Merrill Lynch Gets Off Cheap


Wall Street tourists with a sense of humor have their picture taken with the anatomically correct other end of the landmark sculpture, which lives on the traffic median in front of the old Standard Oil Building.

Merrill Lynch settlement approved by judge: The bullish gang gets off with a settlement that provides investors with 6.25% of the damages they were seeking over improper nondisclosure of conflicts of interest. The lawyers got about $10 million in fees.

A US federal judge has given his approval to a $40 million settlement to end legal proceedings brought against Merrill Lynch by its mutual fund customers.

Merrill Lynch is in the news down here for employing the 20-something São Paulo real estate princeling and trained fashion stylist — the one who pressed the infamous YouTube SLAPP suit down here — as an investor banker in its São Paulo office.

An apparent conflict with the Reality Principle — what does a fashion stylist know, after a couple years of pondering plaid twills and pink as the new black, that we mere mortals need to take their rocket science B.A.’s to Wharton or MIT to learn by sweating blood? — it need not even bother to conceal.

Having friends in high places means never having to say you’re sorry.

Nearly 400,000 investors took legal action against the bank, accusing Merrill of failing to disclose conflicts of interest between its brokerage and underwriting businesses.

Synergies or sacanagens?

They alleged that their mutual funds invested in companies with whom Merrill Lynch had investment banking business, and that this was not revealed to investors.

Social change agency or junk science?

Lawyers representing the investors also said that Merrill Lynch had provided misleading analysis research about some of the companies involved.

In law and economics terms, a victory for the bull bankers.

The settlement, which was called “substantively fair and reasonable” by district judge John F Keenan, will see the investors receive around 6.25 per cent of the $645 million in damages that they initially sought.

And the lawyers, of course.

The lawyers employed by the investors were also paid their expenses and fees – totaling $9.37 million.

Let me see what I can find on the blawgs about this case. Did the funds claim actually losses and get those fully or partially reimbursed? The rest being punitive? Or what?

The interesting part is always the set of facts at issue, and how the courts parse that fine line between semantic legerdemain on side or the other of that ambiguous Waziristan between truth and fiction.

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