Week Adjourned: 6.11.11

Top Class Actions

Never mind what’s in your wallet…Capital One could be more concerned with what’s left in theirs soon, as it seems they may have been doing a little corporate pick pocketing… it’s very popular these days. A lawsuit seeking class action status was just filed alleging Capital One (NYSE:COF) misrepresented its “Transfer Balance Program” program, resulting in higher-than-expected interest rates for consumers.

The case, filed June 9, 2011, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, alleges that Capital One deceived cardholders by claiming that a cash advance obtained through the company’s transfer balance program would include a 0 percent Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”) for one year. The company also allegedly promised that credit balances on regular monthly purchases (“purchase balances”) would incur no interest as long as the balance was paid within 25 days.

However, according to the complaint, cardholders who took advantage of the transfer balance program were charged interest rates exceeding 13 percent on their purchase balances, even if the balance was paid on time, because payments were applied to the transfer balance rather than to the purchase balance.

The lawsuit alleges that Capital One’s actions constitute a breach of contract and the duty of good faith and fair dealing, in addition to violations of the Virginia Consumer Protection Act and the Michigan Consumer Protection Act. The case also argues that Capital One received unjust enrichment through the alleged scheme.

Ah yes, unjust enrichment…that old chestnut. Seems it never grows old.

Top Settlements

One for the Madoff Meter… While we’re on the subject of things financial—a settlement was recently reached between a group of investors and HSBC Holdings PLC, with Europe’s largest bank agreeing to pay $62.5 million to the investors, who allegedly lost money in association with a Madoff securities fraud.

It seems that the investors had placed funds with Ireland-based Thema International Fund Plc, the assets of which were held with Bernard L. Madoff LLC, according to a statement by HSBC. Bloomberg reports “Thema Fund, a so-called Madoff feeder fund, was controlled by Bank Medici AG. Bank Medici with its founder Sonja Kohn is part of a $59 billion suit by the trustee liquidating Madoff’s firm.” This has to be one of the worst trustee jobs in history, I would think.

Reportedly, Thema was one of several funds placed in the custodianship of HSBC units, which subsequently funnelled monies to Madoff. The settlement is pending court approval.

A statement issued by HSBC stated that the settlement “shall in no way be construed” as an admission of fault. HSBC still faces other Madoff-related lawsuits in other countries including Germany, and Luxembourg. It’s the never ending story.


And it’s a victory for the Ladies. A federal judge in Washington has approved a $32 million settlement of a class action brought against Wells Fargo Advisors by a group of women who alleged gender discrimination.

Reportedly, some 3000 female financial advisors make up the class. The suit was filed in 2009 by three female financial advisors who worked at Wachovia Securities. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal the women claimed that compared with their male counterparts, female advisors were provided fewer business opportunities by the company. The women also claimed that female advisors were at a disadvantage in other ways, specifically with respect to career advancement, work assignments and distribution of accounts.

The class covers all women who were employed as financial advisors by Wachovia or Wells Fargo at any time between March 17, 2003, and January 25, 2011, which is the date a preliminary approval was reached. The class also covers women who were employed by Wells Fargo Investments LLC and women who were employed as advisors by Prudential Securities Inc. or A.G. Edwards & Sons Inc. as of the dates those companies merged with Wachovia. I wonder who’s next?

OK. That’s it for this week. See you at the Bar.

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