Canada’s BMO books $834 mln charge over U.S. Ponzi lawsuit loss
Canada’s Bank of Montreal (BMO) (BMO.TO) booked a charge of C$1.12 billion ($834.2 million) on Tuesday after a U.S. jury found its local unit liable for over $550 million in damages in relation to a Ponzi scheme operated by a Minnesota businessman.
The businessman, Thomas Petters, was found guilty of orchestrating a $3.65 billion Ponzi scheme in 2009 and sentenced to 50 years in prison.
The lawsuit in Minnesota sought to recoup nearly $2 billion based on sums Petters transferred from an account at Marshall & Ilsley Bank (M&I) between 2002 and 2008.
The fraud was uncovered in 2008 and the sums became unavailable for repayment to creditors, a trustee said in the plaintiff’s briefing.
BMO bought M&I in 2011 and assumed the liability. The lawsuit listed the bank’s U.S. unit, BMO Harris Bank, as the defendant.
The jury ruled M&I “aided and abetted” Petters in the breach of fiduciary duty to his firm, Petters Company Inc (PCI). The jury did not find the BMO Harris Bank directly aided the fraud.
The unit said it would contest the jury’s verdict and award.
“We are disappointed with the jury’s verdict, which is not supported by the evidence or the law,” a spokesperson for the unit said in a statement.
BMO said the C$1.12 billion provision included an after-tax charge of C$830 million that it will book in the fourth quarter.
($1 = 1.3426 Canadian dollars)