Tuesday, 4 November 2014

"You have to wonder what in the name of God a utility company were doing selling protection on this portfolio!!"

That headline is from an internal bank email disclosed in this case. If you read the case, you will find out the answer.

It's a long case about a complicated deal between a bank (UBS) and the Leipzig municipal water company (KWL). "The trial has revealed a sorry story of greed and corruption from which neither UBS nor KWL emerges with credit", the judge commented.

Here are some other choice phrases:

"Although it would appear that not everyone at Value Partners was corrupt ..."

"Mr [B] was a thoroughly dishonest man and dishonest witness. He had obviously been heavily coached (by his own lawyers who attended the trial during the four days when he gave evidence, not by UBS's) and was highly evasive, refusing to give straight answers to simple questions. From a long list, four examples of his dishonesty will suffice. ..."

"KWL submits that Dr [S] was "an obviously honest and thoughtful witness". I did not find him to be so. Rather, he was an unreliable and in important respects untruthful witness. I understand that he still faces the possibility of criminal proceedings in Germany. Some aspects of his conduct demonstrate a serious dereliction of his duty as a managing director of KWL." (Note that there have already been at least 3 relevant criminal convictions in Germany.)

"Lord Falconer for UBS asked Mr [M], a member of the KWL Supervisory Board from January 2006 and its Chairman from February 2007 until February 2010 as well as the Deputy Mayor of the City, whether he felt that he had let the people of Leipzig down by not finding out earlier about the corruption of Mr [H]. Mr [M]'s answer was that he did not. Whether that charge can fairly be laid against the members of KWL's Supervisory Board is for the people of Leipzig to judge, but the evidence adduced in this case does not make it a difficult question."

"UBS staff would not only (as it were) eat what they killed, but would fight each other if necessary for a share of the prey."

Look out too for the "impressively large car" that turns up in the story along with the "lawyer friend from their CSFB days who had nothing to do with this transaction but whose role appears to have been to arrange for strippers to entertain [the Germans] from time to time when they visited Mr [B] in the United States." (Sadly, "the evening's entertainment (arranged as usual by the lawyer ...) did not go so well, for reasons which it was unnecessary to explore at the trial ...")

This is from the conclusions:

"For UBS it has been a case study in how not to conduct investment banking in an honest and fair way. It is to be hoped that the events described belong to a bygone era. As most of the main participants have moved on, and many of them are no longer employed in the banking industry, there is room to believe that to be so. ... Mr [H]'s greed and dishonesty could easily have been catastrophic for KWL. They would have been if it had not been for the fact that the dishonest advisers with whom he was in bed overreached themselves by entering into a corrupt arrangement with a maverick banker at UBS who was allowed far too much autonomy, with a view to ripping off not only KWL but their other clients as well."

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