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November 29, 2011

The S.E.C.’s Enabling

Judge Jed Rakoff is furious. He should be. We all should be. On Monday, the Federal District Court judge rightly rejected a plan by the Securities and Exchange Commission to settle a securities fraud case against Citigroup, saying that the $285 million deal was “neither fair, nor reasonable, nor adequate, nor in the public interest.”

It’s not only that the money was not enough, though it certainly seems puny compared with the damage done. The S.E.C. charged that Citigroup had not adequately disclosed to investors its role and interest in creating and selling — and betting against — a mortgage-backed investment that was intended to fail. When the investment did, indeed, tank, the bank made $160 million, according to the S.E.C., while investors lost $700 million.

It’s not even that the S.E.C. only accused Citigroup of negligence, when Judge Rakoff said that his understanding of the matter indicates that a tougher charge of knowing or intentional fraud was probably warranted.

 

Read the full story here

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