLC. The two companies’ alleged misrepresentations ensnared not only LBBW, but also the employee pension fund for the Zuni Indian tribe.
“This was a significant ruling in a massive fraud case where the sellers greedily squeezed money from investors despite knowing the underlying securities were riskier than represented and not even worth the price,” says David Warden of the Houston-based litigation boutique Ahmad, Zavitsanos, Anaipakos, Alavi & Mensing P.C., or AZA. Mr. Warden and AZA lawyers John Zavitsanos, Sean Gorman, Jamie Alan Aycock, and Megan L. Bibb represent the European bank. Sharad Samy of the Connecticut-based Law Offices of Sharad A. Samy LLC is co-counsel.
The lawsuit stems from a 2006 deal in which Wells Fargo sold $40 million of what it claimed were highly rated securities to LBBW. The lawsuit filed by LBBW, a subsidiary of the German bank Landesbank Baden-Württemberg, alleges that its purchase was among nearly $1.5 billion in securities sold to LBBW and other customers even though Wells Fargo had determined that the securities were overvalued and riskier than promised. The securities were collateralized by subprime residential mortgages, and defaulted within a year.
LBBW’s attorneys argue the alleged fraud was masked by the beginning of the economic crisis in 2007, and was discovered in April 2011 only after the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission instigated administrative proceedings related to a $5.5 million investment made by the Zuni tribe’s employee pension fund.
The lawsuit, LBBW Luxemburg S.A. v. Wells Fargo Securities LLC, et al., No. 12-CV-7311, was filed in 2012 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Ahmad, Zavitsanos, Anaipakos, Alavi & Mensing P.C., or AZA, is a Houston-based law firm that is home to true courtroom lawyers with a formidable track record in complex commercial litigation, including energy, intellectual property, securities fraud, construction and business dispute cases. AZA is recognized by Chambers USA 2014 as among the best in Texas commercial law and by U.S. News & World Report and The Best Lawyers in America as one of the country’s best commercial litigation firms in the 2014 listing of the nation’s leading law firms. National corporate counsel named AZA one of the country’s best in client service among law firms serving the Fortune 1000. AZA has been hired on many occasions by the same companies the firm has prevailed against at trial. Read more at https://www.azalaw.com.