SEC Investigating Citi CDO "Class V Funding III"

Tyler Durden's picture

It seems more Wall Street settlements are coming (because nobody ever goes to prison for fraud in this country). ProPublica's Jake Bernstein and Jesse Eisinger report that the SEC is investigating Citigroup's role
in a $1 billion deal that the bank created in the run-up to the
financial crisis. The agency is looking at whether Citi improperly
pushed an independent manager to put specific assets into the deal,
according to people familiar with the probe. Of course, we expect that if this is indeed the case, then Citi is currently in negotiations with the SEC to have a settlement ready in hand the second there is a formal announcement.

From ProPublica:

The deal was a collateralized debt obligation [1]
named Class V Funding III, which was completed in late February 2007.
The CDO was made up of pieces of other CDOs that were themselves backed
by risky slices of subprime mortgages. The deal was managed by Credit
Suisse Alternative Capital, a division of the Swiss banking giant.
Independent managers such as Credit Suisse were charged with picking the
best assets for the CDO. Citigroup arranged and marketed the deal to


Details on the investigation are sparse. The SEC declined to comment on
the probe. But the SEC has been conducting a wide-ranging investigation
into Wall Street's CDO business, including whether investment banks
created deals in order to dump assets of declining value onto
unsuspecting buyers.


Among the assets purchased by Class V Funding III were portions of, or
sidebets involving, at least 15 CDOs that the Illinois-based hedge fund
Magnetar helped to create. Four of those CDOs were also underwritten by
Citigroup. In April, ProPublica, together with Chicago Public Radio's "This American Life [3]" and NPR's "Planet Money [4]," detailed how Magnetar [5] had helped create more than $40 billion worth of CDOs as part of its strategy to bet against the housing market.

Class V Funding III was cited in another ProPublica-NPR collaboration published [2] in August. Class V bought a piece of, or had a side bet involving, two other Citi CDOs: Octonion and 888 Tactical [6].
Those CDOs in turn purchased exposure to Class V. All three CDOs closed
within about two weeks of each other. Such transactions could have
helped investment banks to complete CDOs and earn deal-completion fees.

Citi hedged its exposure to the Class V CDO, persuading bond insurance
company Ambac to insure $500 million of it. Eight months after Class V
was completed, rating agencies downgraded the deal. Earlier this month,
Ambac filed for bankruptcy, largely due to its exposure to CDOs like
Class V Funding III.

It's unclear whether Citi made other trades that would pay off in the
event of a drop in Class V's value. Ultimately, the bank failed to
protect itself against losses from most of the CDOs it invested in;
Citigroup lost almost $34 billion on its mortgage CDO business.

At this point nobody seems to care. There is no risk, there is no punishment for misdeeds of any kind. That is the true new normal.



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plocequ1's picture

Ill pass. Im watching something far more educational. The Three Stooges on IFC

buzzsaw99's picture

Anyone who does business with Citi deserves the screwing imo.

Clark_Griswold Hedge Mnger's picture

Its just the guberment looking for more stimulation, stimuli, stimulanus, or something like dat.

Ragnarok's picture

So the gov't is suing itself so that it can settle and use the proceeds to fund the gov't?  W.....T.....F!

goldmiddelfinger's picture

Citi saw missiles on the horizon, loaded one of the last ginormous deals w all the shit crusting up in the storage bins and blew it out the torpedo tubes. Deminimus fine, no individuals defendants named. To be tough is not in the best interests of "moving forward". Right.

HarryWanger's picture

At this point nobody seems to care. There is no risk, there is no punishment for misdeeds of any kind. That is the true new normal.

We have a Bingo! That's the best feeling in life is when you open up your mind to the reality around you. Right or wrong, it's the reality we live in. And it has been for a while. This didn't just start with the financial crisis.

goldmiddelfinger's picture

I call it putting your head in a bucket of shit. Only you dont call it shit.

goldmiddelfinger's picture
Judges 17:6  In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.

--This the point at which God got really, really pissed,


I Am The Unknown Comic's picture

A scene from Goodbankers:

Citi:  Yeah, sure we did that, but we ain't gonna admit any fault you understand me?

SEC: Yeah ok sure, fuggetaboutit, but we gotta look like were doin' somethin' you know what I'm saying?

Citi: Yeah ok, what kind a cut are you talking about?

SEC: I was thinkin 50%.

Citi: 50% get outta here.  Nobody and I mean nobody gets 50%.  How about 5%?  Now that's more like it.  You don't want me to have to call my boys on the capital hill.

SEC: Make it 20%

Citi: 10% and we ain't givin' up no more; AND the problem hits the news and dissapears same day.  You understand me when I say I want it taken care of, kapish?

SEC: OK 10% and everthing goes away, we can work with that.

Citi: Done.  Now get outta here you freakin' piece of shit before I break your face. 

GolfHatesMe's picture

It's nice to see ProPublica issuing communications that are in their wheelhouse, banking schenanigans.  This is the organization funded by Herb and Marion Sandler at $10 million per year for their "investigative reporting".  Ironically, their first report was on anti-fracking. 

f16hoser's picture

Betya Sheila already has a job waiting for her at CITI when her rein of corruption ends at the SEC.......any takers?

