Is it possible lawyers may end up having a say in the value of so-called Level 3 assets? Believe it or not, it's actually possible. Luminent Mortgage Capital earlier this week sued a unit of Barclays PLC, saying the bank had improperly marked down the value of bonds it held as collateral for financing, leading to a margin call that Luminent characterized as a "money grab." Reuters broke the story:
A copy of the complaint was provided to Reuters by Luminent's law firm O'Shea Partners LLP. A Barclays spokeswoman declined to comment. "Defendant accomplished its money-grab at plaintiffs' expense by falsely discounting and misrepresenting the true value of the bonds," the complaint alleged. Barclays misrepresented "its liquidation efforts in order to misappropriate a significant portion of the securities' value," it read. In August, Barclays demanded about $35 million in payments from the plaintiffs to cover a purported shortfall in the value of some bonds against the backdrop of the crisis in the subprime mortgage loan market, according to the complaint. Luminent said it refused to submit to the payment demands as the bonds were "much more valuable than Barclays was representing them to be." "Barclays was simply exploiting an aberrational market as a pretext to unreasonably mark down the purported value of the bonds, demand an unreasonable amount of additional collateral from plaintiffs, and then confiscate a portion of the value contained in certain of the bonds," the complaint alleged.
This should be very interesting -- and I don't think this will be the only suit like this, especially if Luminent succeeds. Luminent has a conference call scheduled for Monday, which I can only assume will cover an update surrounding this case.