* Judge says Woori missed S.Korea deadline
* Lawsuit was about CDOs bought before the financial crisis
* Woori suit against RBS has also been dismissed
* Citi motion to have Woori suit dismissed is pending
By Jessica Dye
NEW YORK, Feb 6 A U.S. judge threw out a lawsuit
from South Korea's Woori Bank accusing Bank of America Corp's
Merrill Lynch unit of misleading investors about the
riskiness of collateralized debt obligations, saying the suit
had missed a deadline under South Korean law.
U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero said the 2012 lawsuit had
been filed after a three-year deadline under South Korean law
had expired. Woori Bank, which is owned by Woori Finance
Holdings Co Ltd, argued that it had three years from
when the U.S. Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission published a
Jan. 27, 2011 report on the economic crisis to bring its claims.
But the judge disagreed in a ruling dated Feb. 5 that was
released Wednesday. Marrero said Woori should have been aware of
the "overall controversy surrounding Merrill Lynch's CDO
investments" several years earlier, as lawyers for Merrill Lynch
U.S. lawyers for Woori did not immediately return requests
for comment Wednesday evening. A spokesman for Bank of America,
Bill Halldin, said the company was pleased with the court's
decision. Bank of America bought Merrill Lynch in 2008.
Woori had accused Merrill Lynch of misrepresenting the
riskiness of seven CDOs in which Woori had invested in 2005 and
2006. In all, Woori invested $143 million in those CDOs,
according to the ruling.
Woori accused Merrill of inducing it to invest by concealing
information about the riskiness of the underlying mortgages and
the credit ratings assigned to those CDOs. The lawsuit sought at
least $143 million and other damages for claims including fraud,
negligent misrepresentation and unjust enrichment.
Created in the aftermath of the 1997 Asian financial crisis,
Woori became the South Korean financial sector's biggest victim
of the U.S. subprime mortgage crisis, writing off much of a
roughly $1.5 billion stake in credit default swaps and CDOs.
It sued several U.S. banks in connection with those losses,
including Citigroup Inc and Royal Bank of Scotland Group
Plc. A federal judge dismissed the case against RBS in
December. Citigroup's motion to dismiss the lawsuit against it
is still pending.
The case is Woori Bank v. Merrill Lynch et al., in the U.S.
District Court for the Southern District of New York, no.