ABCP's of stealing $32 Billion. Case study 2 for inquiry

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Postby admin » Sat Apr 12, 2008 9:28 pm

What the ABCP Swindle Means for Working Canadians
by Ken Georgetti

In recent weeks, as US hedge funds and investments bankers have imploded south of the border, working Canadians have been told our economy isn’t “subprimed.”

Sure, the experts say, current problems in global credit markets may mean less cash is available for Canadian companies. It will certainly mean fewer buyers for Canadian exports as US workers face house foreclosures, and higher costs for basic necessities.

But be thankful, the experts reassure, you could be someone else.

You could be one of the two million Americans who recently lost their homes after shady mortgage brokers sold them on crooked contracts.

You could be one of the 14,000 workers at Bear Sterns, some of whom taped $2 to their office windows to symbolize what their employee shares were now worth (down from $68 only days before).

You could be a citizen of several small towns in Norway who, until recently, were unaware that hucksters had exposed them to the subprime market. After her town lost $64 million, one mayor remarked: “because of this, we can’t focus on things that matter, like schools or care for the elderly.”

Dear readers, don’t believe the hype. Working Canadians have suffered enormously from greedy Bay Street bigwigs, but most aren’t aware of it. Their pension funds will take a huge hit after dodgy credit investments (once billed as secure) blew up last Summer. To make matters worse, officials are letting the perpetrators bury the victims in secrecy, while pension funds, average Canadians, and the public purse finance the funeral costs.

Here’s what happened. While many of us enjoyed a deserved break last August, Canada’s economy nearly tanked given a defective investment product called Asset Backed Commercial Paper (ABCP).

Until recently, few experts bothered to ask what ABCP was. But that didn’t stop financial advisors, credit unions, bankers, and bond raters from giving ABCP top marks as a safe and secure investment.

ABCP are short-term debt notes – normally set for terms of 30 or 60 days – that banks and non-bank finance houses created by bundling packages of consumer debt together to sell on the stock market. Think of thousands of individual car loans and credit card debts rolled into super funds. That’s what ABCP represents, and by last Summer, it comprised more than 30% of Canada’s $360 billion short-term debt market.

Until disaster struck, ABCP kingpins were raking it in. Coventree, a non-bank ABCP provider, grew from a small start-up to a firm managing $16 billion in assets. That all flew apart when large institutional investors, like banks and major pension funds, demanded ABCP sellers disclose their exposure to the US subprime mortgages.

ABCP sellers tried to calm large investors by pointing out their minimal exposure to US subprime mortgages. Coventree, for example, insisted that only 4% of their funds had links to these dodgy debts.

That didn’t satisfy the big investors. One by one, they bolted for the exit doors to sell what they once described to pension plan members and investors as a safe, “securitized” product. Banks stood behind their ABCP products, and agreed to make investors whole. Non-bank ABCP sellers like Coventree were a different story. They dug in their heels and refused to yield an inch.

By mid August 2007, the crisis in non-bank ABCP led to a full-blown financial crisis. A small group of bigwigs quickly met in Montreal to establish an industry-brokered deal for non-bank ABCP providers.

On August 16 and 17, the Bank of Canada injected more than $720 million in loans to help finance the arrangement. The ABCP industry (and investments in it) was frozen by federal regulators as the details of the deal were hammered out.

On its own, this closed-door process was scandalous. The so-called Montreal Accord of former ABCP boosters happened without any disclosure to investors. No bond rater, banker, or non-bank ABCP seller has faced charges for selling an asset once stamped as safe and secure.

The Montreal Accord has since won legal approval in the Ontario Superior Court, but with a catch. The Court required that the deal must win 50% support of small and medium sized investors. Every individual ABCP “note holder” is entitled to one vote each.

That’s why finance heavyweight Purdy Crawford has recently travelled to five cities to promote the “Montreal Accord.” Here was Crawford’s pitch: 1) your ABCP assets will remain frozen for five to eight years; 2) you’ll then exchange them for similar investments (after eating an unspecified amount of losses); 3) you must relinquish your right to legal action; and 4) you have no right to know what the big players negotiated for themselves.

