California AG intervenes in qui tam against State Street Bank

by bvernia | October 23rd, 2009

California Attorney General Jerry Brown announced on October 20 that the state would intervene in a qui tam suit filed against State Street Bank and Trust for defrauding the state’s pension funds (CalPERS and CalSTRS) through a secret markup for interbank foreign currency trades. The suit, filed by “Associates Against FX Insider Trading,” was brought under the California False Claims Act.

According to the AG’s press release,

Brown’s investigation revealed that State Street was indeed overcharging the two funds. Despite being contractually obligated to charge the interbank rate at the precise time of the trade, State Street consistently charged at or near the highest rate of the day, even if the interbank rate was lower at the time of trade.

Additionally, State Street concealed the fraud by deliberately failing to include time stamp data in its reports, so that the pension funds could not determine the true execution costs by verifying when State Street actually executed the trades. Commenting on this deception, one State Street senior vice president said to another executive that “…if providing execution costs will give [CalPERS] any insight into how much we make off of FX transactions, I will be shocked if [State Street] or anyone would agree to reveal the information.”

The state’s complaint-in-intervention can be found here.

The relators are represented by Philip Michael, of New York.

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