Oregon joined a class action suit against UBS AG in an effort to recover over $25 million the Oregon Public Employees’ Retirement Fund lost on the company’s stock as charges of securities fraud and tax evasion surfaced over the past three years.
The lawsuit alleges that the bank hurt shareholders by failing to disclose its exposure to the subprime mortgage market, “fraudulently” marketing auction-rate securities, and by helping wealthy Americans evade taxes.
Last August, the bank agreed to pay $150 million in fines and to buy back $18.6 billion of auction-rate securities after charges it failed to disclose the risk that investors would be stuck holding ARS after failed auctions. In February, UBS shares dove after it agreed to pay $780 million to avert criminal charges for allegedly helping American clients evade taxes.
“UBS engaged in a massive scheme to help wealthy clients evade their taxes,” said Attorney General John Kroger said in a statement. “We intend to hold UBS accountable for their illegal and unethical conduct.”
The bank’s U.S. media relations office did not return calls seeking comment. The company’s UBS Securities LLC unit exited the municipal bond underwriting business last year.
Oregon alleges that it lost more than $25 million on UBS stock from Feb. 13, 2006, to Jan. 26, 2009, “as the public became aware of the company’s fraudulent actions.”
Oregon is seeking to join the case — In re UBS AG Securities Litigation — as co-lead plaintiff. The New Orleans Public Employees Retirement System is lead plaintiff in a similar class action suit filed in January.