U.S. District Judge Sidney Stein of the Southern District of New York granted Monday motions to dismiss claims that some of the world’s biggest banks manipulated the London Interbank Offered Rate pegged to the Swiss Franc over a 10-year period ending in 2011.
In Sonterra Capital Master Fund v. Credit Suisse Group AG,15-cv-00871, Credit Suisse, the Royal Bank of Scotland, UBS and others were accused by investors at Sonterra Capital Master Fund and others as part of a class suit to have, among other allegations, manipulated the international trading rate to help their own trading positions.
The lawsuit stems from settlements a number of the banks entered into with U.S. and European regulators over LIBOR manipulation allegations. The settlements exceeded $7 billion paid by various financial institutions. Stein noted that this was just one of a number of LIBOR-related suits filed in recent years in the jurisdiction, including other claims over Euro- and Japanese yen-based manipulation.
Plaintiffs alleged misconduct claims under the Sherman Antitrust Act, the Commodities Exchange Act and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, as well as state laws against Credit Suisse and UBS for unjust enrichment and other allegations. Plaintiffs claimed to be on the losing end of the conspiracy by the financial institutions to fix the borrowing rate, largely in their dealings in Swiss Franc currency derivatives.
Some of the defendants were also alleged to have conspired to charge the plaintiffs and those similarly situated more for certain LIBOR-based derivative “bid-ask spread” buys than they did among themselves.
The defendants challenged the complaint on standing, timeliness, extraterritoriality and personal jurisdiction.
In his 108-page order, Stein found that the plaintiffs’ complaint “fails to state any claim for which relief can be granted.”
Allegations over the bid-ask spreads lacked Article III standing, Stein said, because plaintiffs failed to allege any actual injury. While plaintiffs made “numerous detailed allegations” that several of the defendants independently manipulated the rate, the complaint was “devoid of specific or plausible allegations that defendants other than RBS conspired with each other to do so,” according to Stein. Meanwhile, the antitrust claims against RBS failed for lack of standing because Stein found that none of the plaintiffs qualified as efficient enforcers because none of them actually transacted in the LIBOR-based derivatives.
Stein also dismissed the CEA claims over a failure to show plausible injury, and the RICO claims over extraterritorial impermissibility as the alleged schemes occurred in Europe, touching the United States “only as part of a global scheme.” State claims were dismissed over the failure to state a viable federal claim.
Plaintiffs are, however, granted the opportunity to file another amended complaint if they so choose.
Lowey Dannenberg Cohen & Hart partner Vincent Briganti led the plaintiffs’ legal team. He could not be reached for comment.
Cahill Gordon & Reindel partner Joel Kurtzberg led Credit Suisse’s defense. Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr partner Fraser Hunter Jr. did the same for the Royal Bank of Scotland. UBS’ legal team was led by Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher partner Peter Sullivan. Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld partner and general counsel Douglass B. Maynard led the firm’s representation of BlueCrest Capital Management. Deutsche Bank and a subsidiary were represented by Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, led by partner Moses Silverman.
None of the defendants’ attorneys could be reached for comment.