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Regulatory Sanctions

UBS Considers Refusing a Justice Department Settlement

March 9, 2017

UBS may be sitting on a $14 billion reserve to cover the cost of any settlement it reaches with the Department of Justice over its sale of toxic mortgage backed securities leading up to the credit crisis of 2008, but that doesn’t mean the Swiss bank will necessarily agree to a settlement. How interesting!


In stating that “all options are open in the resolution of those matters,” UBS CEO Sergio Ermotti gave the first hint that the bank might take a hard line in its dealing with the Justice Department. During that same press conference in January, Ermotti added: "First of all, we have to have the facts. … We can’t talk about the resolution of any matters if you don’t know the facts." One such fact is the settlement amount that the Justice Department puts on the table.


Back in December, rival bank Barclays refused to settle its mortgage-backed bond case, saying the Justice Department’s demands were too high. By contrast, Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse both agreed to settle – DB for $7.2 billion, and CS for $5.3 billion.


One other bank - Royal Bank of Scotland – must deal with the Justice Department on a similar matter, although those discussions have not yet begun. For the record, RBS has reserved nearly $4 billion to cover any settlement that it reaches.