State Street May Face Suit on Securities

[Update 1] Financial service provider State Street (STT) may face civil charges over certain fixed-income strategies used by its institutional asset management business in 2007. The company said in a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing Monday that it had received a so-called “Wells” notice from the SEC staff. A Wells notice indicates the SEC’s intention to bring civil enforcement action over possible violations of securities laws. The notice is part of an ongoing SEC investigation into institutional asset manager State Street Global Advisors, the company said. State Street, which boasts $1.4trn total assets under management as of March 31, said it has cooperated with the Massachusetts Secretary of State, the Massachusetts Attorney General and other regulators in the related inquiries. A State Street spokesperson told HousingWire the company is not commenting beyond the information disclosed in the SEC filing. This isn’t the first time State Street has encountered friction over its investments. At about the same time last year, the company faced damages tied to subprime investments that were estimated to reach as high as $7.8bn — more than 12 times the $618m it set aside months earlier to cover legal costs tied to its subprime mortgage exposure, according to HousingWire coverage from May 2008. A group of institutional investors brought suit against State Street, alleging the company misled investors and inappropriately placed investor assets into structured investments backed by subprime mortgages. In response to waves of negative press over the insufficient reserve, State Street in May 2008 issued a statement defending its January 2008 calculation of the reserve. The quarterly review of the reserve employed outside counsel and incorporated “the best possible information,” the company said at the time. “The views of third parties who appear to have a vested interest in advancing their own agenda are not taken into account,” State Street executives said in a statement. “State Street will continue to defend itself vigorously against inappropriate claims,” the company added, “including those that seek recovery of investment losses arising solely from changes in market conditions.” Write to Diana Golobay. Disclosure: The author held no relevant investment positions when this story was published. Indirect holdings may exist via mutual fund investments.

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