Not surprisingly, that line didn’t resonate too well. The Royal Bank estimates the notes have already lost 40% of their value. Crawford was roundly jeered, booed, and told to expect legal action unless the bigwigs make good on 100% of their bad advice.

And rightly so. Purdy Crawford’s friends shouldn’t get court-sanctioned approval to embalm the corpse they are responsible for. They’ve come out of the Bay Street crematorium with the ashes of the corpse, and asked all small-time mourners to agree to a bail out in exchange for essentially no autopsy and no legal liability. Our pension funds and retirement plans shouldn’t cover these dirty deeds.

What’s more, it’s high time we acknowledged a double-standard in our criminal justice system. Our federal government vents often about crime in the streets, but never about crime in the suites. Craig Hannaford and Bill Majher, two former RCMP top investigators, recently told Canadian Business magazine that our white collar crime process “is pretty much non-existent.”

Canadians must turn over a new leaf, and demand stronger laws for corporate accountability. Main Street shouldn’t suffer for the duplicity of Bay Street.

The dodgy debt littered through the world financial system is an ongoing problem that needs closer government regulation. As an earlier generation recognized during the Great Depression, our economy can’t be sabotaged by ruthless speculators and pocket-stuffers. Believe it: a more sane economy is possible.

Meanwhile, we need a public inquiry into this mess. We also need government intervention to recover the ill-gotten gains by the invisible billionaires and they should be charged credit card interest rates for all the time they had our money.

Ken Georgetti is president of the Canadian Labour Congress, the largest labour federation in Canada. They represent 3.2 million working women and men who have pension plan investments estimated at over 300 billion dollars.

fh/cope225 ■ H:\Communications\OpEd\2008\04-08KVG-ABCPDebacleEng.wpd
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Postby admin » Thu Apr 10, 2008 9:33 pm

How do I love thee ABCP?

Let me count the ways.

Just a few of the things I learned whilst sitting in on ABCP hearings in Ottawa today. I cannot list them all since it has been a busy day, but will add from time to time.

1. The liquidity guarantees provided by the banks were basically "fake". (never intended to work, designed with escape hatch)

2. AAA bond ratings for this product were "purchased" from DBRS for the sum of an annual payment to DBRS of $17 million while two of the other three national rating agencies would not rate it high enough to be sold to the public.

3. tainted debt (sub prime mortgages) were carefully and skillfully blended into the product much like a vineyard owner carefully blends his product........or like the chinese did with tainted pet food.

4. When Scotiabank was informed of problems with the product, rather than recall it, they instead chose to dump their own inventory of it, while still allowing it to be sold to the unsuspecting public.

5. Sold without benefit of a prospectus due to the "generous", AAA bond rating bought and paid for from the DBRS.

Why does it seem that there is never a policeman around when you truly need one.............
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Postby admin » Thu Apr 10, 2008 9:12 pm

ABCP investors say they were duped, defrauded by financial community
By: The Canadian Press
at 18:08 on April 10, 2008, EDT.
OTTAWA - The breakdown of the $32-billion asset-backed commercial paper system amounted to criminal fraud on "duped" innocent investors that no-one in Canada appears prepared to investigate or prosecute, a House of Commons committee was told Thursday.

"It's a free ride in Canada for financial crime," said Larry Elford, a former Alberta financial adviser who now heads an investment advocacy group.

"The law simply does not apply to the financial industry."

In the first public hearing on the financial markets crisis that unfolded from the U.S. subprime meltdown last summer, the House finance committee heard a litany of horror stories from investors unwittingly caught up in the secretive, arcane world of high finance.

Speaking in Toronto, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said the commercial paper fiasco was more evidence that Canada's system of independent provincial and territorial regulators, such as the Ontario Securities Commission, does not work.

"We have 13 securities regulators in Canada, which, quite frankly, makes no sense and makes for a great deal of inefficiency," he said. "This another reason why we need to move forward with a national securities regulator in Canada."

But while several financial analysts at the committee hearings also said a national regulator would help, they cautioned that the new oversight body should be mandated to look after only the interests of investors.

"The current financial regulatory system is broken and offers no protection to Canadian investors," said Diane Urquhart, a Toronto-area independent financial analyst.

Elford said current provincial regulators have a conflict of interest and too close ties with the financial industry.

