In a recent filing, State Street, the Boston, Mass.-based institutional investor services firm, revealed that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and other federal authorities have inquired about its past foreign exchange practices.
On May 9, the firm with more than $22.6 trillion in assets under custody, and more than $2.1 trillion under its management wing, said in the SEC filing that state Attorney General’s, “the U.S. Attorney’s offices, the SEC and other regulators, have made inquiries or issued subpoenas concerning our foreign exchange pricing.”
The investment bank stated it was also “responding to information requests from other clients with respect to our foreign exchange services” as well.
Also, State Street listed the fact that two clients filed suit in February in Boston, including a punitive class action that the firm “executed foreign currency trades constituted an unfair and deceptive practice and a breach of the duty of loyalty.” Additionally, three other “shareholder-related class action complaints” are pending in Boston federal court, the firm said.
The Commonwealth City financial institution referenced a prior filing from the California Attorney General’s office, which is seeking $56 million in actual damages, as well as additional penalties, for the period between 2001 and 2007.
Previously, in October 2009, California Attorney General and present Governor Jerry Brown filed suit against State Street Bank and Trust for the allegedly overcharging its retirement plans in similar transactions over an eight year span.
At the time, Brown said that the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS), was seeking to recover more than $200 million from the “secret…substantial mark-up” to the price for interbank foreign currency trades.
Additionally, as of late, the Arkansas Teachers Retirement System (ATRS) filed its complaint on Feb. 10 seeking that the plaintiff and the class “be awarded all costs and expenses of this action, including attorneys’ fees” from the bank. ATRS noted that since 2001, State Street has “been responsible for executing the purchase, sale and pricing of FX contracts for the accounts of ARTRS” as its custodial bank.
“Until recently, FX trading has been an often ignored and murky process that lacked the transparency and clarity,” the Little Rock-based plan said on its Web site. “ATRS has instituted litigation against its custodial bank claiming that ATRS is entitled to money due to FX trading.
Alternately, Reuters has reported that Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin and his office have pursued an "inquiry" into to State State's transactions.
While the firm lists that it paid out $12 million in an October 2010 settlement with the State of Washington, which resolved a “dispute” regarding its foreign pricing over a 10-year period, further information regarding the other parties was unavailable.
As a response, Alicia Curran, firm spokesperson, said in an e-mail this afternoon that State Street “will cooperate fully with the SEC in its inquiry and we stand behind our business practices and will continue to defend ourselves against any allegations of wrong doing.”
Also, she added that with regards to the California and Arkansas complaints, the firm said that it intends to “vigorously defend the allegations made recently by an Arkansas fund and the California claims concerning our FX business.”
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