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Credit Suisse must face lawsuit over U.S. 'volatility' crash

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Jonathan Stempel
·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: Logo of Swiss bank Credit Suisse is seen in Zurich
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By Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. appeals court on Tuesday revived a lawsuit accusing Credit Suisse Group AG of causing huge losses by defrauding investors in a complex product for betting on stock market swings that lost 96% of its value in a single day.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan said investors could try to prove Credit Suisse intended to collapse the market for its VelocityShares Daily Inverse VIX Short-Term Exchange-Traded Notes ("XIV Notes") through just 15 minutes of its own trading of futures contracts.

Set Capital LLC and other investors in the proposed class action claimed they lost $1.8 billion, while the Swiss bank reaped at least $475 million in profit at their expense.

The 3-0 decision adds to problems facing Credit Suisse, which recently lost $4.7 billion when the hedge fund Archegos Capital Management collapsed, and has been sued over its ties to Archegos and another client, the failed supply chain financier Greensill Capital.

XIV notes imploded on Feb. 5, 2018, when the Standard & Poor's 500 dropped 4.1% and unexpected market turbulence punished investors betting on low volatility.

Circuit Judge John Walker said investors could pursue claims that Credit Suisse manipulated the market for the notes while downplaying the risks in offering documents.

"The complaint plausibly alleges both motive and opportunity to commit a manipulative act, as well as strong circumstantial evidence of conscious misbehavior or recklessness," he wrote.

Credit Suisse spokeswoman Candice Sun declined to comment.

Michael Eisenkraft, the investors' lawyer, said: "We look forward to prosecuting these claims vigorously."

The price of XIV notes plunged as low as $4.22 from $108.37 during the collapse. Credit Suisse later redeemed them at $5.99 each.

When dismissing the case in September 2019, U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres in Manhattan adopted a magistrate judge's findings that Credit Suisse had simply taken advantage of market conditions, and was not trying to defraud investors.

The appeals court returned the case to Torres.

The case is Set Capital LLC et al v Credit Suisse Group AG et al, 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 19-3466.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Matthew Lewis)