"They not only fail to protect consumers, but they give Canadians a false sense of security," said Elford. "We are sitting ducks. If one finds a law being broken, there is simply no police agency to call that does not have a conflict of interest."

Investors who say they have hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings in jeopardy told the legislators they were "duped" by financial institutions that advertised their investment vehicles as safe, and that they have lost faith in the regulatory bodies.

One Victoria investor, Wynne Miles, 58, who described herself as self-employed and with no pension, had placed her life savings in what she supposed were government treasury bills, only to find out in July they had been transferred into non-bank ABCP without her knowledge.

And retired Alberta farmer Murray Candlish told a similar story about how his $350,000 in savings was invested in a triple-A rated trust he was assured was as secure as the Canadian banking system.

"Now our dreams are slowly disappearing as the value of our investment erodes," Candlish told the committee.

The first-person testimonials held MPs from all four parties in thrall for most of the two hours and surprised some, who said they assumed investors knew what they were getting into.

"It's been like a red light going on for us," said Bloc Quebecois MP Paul Crete.

Crete said the finance committee has made the ABCP matter a priority for future hearings, which will begin after investors vote on a plan to settle issue on April 25.

"We have to have people from banks, regulators, others who can tell us why this crisis is there and what are the solutions to this problem."

Thursday's witnesses, who included investors and investment experts, had no trouble pinpointing the problem.

Even now, they said, the system is protecting itself, citing Tuesday's proposed "relief plan" by Canaccord Capital Inc. (TSX:CCI) to repurchase up to $138 million of the debt held by 1,430 of its individual clients holding less than $1 million in the investment.

Miles points out that investor acceptance comes with strings.

"The requirement that we waive our rights to sue is unacceptable," she said. "I feel as if I am being offered an ultimatum and that makes me very angry. We have been wronged." She said she will reject the offer if she was forced to waive her rights.

Some of the witnesses said that the system is so broken that eight months after the commercial paper was frozen, some Canadians still don't know that part of their investments may be in ABCP.

Liberal finance critic John McCallum, a former chief economist with the Royal Bank, said the allegations need to be investigated, but he was not prepared apportion blame at this time.

"I can't stand here today and say who's to blame, but we have heard disturbing allegations about regulators who may be in the pockets of the regulated," he said. "We need to find out what went wrong in this particular disaster and what we can do to make sure that future crises are less likely to happen."
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Postby admin » Fri Mar 28, 2008 11:57 pm

March 29, 2008
Treasury’s Plan Would Give Fed Wide New Power

WASHINGTON — The Treasury Department will propose on Monday that Congress give the Federal Reserve broad new authority to oversee financial market stability, in effect allowing it to send SWAT teams into any corner of the industry or any institution that might pose a risk to the overall system.

The proposal is part of a sweeping blueprint to overhaul the nation’s hodgepodge of financial regulatory agencies, which many experts say failed to recognize rampant excesses in mortgage lending until after they set off what is now the worst financial calamity in decades.

Democratic lawmakers are all but certain to say the proposal does not go far enough in restricting the kinds of practices that caused the financial crisis. Many of the proposals, like those that would consolidate regulatory agencies, have nothing to do with the turmoil in financial markets. And some of the proposals could actually reduce regulation.

According to a summary provided by the administration, the plan would consolidate an alphabet soup of banking and securities regulators into a powerful trio of overseers responsible for everything from banks and brokerage firms to hedge funds and private equity firms.

Text: Treasury’s Summary of Regulatory Proposal (March 29, 2008)

While the plan could expose Wall Street investment banks and hedge funds to greater scrutiny, it carefully avoids a call for tighter regulation.

The plan would not rein in practices that have been linked to the housing and mortgage crisis, like packaging risky subprime mortgages into securities carrying the highest ratings.

The plan would give the Fed some authority over Wall Street firms, but only when an investment bank’s practices threatened the entire financial system.

And the plan does not recommend tighter rules over the vast and largely unregulated markets for risk sharing and hedging, like credit default swaps, which are supposed to insure lenders against loss but became a speculative instrument themselves and gave many institutions a false sense of security.

