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Credit Suisse must face New York mortgage suit, court says

Wednesday, December 14, 2016 - 07:25

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Credit Suisse Group AG must face New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's US$10 billion lawsuit accusing the bank of fraud in the sale of mortgage-backed securities before the 2008 financial crisis, a state appeals court ruled Tuesday.

[NEW YORK] Credit Suisse Group AG must face New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's US$10 billion lawsuit accusing the bank of fraud in the sale of mortgage-backed securities before the 2008 financial crisis, a state appeals court ruled Tuesday.

The Zurich-based bank lost its bid to dismiss the 2012 lawsuit, which accused Credit Suisse of misrepresenting the risks of investing in mortgage-backed securities. The appellate panel rejected Credit Suisse's arguments, saying Mr Schneiderman had shown the bank may have engaged in misconduct and that the claims were within the six-year statute of limitations. Two of the five judges disagreed, saying a three-year statute of limitations applied so the case should have been thrown out.

Andrew Wilson, a spokesman for Credit Suisse, declined to comment on the ruling. In December 2014, New York State Supreme Court Justice Marcy Friedman denied the bank's first request to dismiss the lawsuit, which Credit Suisse appealed.

Credit Suisse is among European banks in settlement talks with the Justice Department and US states over abuses in residential mortgage-backed securities, people familiar with the matter said in September. Tuesday's decision by the appeals court may clear the path for the lender to resolve similar claims with US authorities, Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Elliot Stein said.

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Credit Suisse is also scheduled to go to trial in March in a lawsuit by the National Credit Union Administration on behalf of failed credit unions that bought billions of dollars in mortgage-backed bonds, which could push the bank to reach a global settlement before then, Mr Stein said.

He estimated that Credit Suisse would pay US$2 billion to US$4 billion, based on other settlements with the Justice Department's task force on mortgage-backed securities.

Amy Spitalnick, a spokeswoman for Mr Schneiderman, said, "We're pleased with the appellate court's decision, which recognizes that a six-year statute of limitations applies to our statutory fraud claims."

Mr Schneiderman serves as co-chair of the task force of state and federal agencies probing wrongdoing in the mortgage-bond market.

The majority of the appeals court concluded the lawsuit adequately alleges that Credit Suisse's behaviour had elements of common fraud, which carries a six-year statute of limitations.

The dissenting judges, however, cited a broader definition of fraud that carries a three-year statute of limitations.

The case is People of the State of New York v Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC, 451802-2012, New York State Supreme Court, New York County (Manhattan).

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