Launched the first class action brought on behalf of Bank of New York Mellon Corp’s (BNY Mellon) Forex (FX) trading clients.
On behalf of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) Pension Fund and a class of similarly situated domestic custodial clients of BNY Mellon, we alleged that BNY Mellon secretly assigned a spread to the FX rates at which it transacted FX transactions on behalf of its clients who participated in the BNY Mellon’s automated “Standing Instruction” FX service. BNY Mellon determining this spread by executing its clients’ transactions at one rate and then, typically, at the end of the trading day, assigned a rate to its clients which approximated the worst possible rates of the trading day, pocketing the difference as riskless profit. This practice was undertaken by the bank despite BNY Mellon’s contractual promises that its Standing Instruction service was designed to provide “best execution,” was “free of charge” and provided the “best rates of the day.” The case asserted claims for breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty on behalf of BNY Mellon’s custodial clients and sought to recover the unlawful profits that BNY Mellon earned from its unfair and unlawful FX practices. The case was litigated in collaboration with separate cases brought by state and federal agencies. Kessler Topaz served as lead counsel and Mr. Meltzer was a member of three person executive committee overseeing the private litigation.
After extensive discovery, including more than 100 depositions, over 25 million pages of fact discovery, and the submission of multiple expert reports, Plaintiffs reached a settlement with BNY Mellon of $335 million. Additionally, the settlement was administered with separate recoveries by state and federal agencies which brought the total recovery for BNY Mellon’s custodial customers to $504 million. The settlement was finally approved on September 24, 2015. In approving the settlement, Judge Lewis Kaplan praised counsel for a “wonderful job,” recognizing that they were “fought tooth and nail at every step of the road.” In further recognition of the efforts of counsel, Judge Kaplan noted that “[t]his was an outrageous wrong by the Bank of New York Mellon, and plaintiffs’ counsel deserve a world of credit for taking it on, for running the risk, for financing it and doing a great job.”