AFTRA Retirement Fund reaches settlement with JPMorgan Chase
JPMorgan Chase & Co. has agreed to pay $150 million to settle a lawsuit filed by the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists Retirement Fund and other investors over losses incurred in the midst of the global financial crisis.
The settlement was disclosed in recent filings with the U.S. District Court in Manhattan. The settlement allows the parties to "avoid the risks and costs associated with trial, as well as potential years of continued litigation on appeal," the plaintiffs said in court documents.
If approved by the court, the settlement would end litigation that began in 2009, when AFTRA's pension fund sued JPMorgan, alleging the firm improperly handled the fund's investments in a securites loan program operated by Sigma Finance Corp., an investment fund created by Gordian Knot Ltd. in London, which collapsed in October 2008. The suit alleged that JPMorgan Chase lost a "substantial portion" in cash collateral in medium-term notes issued by Sigma Finance.
Creditors seized more than $25 billion of Sigma's $27 billion in assets in September and October 2008, leaving about $1.9 billion as security for about $6.2 billion of outstanding medium-term notes.
JPMorgan "buried its head in the sand and refused to heed warnings signs" that the company would not be able to repay its notes, according to the complaint. AFTRA was joined in the suit by pension plans for the Manhattan and Bronx Surface Transit Operating Authority and the Imperial County Employees Retirement System.
A preliminary hearing on the settelment has been scheduled for June 4.
Representatives of the AFTRA Retirement Fund declined to comment on the settlement or how much of the $150 million it would receive. AFTRA represents about 70,000 actors, dancers, singers and other performers. The unions members are voting this month on whether to merge with the larger Screen Actors Guild.
-- Richard Verrier
Photo: Music video performers rally for safe, fair working conditions and health care for AFTRA members. Credit: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times