AG's office announces $1.3M antitrust settlement with four financial firms

By Chris Dickerson | Aug 29, 2016

CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey's office has reached additional settlements totaling $1.28 million with four financial corporations, bringing the amount of the broader case to $4.7 million.

The most recent settlements resolved allegations with UBS, FSA, Natixis and Municipal Bond Insurance Association, the office announced Aug. 29. The lawsuit alleged that the companies had engaged in unscrupulous business practices with several West Virginia agencies and cities.

According to the office, the case involved unlawful bid rigging, which limited competition and fixed rates associated with bonds in hopes of getting a favorable percentage. That resulted in the affected cities and agencies incurring significant monetary damages at the corporation’s benefit, the office said.

“This settlement assists those cities and agencies impacted by these unscrupulous practices, while also enforcing state's consumer protections laws,” Morrisey said in a statement. “These entities must be able to continue their work without the fear of someone taking advantage of them.”

UBS, FSA, Natixis and MBIA were among more than 20 banks and financial companies sued by the Attorney General’s Office for alleged violations of the Sherman Antitrust Act and the state Antitrust Act.

Each of the companies involved in the recent agreements denied any allegations of wrongdoing as part of the settlement.

Morrisey's office said the West Virginia State School Building Authority will be among those benefitting from the most recent settlements. It will receive $100,000.

Other recipients include the state Division of Highways and Higher Education Policy Commission, along with the West Virginia University Board of Governors, Fairmont State College, Cabell County Board of Education, Jefferson County Board of Education and the Monongalia County Building Commission.

The lawsuit was filed in Mason County before it was transferred as part of a multi-jurisdictional, federal case in New York.

Other agencies that have benefited from earlier settlement in this case include the state’s Water Development Authority, Housing Development Authority, Hospital Finance Authority, Economic Development Authority, Shepherd College, Potomac State College of WVU, West Virginia United Healthcare System, Inc., Pocahontas Memorial Hospital, WVU Hospital, Inc., United Hospital Center, Inc., City of Charleston, City of Charleston Sanitary Board, City of Martinsburg, and the Barbour, Grant, Greenbrier, Monongalia, Taylor and Wood County boards of education.

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