HSBC Ordered to Pay Nearly $2.5 billion Judgment, Bank Plans to Appeal
A sector of British bank HSBC was ordered to pay a record $2.46 billion final judgment in a United States securities class action lawsuit against a business previously known as Household International.
The judgment by U.S. Judge Ronald Guzman in Chicago was the largest in a securities fraud class action suit that went to trial, according to a statement from the law firm that represented investors. Securities fraud class action cases typically settle before going to a jury.
The suit was filed back in 2002 and alleged Household International, its chief executive officer, chief financial officer and head of consumer lending made bogus and misleading claims that inflated the company’s share price. The plaintiffs also claimed that Household International artificially promoted its share price by engaging in predatory lending while hiding the actual quality of its loan portfolio.
When initial reports about Household’s lending practices came to the surface in 2001, the share price plummeted to a record seven-year low. HSBC bought the U.S. lender in November 2002 for $14.2 billion. The bank then merged the business with another subsidiary to form the HSBC Finance Corporation.
In a breakdown of the nearly $2.5 billion judgment, HSBC, as well as the aforementioned former executives, have been ordered to pay about $1.48 billion in damages and $986.4 million in prejudgment interest.
In 2002, when Household International was still an independent company, it agreed to pay nearly $486 million to settle allegations of predatory lending with attorneys general in 46 states. The shareholder lawsuit was filed later that year. In 2009, Stephen Green, then chairman of HSBC, said that it was a deal the bank “wished we hadn’t done, with the benefit of hindsight.”
James Glickenhaus of Glickenhaus & Company, one of the three lead plaintiffs in the case, said in a statement, “We are very pleased that we went the distance in this case, all the way through a jury trial, and that we were able to obtain such a tremendous recovery for shareholders.”
The lawsuit has made its way through United States courts for the past 11 years and has been regularly noted in HSBC’s corporate filings. A federal jury in 2009 in Chicago found partially in favor of the shareholders, but HSBC and other defendants have continuously challenged the verdict.
“We plan to appeal and believe we have a strong argument,” Patrick Humpries, a spokesperson for HSBC, said Friday.
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