Both Lehman Brothers and UBS have had more than their fair share of bad press over the last three years, but are they cut from the same cloth? A recent article in Forbes makes the argument that they are. September marked the three-year anniversary of Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy and the arrest of a UBS trader in London for fraud. When the world financial markets were shattered by the collapse of Lehman in 2008, many investors were left with annihilated life savings and retirement accounts.
Though it may appear that the most recent UBS incident and Lehman Brothers’ collapse are different events, according to Forbes’ article, “The players may be different but the rules are the same.” The “Delta One” trading desk used by the UBS trader and ETFs he was trading have a similar concept to the Lehman Brothers Principled Protected Notes sold by Lehman and UBS and both were excessively risky. Furthermore, UBS and Lehman worked cooperatively to dump the PPNs on investors, causing them significant losses.
Since the fiasco began, claimants been victorious in almost all securities arbitration cases against UBS and recovered their losses that resulted from the Lehman Structured Product Notes. However, criminal charges have not been brought against any Lehman executives, a measure of justice that is yet to be realized. According to an article in The New York Times, this is a case in which “brokers selling complex securities that they once contended were safe and sound have saddled individual investors with billions in losses since the credit bubble burst. Remember auction-rate securities? Those were peddled to investors as just as good as cash — until they no longer were after that market seized up in 2008.”
According to the Forbes article, “The legacy of Lehman is that Wall Street’s greed trumps any sense of obligation the banks might have to their own customer.” If this is true and nothing is done to prevent situations like this in the future, an already risky investment world will continue to be a perilous one for the average investor.