Attorney Linda Grant Williams filed a civil lawsuit against Citigroup Inc. and Citigroup Global Markets Inc. last week, alleging that they had conspired to prevent her from successfully marketing a patented financing structure.
The suit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York, seeks unspecified damages.
Williams said in the complaint that she created and patented a financing structure that would allow tax-exempt bonds sold for airport terminals to be rated on passenger demand at the terminals, rather than the financial strength of the airlines. Williams asserted that this would allow municipalities to issue bonds at substantially lower rates than they are able to currently. The structure is based on one that has been used for sports facilities.
The suit alleges that Citigroup controls 73% of the market for underwriting airport special facility bonds, and that her financing structure threatened their control of the market and profits the bank makes on the secondary market and through derivative contracts.
Williams, who is now a partner at Dreier LLP, claims that she lost jobs at two law firms, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP and Greenberg Traurig LLP, after Citigroup pressured the firms to let her go because she was trying to market her financing structure. Citigroup, Pillsbury, and Greenberg declined to comment.
The suit further alleges that Citigroup interfered with a terminal deal with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. She claims the agency had given conditional approval to using the financing, but an authority spokesman disputed this. “We did not give any kind of approvals,” Pasquale DiFulco said.