Parts of the plan could reduce the power of the Securities and Exchange Commission, which is charged with maintaining orderly stock and bond markets and protecting investors. The plan would merge the S.E.C. with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which regulates exchange-traded futures for oil, grains, currencies and the like.

The blueprint also suggests several areas where the S.E.C. should take a lighter approach to its oversight. Among them are allowing stock exchanges greater leeway to regulate themselves and streamlining the approval of new products, even allowing automatic approval of securities products that are being traded in foreign markets.

The proposal began last year as an effort by Henry M. Paulson Jr., secretary of the Treasury, to make American financial markets more competitive against overseas markets by modernizing a creaky regulatory system.

Doug Mills/The New York Times
Henry M. Paulson Jr.

His goal was to streamline the different and sometimes clashing rules for commercial banks, savings and loans and nonbank mortgage lenders.

“I am not suggesting that more regulation is the answer, or even that more effective regulation can prevent the periods of financial market stress that seem to occur every 5 to 10 years,” Mr. Paulson will say in a speech on Monday, according to a draft. “I am suggesting that we should and can have a structure that is designed for the world we live in, one that is more flexible.”

Congress would have to approve almost every element of the proposal, and Democratic leaders are already drafting their own bills to impose tougher supervision over Wall Street investment banks, hedge funds and the fast-growing market in derivatives like credit default swaps.

But Mr. Paulson’s proposal for the Fed echoes ideas championed by Representative Barney Frank, the Massachusetts Democrat who is chairman of the House Financial Services Committee.

Both see the Fed overseeing risk across the entire financial spectrum, but Mr. Frank is likely to favor a stronger Fed role and to subject investment banks to the same rules that commercial banks now must follow, especially for capital reserves.

The Treasury plan would let Fed officials examine the practices and even the internal bookkeeping of brokerage firms, hedge funds, commodity-trading exchanges and any other institution that might pose a risk to the overall financial system.

That would be a significant expansion of the central bank’s regulatory mission.

When Fed officials agreed this month to rescue Bear Stearns, once the nation’s fifth-largest investment bank, they pointedly noted that the Fed never had the authority to monitor its financial condition or order it to bolster its protections against a collapse.

In two unprecedented moves, the Fed engineered a marriage between JPMorgan Chase and Bear Stearns, lending $29 billion to JPMorgan to prevent a Bear bankruptcy and a chain of defaults that might have felled much of the financial system.

For the first time since the 1930s, the Fed also agreed to let investment banks borrow hundreds of billions of dollars from its discount window, an emergency lending program reserved for commercial banks and other depository institutions.

But Mr. Paulson’s proposal would fall well short of the kind of regulation that Democrats have been proposing. Mr. Frank and other senior Democrats have argued that investment banks and other lightly regulated institutions now compete with commercial banks and should be subject to similar regulation, including examiners who regularly pore over their books and quietly demand changes in their practices.

In a recent interview, Mr. Frank said he realized the need for tighter regulation of Wall Street firms after a meeting with Charles O. Prince III, then chairman of Citigroup.

When Mr. Frank asked why Citigroup had kept billions of dollars in “structured investment vehicles” off the firm’s balance sheet, he recalled, Mr. Prince responded that Citigroup, as a bank holding company, would have been at a disadvantage because investment firms can operate with higher debt and lower capital reserves.

Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, has taken a similar stance.

“Commercial banks continue to be supervised closely, and are subject to a host of rules meant to limit systemic risk,” Mr. Schumer wrote in an op-ed article on Friday in The Wall Street Journal. “But many other financial institutions, including investment banks and hedge funds, are regulated lightly, if at all, even though they act in many ways like banks.”

Mr. Paulson’s proposal is likely to provoke bruising turf battles in Congress among agencies and rival industry groups that benefit from the current regulations.

Administration officials acknowledged on Friday that they did not expect the proposal to become law this year, but said they hoped it would help frame a policy debate that would extend well after the elections in November.

In a nod to the debacle in mortgage lending, the administration proposed a Mortgage Origination Commission to evaluate the effectiveness of state governments in regulating mortgage brokers and protecting consumers.

The bulk of the proposal, however, was developed before soaring mortgage defaults set off a much broader credit crisis, and most of the proposals are geared to streamlining regulation.

This plan would consolidate a large number of regulators into roughly three big new agencies.

