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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Wells Fargo and Auction Rate Securities

by Calculated Risk on 4/23/2009 06:31:00 PM

A friend called me up early last year and told me that she had just put a significant amount of money in Auction Rate Securities with Wells Fargo. She started to tell me what a great deal it was, and I interrupted her: "Hang up. Call Wells Fargo. Get out now." She called Wells Fargo immediately, and she couldn't sell - and she has been stuck in this "investment" ever since.

From the LA Times: Wells Fargo accused of securities fraud by state lawsuit

California today sued investment subsidiaries of Wells Fargo & Co. for securities fraud, alleging that the San Francisco financial services company misled investors by selling $1.5 billion worth of risky securities that it peddled as being as safe as cash.

The securities "were sold to customers on the basis that they were like cash and people could get their money back in eight days," Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown said in an interview. "Now, it turns out they were not like cash and people can't get their money back even after many, many months, and they're mad as hell."
My friend was also told these securities were "as good as cash" and she could get her money back with eight days notice. It is especially irritating to see a Wells Fargo spokesperson say:
"We fully understand and deeply regret the effects this prolonged liquidity crisis has had on our clients," Charles W. Daggs, chief executive of Wells Fargo Investments, said in a statement.

"Wells Fargo could not have predicted these extraordinary circumstances, and even with the benefit of hindsight is not responsible for them."
Yeah, hoocoodanode?