State Street Corporation to Pay $115 Million Criminal Penalty and Enter Into Deferred Prosecution Agreement in Connection With Scheme to Overcharge Custody Customers
BOSTON – Massachusetts-based global financial services company State Street Corporation entered into a deferred prosecution agreement and agreed to pay a $115 million criminal penalty to resolve charges that it engaged in a scheme to defraud a number of the bank’s clients by secretly overcharging for expenses related to the bank’s custody of client assets.
“State Street defrauded its own clients of hundreds of millions of dollars over decades in a most pedestrian way: they tacked on hidden markups to routine charges for out-of-pocket expenses,” said the Acting United States Attorney Nathaniel R. Mendell. “The resolution requires State Street to take responsibility for the damage it caused and is a signal from us that financial giants will be held accountable for fraudulent conduct.”
“With today’s settlement, State Street Corporation is finally acknowledging that it has defrauded its clients out of more than $290 million, through a deceitful scheme that was in practice for 17 years,” said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division. “The consequences for companies who cheat the marketplace and American consumers are significant and clear. The FBI will aggressively investigate those who engage in illegal business practices while ensuring their activity is brought to a halt.”
According to State Street’s admissions, between 1998 and 2015, bank executives conspired to add secret markups to “out-of-pocket” (OOP) expenses charged to the bank’s clients while letting clients believe that State Street was billing OOP expenses as pass-through charges on which the bank was not earning a profit. These markups were charged on top of fees that the clients had agreed to pay the bank, and despite written agreements that caused clients to believe the expenses would be passed through to them without a mark-up. State Street executives also took steps to conceal the mark-ups from clients, including by not disclosing the details underlying OOP expenses on invoices and by misleading clients when they inquired about what they were being charged for OOP-related activities. Through this scheme, State Street defrauded its clients out of more than $290 million.
State Street entered into a deferred prosecution agreement in connection with a criminal information charging the company with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Pursuant to the agreement, State Street agreed to pay a criminal penalty of $115 million. State Street also agreed to continue to cooperate with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in any ongoing investigations and prosecutions relating to the conduct, to enhance its compliance program, and to retain an independent corporate compliance monitor for a period of two years.
This resolution is based on a number of factors, including that State Street voluntarily disclosed the misconduct, fully cooperated with the investigation, and agreed to fully reimburse the victims of the misconduct for amounts they were overcharged.
Acting U.S. Attorney Mendell and FBI Boston SAC Bonavolonta made the announcement today. Valuable assistance was provided by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Justin D. O’Connell, of Mendell’s Securities, Financial & Cyber Fraud Unit, and Abraham George, of Mendell’s Affirmative Civil Enforcement Unit, are prosecuting the case.