Lehman Brothers structured notes were sold worldwide by firms including UBS and Citigroup as a conservative investment. They turned out to be very risky and worthless. Investors around the globe are investigating what potential legal claims they may have, against whom and where. These issues need to be analyzed in detail.
According to a recent BusinessWeek article, a Lehman Brothers subsidiary in Amsterdam manufactured $30 billion in structured notes from 2003 through 2008. A structured note can be defined as a debt obligation which also contains an embedded derivative component with characteristics that may adjust to the security’s risk-return profile. The performance of a structured note tracks that of the underlying debt obligation and the derivative embedded within it. Many of these notes are extremely complex and hard to understand by even institutional investors. The BusinessWeek article reports that “Lehman’s Amsterdam notes were bafflingly complex. In all, the unit issued some 4,000 variations, and the documentation for each type often ran to 600 pages.”
International firms including UBS and Citigroup pitched these notes to investors as safe investments. However, they were extremely risky and became worthless when Lehman filed for bankruptcy. Attempting to recover one’s investment through any of the Lehman bankruptcy proceedings may prove difficult. However, investors in the U.S. and worldwide may have potential claims against the entities (such as UBS and Citigroup) which sold the Lehman notes. Our firm and others in the U.S. have already been retained by many investors. Investors outside the U.S. should investigate whether they can bring potential claims against any U.S. based broker-dealer or an affiliate of a U.S. based bank in the U.S. court system or in arbitration. Historically, international investors have been able to commence FINRA arbitrations against U.S. broker-dealers or affiliates of U.S. firms in New York for actions which took place abroad.