Bank supervision, now divided among five federal agencies, would be led by a Prudential Financial Regulator, which could send examiners into any bank or depository institution that is protected by either federal deposit insurance or other federal backstops. It would eliminate the distinction between “banks” and “thrift institutions,” which are already indistinguishable to most consumers, and shut down the Office of Thrift Supervision.

Any effort to merge the Commodity Futures Trading Commission with the S.E.C. is likely to provoke battles.

Yet another proposal would, for the first time, create a national regulator for insurance companies, an industry that state governments now oversee.

Administration officials argue that a national system would eliminate the inefficiencies of having 50 different state regulators, who have jealously guarded their powers and are likely to fight any federal encroachment.

Arthur Levitt, a former S.E.C. chairman who has long pushed for stronger investor protection, said his first impression of the plan was positive. Even though the S.E.C.’s powers might be reduced, Mr. Levitt said, the plan would create a broader agency to regulate business conduct in all financial services.

“It’s a thoughtful document,” he said. “I’m intrigued by the fact that it puts an emphasis on investor protection, and that it establishes an agency specifically for that purpose, which would operate across all markets. I think that’s a very constructive first step.”
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Postby admin » Fri Mar 28, 2008 6:49 pm

Listen to March 28, 2008 940 AM Montreal Radio interview of retired logger Gary Carter of Duncan, Vancouver Island and paralegal professional Jill O'Hara of Victoria,Vancouver Island. In this interview, Jim Duff of 940 AM Montreal calls Non Bank ABCP the greatest scam ever perpetrated on the small investor in this country.

(advocate comments...........lets see if I missed anything........the "smartest guys in the room" (which from here forward should be read as "the most pathalogically morally deficient persons in the country") put together some of the lowest quality crap debt the world has seen since Michael Milken...........and they shrewdly package this up and sell it to institutions and to the public. To sell it, they need to be exempt from prospectus, and to do that they need a strong rating......and to do that they need to give it a guarantee that they will back it up in the case of a market disruption....................all pretty much smoke and mirrors done by those smartest richest, most pathalogically deficient folks who climb he money ladder.

Then when this tainted product goes bad............all the guarantees fail in the fine print, those who put them in place refuse to back them.............they leave investors high and dry, they owe no duty to offer even a modicum of quality when it comes to are on your own...........and to add insult to injury, they ask for full immunity from prosecution for any part they might play in
now helping to "restructure".

It quite likely is one of the largest scams ever perperated on the Canadian public. I can only hope it will bring to light the deficiencies that have always been tolerated in our system. Many others have come before this current crisis and many others have been hurt on other investments.
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How to purchase immunity from prosecution, with customer's $

Postby admin » Fri Mar 28, 2008 7:57 am

Crawford warns of investor losses

Hints At Sweetener

Duncan Mavin, Jim Middlemiss And John Greenwood, Financial Post

Friday, March 28, 2008

As Purdy Crawford gets set to meet face-to-face with retail investors in Canada's asset-backed commercial paper market, he warned they will get little back on their investments unless a proposed restructuring goes through as planned, while also hinting there may be a sweetener for the out-of-pocket investors.

If the plan fails to get the go-ahead, retail investors "get damn little," Mr. Crawford said yesterday. "That's not a threat. It's a reality."

Mr. Crawford is head of a committee that has tabled a restructuring plan for the $32-billion of frozen paper. The success of that plan now rests with hundreds of small investors who have the chance to vote on it at the end of April.

While the plan has the backing of holders of most of the paper by dollar value, many of the smaller investors are thought to be against the plan that will see them take a big haircut on their initial investments.

They will also lose the right to sue the people who sold them the notes in the first place.

Significantly, the retail investors will have the final say in a vote that requires approval by more than 50% of the voting noteholders, which gives the little guys a lot of influence.

"Because of the vote, the retail investors have the possibility of getting more on the table than what this rather good restructuring gets them," Mr. Crawford said in an interview.

He begins a cross-Canada roadshow in Toronto on Monday, when he will meet with small investors in a bid to get a yes vote.

Mr. Crawford expressed sympathy for retail investors and said he was unaware until recently how many ordinary Canadians had bought the tainted paper.

