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Citigroup, Pennsylvania Reach Deal on Auction Rate Securitis

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We have another auction rate securities settlement to report.  This time, Citigroup has reached an agreement with the state of Pennsylvania which requires that it offer to buy back auction rate securities from over a thousand investors in the state.

Under the settlement, Citigroup will pay the Pennsylvania Securities Commission $2.31 million, and offer to buy back buy back $978.1 million worth of the securities from 1200 retail investors in Pennsylvania who held the securities from Citigroup as of Jan. 21, 2008.

The Pennsylvania settlement with Citigroup is part of a larger settlement reached with 12 states.  According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, in May, New Jersey reached a settlement with Citigroup requiring the bank to pay $3.3 million and offer to repurchase as much as $623.5 million in auction-rate securities from 2,873 individual investors in the state.  Delaware reached a settlement with Citigroup in April, requiring the firm to pay a $309,000 fine.

Auction rate securities are long-term corporate bonds, municipal bonds and preferred stock on which the interest rates are reset periodically based on bids submitted through securities firms. Generally, rates are reset every seven, 14, 28 or 35 days. Because they can be sold during weekly or monthly auctions, banks and brokerages often touted auction rate securities as short-term investments or cash equivalents. Unfortunately, because of the credit crises, the market for auction rate securities crashed earlier in 2008 Thousands of investors were bewildered to find out that the investments they were sold as cash equivalents were illiquid.

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