The US Department of Justice sued Barclays Plc and two former executives on charges of fraud in the sale of US mortgage securities in the run-up to the financial crisis.
The British bank was accused of deceiving investors about the quality of loans underlying tens of billions of dollars of mortgage securities between 2005 and 2007, Reuters reports, citing the lawsuit, which was filed in US District Court in Brooklyn, New York.
Loans had been made to borrowers with no ability to repay and were based on inflated home appraisals, the complaint said.
“With this filing, we are sending a clear message that the Department of Justice will not tolerate the defrauding of investors and the American people,” US Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a statement.
Barclays said the claims in the lawsuit are “disconnected from the facts” and that it has an obligation to defend against “unreasonable allegations and demands”.
In terms of demands, Barclays was apparently referring to negotiations with the Justice Department to settle the claims without a case being filed.
“Barclays will vigorously defend the complaint and seek its dismissal at the earliest opportunity,” its statement said.
The bank’s US-traded shares fell 1.8 percent to US$11.07 at the close of regular trading on Thursday.
Barclays is among a number of European banks that have been under investigation for misconduct in the sale of mortgage securities, which contributed to the 2008 financial crisis.
Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse are in negotiations over similar claims, sources have told Reuters.
Major US banks including JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Bank of America have already paid tens of billions of dollars to settle with US authorities over their pooling and sale of the securities.
According to the lawsuit against Barclays, more than half the underlying loans in US$31 billion worth of mortgage loans pooled into 36 deals defaulted.
In addition to Barclays and affiliated companies, the lawsuit accuses two executives of illegal behavior central to the scheme: John T. Carroll and Paul Menefee, both former managing directors at Barclays Capital units.
Carroll, Barclays head subprime trader in the run-up to the housing crisis, and Menefee, the banker in charge of due diligence on the subprime deals, are accused of intentionally misrepresenting and omitting key information on the securities.
– Contact us at [email protected]