friday, 29 july of 2016

Judge Dismisses $24 Billion Lawsuit Against Credit Suisse

A federal judge has dismissed a $24 billion lawsuit accusing Credit Suisse of running a predatory loan-to-own scheme that plaintiffs claimed loaded four luxury ski and golf resorts with debt so it could foreclose on their assets.

Judge Justin L. Quackenbush of the U.S. District Court in Idaho granted a request from Credit Suisse and real estate adviser Cushman & Wakefield for summary judgment, dismissing the suit and handing a big victory to the two companies in a six-year-long legal battle involving ultra-luxe vacation resorts in the Caribbean and western U.S.

The lawsuit, filed in 2010 on behalf of more than 3,000 homeowners, property owners and other investors, accused Credit Suisse of piling the resorts up with debt during the real estate boom so it could foreclose on their assets.

The property owners accused Cushman of aiding Credit Suisse’s purported scheme by creating a property-appraisal methodology that artificially inflated the resorts’ values.

Representatives for the property owners, Credit Suisse and Cushman weren’t immediately available for comment.

In a 45-page opinion, Judge Quackenbush said the homeowners failed to show “Credit Suisse wanted to own the resorts.” In addition, the judge ruled Cushman’s appraisals didn’t cause the property owners’ losses.

The judge said property owners failed to show that a loan-to-own program devised by Credit Suisse—and not the nationwide housing market collapse—caused the resorts’ developers to default.

The property owners claimed to have lost more than $8 billion, for which they sought three times that amount in the damages, on their investments at Ginn Sur Mer Resort in the Bahamas, the Lake Las Vegas resort in Nevada, the Tamarack Resort in Idaho and the Yellowstone Club in Montana.

Credit Suisse was a big player in arranging the financing of a number of upscale Western resorts that have since tumbled into bankruptcy. The bank marketed the loans to the developers of the high-end resorts.

The bank and its appraisers, however, used an uncommon appraisal method to value the properties. Known as “total net value,” the method relied on future expected revenue for the developers, rather than more traditional methods based on how the market valued the properties at the time.

The plaintiffs argued that the property valuations and loans were too high, burdening the developers when the property market crashed a decade ago.

Eventually, a dozen properties valued by the new method collapsed into bankruptcy or were forced to restructure, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars in losses for investors and property owners.

Credit Suisse ended up buying some of the properties at discounted rates after they collapsed in value.

(Published by The Wall Street Journal - July 28, 2016)

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