By Carrick Mollenkamp
NEW YORK Nov 8 Bank of New York Mellon Corp
agreed to a deal with Virginia over allegations it
overcharged the state pensions plans for currency trades,
according to public records and sources.
The terms of the deal between the bank and state officials
representing the Virginia Retirement System Fund and other state
pensions plans were not immediately known.
Virginia sued BNY Mellon in state court and was seeking $1
billion in damages.
BNY Mellon said in a statement it has renewed its contract
with the Virginia state pension for another five years. But the
bank declined to comment on any deal over the litigation.
The settlement ends one legal chapter for the bank, but it
still faces many other lawsuits from pensions funds in other
Virginia's case was among the first to allege the bank was
converting currency based on prices at the end of the day
instead of when the trades took place, potentially costing
clients millions of dollars.
BNY Mellon, which traces it roots back to Alexander Hamilton
and is the nation's oldest bank, has been vigorously challenging
The Virginia lawsuit filed by Virginia Attorney General
Kenneth Cuccinelli was an outgrowth of an earlier suit brought
by a whistleblower group that sued the bank on behalf of the
Virginia Retirement System Fund and pension plans in Arlington
and Fairfax counties.
Among those involved in the whistleblower group was Harry
Markopolos, best known for giving an early warning to U.S.
securities regulators that Bernard Madoff was running a Ponzi
scheme. The whistleblower was a senior BNY Mellon
foreign-exchange trader named Grant Wilson.
Virginia has paid the whistleblower group $1.1 million for
its role in aiding the state's case.
Cuccinelli looked for $120 million in damages and about
$811.6 million in civil penalties. In the lawsuit, he claimed
BNY Mellon "as custodian bank for the Virginia funds knowingly
and systematically earned hundreds of millions of dollars" by
improperly charging for certain types of currency transactions.
The Virginia claim was dealt a setback in May when a state
judge in Virginia dismissed a lawsuit that alleged the bank
overcharged for currency transactions. At the time, the judge
ruled the Virginia complaint did not in fact meet the threshold
for a state false claims act.
But the judge did leave the door open for Virginia to
refile. Virginia then filed an amended complaint in July.
The settlement was disclosed last month in meeting minutes
for the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.
A spokesman for Cuccinelli did not return request for