TWO individual investors just scored a remarkable win against Citigroup.
A few weeks ago, the pair was awarded a total of $54.1 million in a securities arbitration case against the Smith Barney unit of the company — the largest amount ever awarded to individuals in such a case, according to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.
This legal dust-up involved supposedly conservative municipal bond investments that Smith Barney had peddled to its wealthiest clients. The investments, which were big money-makers for Smith Barney, turned out to be anything but safe for the firm’s clients: various portfolios lost between half and three-quarters of their value during the financial crisis.
Arbitrators rarely, if ever, discuss such cases, and the materials turned over by both sides are kept under wraps. But the outsize award, which included $17 million in punitive damages, is not the only thing that is noteworthy. The arbitrators appeared to reject — resoundingly — three defenses that Wall Street often employs when clients sue:
No. 1: We didn’t blow up your portfolio. The financial crisis did.
No. 2: If you’re wealthy and sophisticated, you should have understood the risks.
And, No. 3, the most common defense of all: The prospectus warned that you could lose your shirt, so don’t come crying to us if you do.
Check out the rest here…