Bartanist's picture

Maybe ya mean Mary ... Sheila has decided to leave her post at the FDIC ... but my guess is that she would prefer to serve "under" Jamie Dimon after they jointly raped the WaMu people.

max2205's picture

Former auto industry czar Steven Rattner to pay $6.2 million to settle SEC allegations in pension fund kickback case

Die Weiße Rose's picture

The SEC is completely incompetent and it is under their watch,that financial Markets as we once knew them, have now become completely corrupt and fraudulent and rigged against anyone but the "Insiders", those Pension-funds lending out their clients Share-holdings during the GFC to be shorted by Hedge-funds right under the very eyes and with the blessings of the SEC, who was in on the deals.

The Rocket to launch the Global Financial Crisis was built back in Febuary 2005:

Subprime Securities Market Began as `Group of 5' Over Chinese

by Mark Pittman,Dec. 17,2006 (Bloomberg)

As far back as February 2005 Representatives of five of Wall Street's dominant Investment banks would meet to design the new toxic products of sub-prime CDO contracts.Their talks over take-out Chinese food led to the perfect formula for a U.S. housing collapse.

The host was Greg Lippmann, then 36, a fast-talking Deutsche Bank AG trader who aspired to make mortgage securities as big a cash cow for Wall Street as the $12 trillion corporate credit market.

His allies included 34-year-old Rajiv Kamilla, a trader at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. with a background in nuclear physics, and 32-year-old Todd Kushman, who led a contingent from Bear Stearns Cos. Representatives from Citigroup Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. were also invited. Almost 50 traders and lawyers showed up for the first meeting at Deutsche Bank's Wall Street office to help set the trading rules and design the new product.

By September 2005, some within Deutsche Bank were beginning to worry about defaults on sub-prime mortgages and how that might affect the securities based on them. A team of Deutsche Bank analysts that month warned of growing sub-prime market risks.
The ABX-HE index started trading on Jan. 19, 2006. At 8 a.m. on the first day, John Kane of Sorin Capital started phoning dealers.Kane, then 27, was a trader at Sorin, which runs hedge funds that invest in mortgages and other securities.

His auto mechanic, in describing the debt burden he was carrying to own a home, had planted the idea in Kane's mind that the housing market might be in trouble. Kane thought it through, ran an analysis on available data, and decided to wager against, or ``short,'' sub-prime. To do that, he turned to the portion of the ABX index dealing with the lowest investment-grade sub-prime securities.

Investors Go Short

The trouble was that quotes from brokers selling the ABX were already dropping, an indication that a number of investors wanted to do the same thing.
"All the other dealers were already scared'' and dropping their bids, Kane said while on a panel at a November industry conference."All but Goldman. So I bought from them.''

On its first day, the index traded more than $5 billion. The cost of wagering against the securities was rising, a sign that traders saw an increased chance of default. An early warning was visible to anyone who knew where to look.

The new derivatives were a hit among the group of five's customers -- the banks and other institutional investors that bought them to lock in high yields.

In the months to come, Deutsche Bank and at least one other member of the group of five, Goldman Sachs, began using subprime derivative contracts to bet the other way and guard against the possibility that sub-prime mortgages might default.
by Mark Pittman
Dec. 17, 2006 (Bloomberg)

spekulatn's picture

Mr Pittman was the ONLY real reporter with the skills to cover this story.

May he rest in peace.


trav7777's picture

The SEC is investigating them?  Why, did they hear that Citi put porn in the disclosure docs?

Die Weiße Rose's picture

And speaking of the Devil, Greg Lippmann, the former Deutsche Bank AG trader who gained fame for his bets against subprime - and should probably be in Jail for his part in designing these fraudulent financial Weapons of Mass Destruction seems to prosper further from the proceeds of legalized crime:

Greg Lippmann’s LibreMax Focuses Hedge Fund Buying on Subprime Debt

By Jody Shenn and Saijel Kishan

Nov. 18 (Bloomberg) -- Greg Lippmann, the former Deutsche Bank AG trader who gained fame for his bets against subprime- mortgage securities, focused his hedge fund’s buying of the debt in its first month.

LibreMax Capital LLC’s fund gained about 1.67 percent in October as it invested 44.4 percent of its portfolio in bonds backed by subprime home loans to borrowers with the worst credit, according to a letter to investors obtained by Bloomberg News. Hedge funds returned 1.5 percent in October, Bloomberg data show.

Lippmann, 41, started the New York-based firm with Fred Brettschneider, the former head of global markets in the Americas at Deutsche Bank, after they departed the German lender this year. Lippmann’s team made almost $2 billion for the bank in 2007 as homeowner defaults soared with its wagers against subprime debt through credit-default swaps, according to “The Greatest Trade Ever” (Broadway Books, 2009) by Greg Zuckerman.

“Returns were driven by the rally in the overall mortgage market as well as strong trading gains during the month,” the firm said in the letter.

John Curran, director of marketing at LibreMax, declined to comment.

LibreMax Partners LP bought 82 securities and sold 9 last month, according to the letter. “Our investment team had an active first month,” the firm said.

The fund found “attractive investment opportunities” in junior-ranked slices of older subprime securitizations, as well as junior pieces of repackaged prime-loan securities and mortgage bonds whose principal will never be repaid, according to the letter.

Last Updated: November 18, 2010 13:40 EST

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