Credit Suisse Group must face New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s $10 billion lawsuit accusing the bank of fraud in the sale of mortgage-backed securities prior to the 2008 financial crisis, a state appeals court ruled Tuesday in a split decision.
The Zurich-based bank lost its bid to dismiss the 2012 lawsuit, which accused Credit Suisse of misrepresenting the risks of investing in mortgage-backed securities. The appellate panel rejected Credit Suisse’s arguments, saying Schneiderman had shown the bank may have engaged in misconduct and that the claims were within the six-year statute of limitations. However, two of the five judges disagreed, saying a three-year statute of limitations applied so the case should have been thrown out.
Credit Suisse declined to comment on the ruling. In December 2014, New York State Supreme Court Justice Marcy Friedman denied the bank’s first request to dismiss the lawsuit, which Credit Suisse appealed.
Credit Suisse is among European banks in settlement talks with the Justice Department and several states over abuses in residential mortgage-backed securities, people familiar with the matter said in September. Tuesday’s decision by the appeals court may clear the path for the lender to resolve similar claims with U.S. authorities, Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Elliot Stein said.
Credit Suisse is also scheduled to go to trial in March in a lawsuit by the National Credit Union Administration on behalf of failed credit unions that bought billions of dollars in mortgage-backed bonds, which could push the bank to reach a global settlement before then, Stein said.
Credit Suisse would pay $2 billion to $4 billion, based on other settlements with the Justice Department’s task force on mortgage-backed securities, he estimated.
“We’re pleased with the appellate court’s decision, which recognizes that a six-year statute of limitations applies to our statutory fraud claims,” Amy Spitalnick, a spokeswoman for Schneiderman, said. Schneiderman serves as co-chair of the task force of state and federal agencies probing wrongdoing in the mortgage-bond market.
The majority of the appeals court concluded the lawsuit adequately alleges that Credit Suisse’s behavior had elements of common fraud, which carries a six-year statute of limitations. The dissenting judges, however, cited a broader definition of fraud that carries a three-year statute of limitations.