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Decade-Old Fraud May Expose Credit Suisse to about $2 Billion in Liabilities

Last Friday, U.S. District Judge James Graham gave an indication that under New York law, Credit Suisse can be held solely responsible for fraud committed a decade ago by Lance Poulsen, the co-founder and CEO of National Century Financial Enterprises, who is presumed insolvent, and is currently serving a 30-year prison term. National Century had filed for bankruptcy protection in 2002.

During a Jan. 7 court hearing, Graham had commented, “there seems to be general agreement that if the plaintiffs succeed in this litigation, they would recover something in the range of almost $2 billion.”

With Poulsen and Credit Suisse remaining the last defendants in the case, Credit Suisse sought a ruling to avoid bearing the sole responsibility of fraud committed by Poulsen. However, on Friday, Graham observed, “Even if Credit Suisse could prove at trial that Poulsen is insolvent, its argument that responsibility for some portion of his share should be shifted away from Credit Suisse and redistributed among the settling defendants finds no support in the (law).”

While it was operating, National Century used to finance medical service providers and bought accounts receivable from them. The purchase money was arranged for by selling notes to investors. Bondholders, including the state of Arizona, Lloyds TSB Bank Plc, MetLife, AllianceBernstein and et cetera, accused that Credit Suisse had deceived them about the status of the company and had overlooked the $2.9 billion fraud.

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According to the U.S. Department of Justice, National Century abused the trust of investors, misused their money, funneled company funds to the pockets of its top executives, and persistently lied to investors to hide the commission of fraud.

A trial in the matter would be held on April 1.

The cases, all in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, are Crown Cork & Seal Co et al v. Credit Suisse First Boston Corp et al, No. 12-05803; Arizona v. Credit Suisse First Boston Corp et al, No. 12-05804; City of Chandler et al v. Bank One NA et al, No. 12-05805; Lloyds TSB Bank Plc v. Bank One NA et al, No. 12-07263; and Metropolitan Life Insurance Co et al v. Bank One et al, No. 12-07264.

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