S&C clients Barclays and Goldman Sachs, along with other major banks and trading platforms, prevailed in their motions to dismiss an amended putative class action brought by investors in U.S. Treasury products.
Plaintiffs asserted antitrust and unjust enrichment claims based on an alleged manipulation of U.S. Treasury auctions and an alleged group-boycott conspiracy to suppress competition in the U.S. Treasury market by preventing non-broker-dealers from trading with each other on electronic trading platforms.
On March 31, Judge Paul Gardephe of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, dismissed the claims with prejudice. The judge had previously dismissed the claims in March 2021 without prejudice, and the plaintiffs amended their complaint.
In his ruling last year, Judge Gardephe held that plaintiffs failed to allege direct or circumstantial evidence of the purported conspiracies. Among other things, he rejected plaintiffs’ allegation that defendants used their purported control over Tradeweb to cause the trading platform to launch a competing platform, Dealerweb, that supposedly deterred other platforms from allowing access to buy-side investors. Judge Gardephe held that plaintiffs failed to plead adequately that defendants “actually used Dealerweb in an anti-competitive manner or as a means to refuse to deal with any other market participant.”
In his recent decision, Judge Gardephe found that the plaintiffs’ amendments failed to cure the pleading defects, even though the plaintiffs had added statements from an unidentified former “UBS Executive,” excerpts from five Bloomberg chats, and new statistical analyses. He found that the allegations regarding the UBS Executive were neither direct evidence of a conspiracy nor showed parallel conduct. The chat excerpts did not implicate any defendants other than those who participated in them, and the new statistical analyses did not address the core deficiency in the plaintiffs’ prior statistical allegations—namely that they were not aimed at any particular auction defendant. As to the alleged boycott conspiracy, Judge Gardephe found that the new allegations were largely conclusory, among other things.
The team for Barclays included Matt Schwartz, Katy McArthur, Daniel Loevinsohn and Frank Orlich. The team for Goldman Sachs included Rick Pepperman, Jonathan Carter and Alexandra Bodo. Amanda Davidoff represented Nomura before it was voluntarily dismissed.
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