In another clear signal that Lehman Notes investors may be able to recoup their losses, a FINRA Arbitration Panel sided this week with a wealthy couple who bought Lehman “100% principal protected” notes and other Lehman structured notes from UBS.
Even better news for investors who have suffered Lehman losses is FINRA’s ruling that UBS must not only buy back the notes at their original cost from Thomas and Christine Motamed, but it must also pay six percent interest dating back to April 2008, when UBS sold the couple $2.2 million in Lehman products.
The Motameds bought $1.65 million worth of Lehman “100% Principal Protection Absolute Return Barrier Notes” and $550,000 of “Return Optimization Securities” weeks after the Bear Stearns collapse and less than six months before Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy.
Chris Vernon, whose law firm Vernon Litigation Group has represented investors with nearly $10 million in Lehman notes losses thus far, said UBS has aggressively sold Lehman products to investors seeking a safe haven for their money.
“It is for this reason that the term “Principal Protected” is such an effective and deceptive sales tool to describe structured notes such as the Lehman notes sold by UBS,” Vernon said.
Vernon also said UBS used investors such as the Motameds as a source of funding to shore up failing Lehman Brothers.
“By the latter half of 2007 and well before the 2008 sale involved in the Motamed case, the credit crisis was well underway and Lehman’s stock price fell,” Vernon said. “At the same time, Lehman’s credit default swap (“CDS”) spread — the cost to insure a loan to Lehman against default – increased dramatically. Both the stock and loan insurance price trends continued through the February – June 2008 time period, when UBS sold Lehman notes to the Motameds.”
UBS pitched Lehman notes as “safe” investments in which investors’ principal investment would be protected from losses, even after warning signs surrounding Lehman’s faltering financial outlook had already begun to surface within securities industry circles that included UBS, according to Vernon Litigation Group’s investigation.
The so-called “principal protected” notes as well as other structured notes promoted by UBS, were in fact risky, unsecured loans to Lehman Brothers, according to multiple claims filed by Vernon Litigation Group on behalf of investors. These risks were realized when Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy in September 2008 left investors such as the Motameds, who held Lehman notes and other Lehman structured products, standing at the back of the line with other unsecured creditors.
Vernon said Wall Street’s practice of dumping bad products on Main Street investors continues despite condemnation of this practice in decades past.
“Wall Street firms periodically use their own clients – including many fixed-income investors – as a dumping ground for defective products they cook up in their home offices and then pitch worldwide to their financial advisors and clients,” Vernon said.
This practice continues because it is so profitable for brokerage firms such as UBS to engage in these unsavory practices, Vernon said. But his larger concern is that the current structured product version of this practice simultaneously enables the financial industry to borrow billions of dollars from main street investors with no collateral. As a result, the brokerage firms not only profit from creating and selling these structured notes, they also effectively receive loans from their own clients on terms so favorable that professional lenders would never consider them.
Vernon Litigation Group is a Naples, Florida law firm that already represents UBS investors in Florida and multiple other states in the U.S. Vernon Litigation Group’s ongoing investigation of Lehman structured note sales in the United States has now expanded to sales of Lehman structured notes in Europe as well as the sales of other types of structured products sold in the U.S, such as “reverse convertibles,” which UBS refers to as “Yield Optimization Notes.”
The attorneys at Vernon Litigation Group have decades of experience representing investors who are victims of stock fraud and stock losses due to broker fraud and brokerage firm fraud and misconduct. Vernon Litigation Group securities attorneys are experienced in securities arbitration and business litigation and assist clients in recovering losses caused by all manner of financial fraud and negligence.
Christopher T. Vernon, attorney at law
Susan R. Healy, attorney at law