UBS Financial Services Inc. is on the hook to pay $2.2 million in the largest settlement to date related to Lehman Brothers-associated investment products it once sold.
The new Dec. 20 ruling from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority follows a spate of litigation for UBS in recent years in connection with the Lehman Brothers-associated structured investment products. Those included principal protected notes, or a group of securities marketed as having a capped return in exchange for curbing potential effects of market volatility.
But UBS, which reportedly sold about $1 billion of the securities to U.S. clients, did not properly represent the investments, litigation against the firm has said. Since September 2008, investors have railed against the securities as merely unsecured debt with no protection at all.
In the new arbitration rule, claimants Thomas F. Motamed, Chairman and CEO of CNA Financial Corp., and Christine B. Motamed are set to receive $2.2 million from UBS. In addition, the firm is to pay 6% annual interest on that sum from April 4, 2008 until the award is paid. Ultimately, the decision represents rescission of the purchase of the structured products.
“UBS disagrees with and is disappointed in the panel’s decision,” UBS spokesperson Karina Byrne said. “UBS properly sold Lehman structured products to its clients and maintains that any client losses were the direct result of the unexpected and unprecedented failure of Lehman Brothers, which affected all Lehman bondholders.”
Calls for comment placed to Thomas Motamed’s office at CNA were not returned. Former UBS broker R. Ashley Early, who was also named in the filing alongside UBS, declined to comment. Another former UBS broker named, Judith L. Sierko, could not be reached for comment.
“The evidence fully supported the award, and my clients and I are very grateful to the panel for ruling as it did,” the Motameds’ lawyer, G. Trenholm Walker of Pratt-Thomas Walker PA said via e-mail. “The entire episode (investment and aftermath) was an unfortunate experience for all involved.”
UBS reportedly has not won a single case related to these structured products where an investor was represented by legal counsel, according to a November announcement from Page Perry LLC and Deutsch & Lipner, law firms that together have represented multiple investors. Previous court decisions have also ordered for the rescission of the investment purchases, including a $529,688 FINRA award ruling on behalf of a New York couple on Oct. 27.
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