Investment deals involving collateral-debt obligations (CDOs) have come back to haunt Wells Fargo & Co. Wells has agreed to pay $11.2 million to settle charges by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that its Wachovia Capital Markets LLC unit sold CDOs to a Zuni American Indian tribe and other investors at prices 70% higher than its own estimate of the mark-to-market value of the securities.
As reported April 6 by Investment News, the SEC’s complaint alleges that Wachovia failed to inform investors in another CDO that it had transferred 40 residential mortgage-backed securities from an affiliate at above-market prices to avoid losses on its own books.
“Wachovia caused significant losses to the Zuni Indians and other investors by violating basic investor protection rules – don’t charge secret excessive markups and don’t use stale prices when telling buyers that assets are priced at fair market value,” said Robert Khuzami, director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement, in a statement.
Wells Fargo, without admitting or denying the allegations, will pay restitution of $6.75 million and a $4.45 million penalty. A total of $7.4 million will be returned to investors who were harmed by the misconduct, according to the SEC.
Wells Fargo purchased Wachovia in 2008.