New York Post By Kevin Dugan
Just when Wall Street thought it was out, the Justice Department pulls it back in.
After the big banks paid billions in settlements for crisis-era sins, federal prosecutors continue to pursue criminal charges against bankers for debt deals backed by everything from mortgages to corporate loans.
The US Attorney’s office in Connecticut is pursuing a criminal case against the Royal Bank of Scotland and at least two traders tied to complex debt securities, known as collateralized loan obligations, that were packaged and sold to investors through 2013, according to two sources briefed on the case.
Deirdre M. Daly, the top federal prosecutor in the state, could bring fraud charges before the end of the year against the UK-based banking giant and its traders for allegedly inflating the prices of the loan securities, one source said.
The names of the traders couldn’t be learned.
A spokesman for RBS declined to comment as did a spokesman for Daly’s office.
The federal probe comes as an appeals court weighs whether to toss the 2014 conviction of Jesse Litvak, an ex-Jefferies trader who was sentenced to two years in jail for lying to customers about bond pricing.
Litvak was found guilty by a federal jury in New Haven, Conn., of securities fraud and making false statements for claiming the bank paid more than it did for securities of bundled home loans.
One judge on the US Court of Appeals in New York has questioned whether Litvak did anything wrong.
There’s a “certain amount of license and puffery” in the negotiations between bond traders, US Circuit Judge Barrington D. Parker said in May during a hearing.
The appeals court is expected to rule soon on Litvak’s appeal.
Meanwhile, the Connecticut US Attorney’s investigation hinges on the cooperating testimony of former RBS banker Matthew Katke. A lawyer for Katke didn’t return a call seeking comment.
Katke pleaded guilty in March to inflating prices for CLOs, which are pools of corporate loans and other debt, for more than five years while working at RBS in Stamford, Conn., until he left in 2013.
The criminal investigation of RBS executives is the second to come to light in recent weeks.
The US attorney in Boston is also investigating executives at RBS and JPMorgan Chase over the sale of soured mortgage-backed securities, the Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month.