Credit Suisse Ex-Trader Could Be Extradited On Fraud Charge

Credit Suisse Ex-Trader Could Be Extradited On Fraud Charge
By Credit Suisse Group AG (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

A Credit Suisse Group AG (NYSE:CS) ex-trader, currently resident in the United Kingdom, has had his extradition to the United States approved by a British court. The banker has been charged with fraud, relating to mortgage backed securities trades during the financial crisis.

Credit Suisse Ex-Trader Could Be Extradited On Fraud Charge

Kareem Serageldin, who was formerly the head of the Credit Suisse Group AG (NYSE:CS) global trade in Collateralized Debt Obligations, agreed to the extradition today. The extradition deal must be approved by the United Kingdom’s Home Secretary before it can be followed through on. That approval is regular practice in all extradition cases in the United States.

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The accusations against the banker center on trades of mortgage backed securities in 2007. The prosecution alleges that Serageldin was part of a scheme to artificially inflate the price of the Collateralize Debt Obligations, or CDOs, in order to increase the bonuses they received at the end of the year.

The inflation by Serageldin, who was born in Egypt, and another trader, were responsible for a $540 million write down in Credit Suisse Group AG (NYSE:CS) assets in 2008. The firm has not been deemed legally culpable for the crimes of the two traders, and has avoided any attempt at prosecution. Earlier this week, it emerged that BlackRock, Inc. (NYSE:BLK) was planning to buy the company’s ETF business.

The case is one of the first in which US prosecutors are seeking to bring charges against UK traders that affected outcomes in the US mortgage market in the run up to the financial crisis in 2008. The outcome of the trial will set a precedent for what are sure to be many to come. The SEC still has a huge amount of cases relating to the financial crisis lined up, and the legal complexity of the cases means that they could stretch on for years yet.

The agency has seen several changes at the top in recent months, meaning that a new team will take on this case, and the many other left over from the 2008 collapse of the financial markets. The new management cannot, however, be blamed for the change of circumstances in his case.

Mr. Serageldin had been cooperating with his prosecutors in this case, and was surprised by his arrest last September. The arrest saw him brought up on charges relating to the case, and saw him placed under house arrest, a situation which continues to this day.

The former banker had requested that he serve whatever jail time he may be give in the United Kingdom rather than the United States. He has lived in Britain, for some years, and has revealed plans to reject his US citizenship in order to allow him to serve his time in the country. Whether such  ploy will work in the wake of an extradition order will be interesting.

One of the many outstanding cases relating to the CDO trading bubble toward the end of the last decade, this case, like so many other continues to drag on. The results, long awaited by the American people, may not be seen for years, and the longer that period stretches, the less relevant the sentences seem, for retribution, for rehabilitation, and as a disincentive.

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