His team, which includes bankers and lawyers, also hinted yesterday that there could be a sweetener in the deal to make sure the vote goes through.

He would not give clear details of what this could mean, although the Crawford team said liquidity was a key issue for small investors, and also said a third party could be involved in the next twist to the saga.

"Keep your eyes and ears open," Mr. Crawford said. "All kinds of things" could be considered to help retail investors out, he added.

A top-up to make small investors whole seems unlikely, though one option could be for companies that sold the paper to make up some of the difference between the par value and the market value of the restructured notes, sources said.

A source close to the restructuring said the Street is expecting some kind of "wrinkle to be put in the plan for small investors." There are a number of scenarios being bandied about. "Purdy doesn't want to tip his hand."

The proposed restructuring, which has put the notes into Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act protection, could be amended to accommodate a change to the terms in favour of retail investors, legal sources said.

"I'm rather confident small investors will be able to take advantage of their bargaining power," Mr. Crawford said.
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Postby admin » Sat Mar 22, 2008 11:07 pm

fascinating factoids about the ABCP crisis:

1. Asset-backed commercial paper whose current market value is uncertain because of a lack of willing buyers was recently held by at least 60 investment funds tracked by Morningstar Canada, including 23 funds in the Canadian Money Market category and one in the American Money Market category.

2. But most money fund sponsors are unscathed, including the Big Five banks.
How did they (the big guys) know in advance that this stuff was junk???

3. And they would like "immunity from prosecution" as part of their deal.
That is a strange thing for an innocent party to request up front.

this plot just gets thicker and thicker.........or as the post on corporate greed and the pathology suggests, "sicker and sicker".
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Postby admin » Fri Mar 21, 2008 8:18 am

Investors face a Catch-22
Owners with frozen savings can lose money -- or spend money

Vancouver Sun

Thursday, March 20, 2008

CREDIT: Steve Bosch/Vancouver Sun
Yulan Wong of Vancouver is a Canaccord investor who has had her savings frozen.

VANCOUVER - Investors in British Columbia who put their money - and faith - in a Vancouver brokerage house, are now caught up in a financial nightmare.

Canaccord Capital Inc. put about 1,400 clients, many of them from B.C., in ill-fated asset-backed commercial paper. Those investors, and their almost $270 million worth of savings, have been stuck in a legal limbo since the paper was frozen last August after investors shunned the short-term debt because of concerns of possible links to U.S. sub-prime mortgages.

And now with a proposal to resolve the ABCP freeze expected to be sent to note-holders next month, the investors are faced with a Catch-22.

Under the plan, reached March 17, the short-term paper would be converted into new notes maturing as late as 2017. Once trading resumes, the new notes will likely trade at 60 cents to 80 cents on the dollar, according to analysts. For that discount, investors may have to give up the right to sue the banks, rating agencies and investment dealers who got them into the mess in the first place.

Or they could hold what were supposed to be short-term investments for eight years and hope to regain the full amount of their investment at that time.

The alternative is to vote against the plan, see the value of the notes drop even further, yet retain the right to spend thousands of dollars in legal fees, and years in court, to try to get their money back.

It's a lose-lose situation for investors who thought they were in risk-free, conservative investments.

Angela Speller, 61, is a homemaker who lives with her retired husband in Victoria. Before they bought the ABCPs, the majority of their investments were guaranteed investment certificates and Canada Savings Bonds. The money was the couple's life savings, and so the investments needed to be guaranteed, Speller said. They also needed to be liquid, so that money could be easily withdrawn to supplement the couple's pension income and to help their two children finish their education.

"My broker knew that these were savings and that I would not purchase anything unless it was triple A, a sure investment," Spelling said.

But about a year before the ABCP freeze, her broker at Canaccord recommended the new notes, which he assured Speller were no different than GICs, except they provided a slightly better interest rate. And Speller believes the broker thought that was true. But that means little now that her and her husband's life savings are virtually frozen, and may eventually be lost.

Speller would not give the amount at risk, but said it took 41 years to accumulate.

"It was our life savings, it was a fair amount," Speller said.

Yulan Wong is a 60-year-old retired realtor in Vancouver who had cashed out her securities in anticipation of her retirement. She also invested money on behalf of her niece. Together, the two have about $300,000 frozen in their Canaccord accounts.

