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Home > Blog > Pennsylvania Securities Commission Orders Wachovia to Refund $324.6M to ARS investors

Pennsylvania Securities Commission Orders Wachovia to Refund $324.6M to ARS investors

In the wake of the collapse of the auction rate securities market in February 2008, many of the nation’s largest financial institutions quickly agreed to settlements with state securities regulators as a way to resolve charges they misled retail and institutional investors about the liquidity risks of the instruments they underwrote.

The latest state to order a Wall Street institution to buy back auction rate securities from investors is Pennsylvania, which on Aug. 11 ordered Wells Fargo & Co.’s Wachovia unit to buy back $324.6 million of auction rate securities from an estimated 1,300 Pennsylvania retail investors.

Wachovia also will pay a $2.52 million assessment to the state for its role in the auction rate securities market.

In a press release on the ARS agreement with Wachovia, Pennsylvania Securities Commissioner Steven Irwin said the bank “marketed and sold these securities as safe, liquid and cash-like investments when, in fact, they were long-term investments subject to a complex auction process that failed in early 2008, leading to illiquidity and lower interest rates for investors.”  

The Pennsylvania Securities Commission is continuing its investigation of other investment firms and their sales of auction rate securities. In July, the regulator ordered TD Ameritrade to repurchase $26.5 million of auction-rate securities. That same month, Pennsylvania also reached a settlement with Citigroup over ARS sales. That settlement, which was part of a larger deal agreed to with 12 states, required Citigroup to buy back $978.1 million worth of auction rate securities from Pennsylvania investors. In addition, Citigroup paid a $2.31 million fine to the Pennsylvania Securities Commission.

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