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Posted: March 1, 2019

Antitrust Suit Alleges That Major Banks Colluded To Manipulate Prices Of Fannie & Freddie Bonds Between 2009 And 2014

On February 22, 2019, the City of Birmingham’s pension fund and various other benefit funds filed a proposed antitrust class action in the Southern District of New York. The complaint alleges that a number of major banks–Bank of America, Barclays, BNP Paribas, Credit Suisse, Merrill Lynch, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, and Deutsche Bank, among others–conspired to manipulate the secondary market for unsecured bonds issued by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac between 2009 and 2014. The defendants are the largest dealers in the $550 billion over-the-counter secondary markets, and the complaint alleges that they colluded among themselves to inflate the prices of bonds they sold and to deflate the prices of bonds they repurchased from investors, including the institutional investors who are the lead plaintiffs. Interestingly, the complaint relies on the fact that the bid-ask prices changed dramatically in April 2014 after the banks came under additional scrutiny due to the LIBOR manipulation scandal. The complaint also alleges that this conduct is the subject of an ongoing Department of Justice investigation. The SDNY antitrust action is before Judge Jed Rakoff.

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