And like Speller, Wong wanted risk-free investments, that were easily accessible.
With her experience in the real estate market, and knowing assets like houses can go up and down, Wong said she would never have knowingly invested in ABCPs.

"I don't like risky stuff," Wong said.

Now she may have to sell her house just to get some cash. And her plan to go to Australia to look after her mother is on hold.

"I don't have an income but a few hundred dollars," she said. "That's why I'm in a very bad situation."

Wynne Miles, 55, has been lobbying to get a Parliamentary committee to determine what went wrong. But the wording of the current proposal before the House of Commons is forward-looking - how to prevent a recurrence - rather than how to help those currently affected.

The Victoria woman and her husband are both self-employed so their savings are their sole means of support when they retire. That's why they kept the bulk of their investments, which are with Canaccord, in government bonds and GICs until last July.

Miles hasn't made up her mind yet whether she will vote for or against the proposal, but she knows lots of people who are opposed. After all, the plan was developed by the pension funds, lenders and other institutional investors, and is not suitable for retail investors, she said.

"We don't think the solution they're proposing is appropriate because we don't have deep pockets," Miles said. "We can't wait five or eight years to get our money back. We need our savings back now with interest."

Nor does she like having to give up her right to sue.

"I don't like it when someone takes my money and won't give it back and then offers me an ultimatum," she said.

Miles complains that to date she hasn't had a say in how to solve the mess. But now Miles and the other retail investors have the power to nix the proposal because under the plan, and the related bankruptcy proceedings, 50 per cent of noteholders must vote in favour. So while the retail investors hold only a small portion of the total amount in jeopardy, they outnumber the approximately 100 institutional investors at least 15 to one.

If those institutional investors want to assure Miles doesn't vote against the plan, they'll have to buy the ABCPs she holds with interest.

"Then I would no longer be a noteholder and I would no longer have a vote," she said.

"So if they buy out the retail holders the larger institutions would be assured of a majority on the vote," Miles said. "So buy us out," she urged.

Calgary-based Canaccord customer Brian Hunter has set up a Facebook site for individuals holding ABCPs. He too urges the institutional investors to buy out the little guys.

Why would investors with $12 billion at stake risk having small investors vote against it, he asked.

And that's his dream, that he gets bought out and gets his money back.
"Faced with no other alternative I would vote against it and take my chances at suing," Hunter said.

But Canaccord says it can't afford to do that.

"We don't have the ability or the capital base to buy out [the paper] directly from our clients," Canaccord's chief operating officer Mark Maybank said in a telephone interview with Bloomberg.

"I have huge amount of empathy for them in what's been a structural collapse of part of the Canadian capital markets,'' he added. "We're doing everything we can to help."

Maybank said Canaccord was working on a "relief program" for its clients. "I'm optimistic that we're going to be able to post a successful restructuring, identify market participants, potential buyers that we can work with to address the needs of our clients,'' he said.

Last week, Canaccord also hired an ABCP expert to advise its clients on the proposal.

But Canaccord's position contrasts with that of the National Bank of Canada, the country's sixth-biggest bank, which agreed last year to buy back about $2 billion of the commercial paper held by its consumer clients. Vancity and other financial institutions have also taken that step.

Credential Securities Inc., which offers its services to credit unions, also has an unknown number of retail clients holding ABCPs. Jane Mitchell, a spokeswoman for Credential in Vancouver, did not return a call from Bloomberg seeking comment.

Exact details of the restructuring plan have yet to be finalized, but investors are expected to be asked to vote on the proposal next month.
With files from Bloomberg

© Vancouver Sun
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financial elder abuse in Canada,

Postby admin » Fri Mar 21, 2008 8:17 am

I try not to open too many new topics on this forum. As you can see there is already too large a variety to focus on, however as I read this latest article from the Vancouver Sun, this theme jumped out at me. I think professional, predatory practices which prey on the finances of the elderly pretty much sums up all the other topics on this forum, as well as explains some of my own problems of dealing with life. How can I work in a profession which allows, and too often encourages this predatory behavior on our seniors? The answer is that I cannot.

It (financial elder abuse) is something I have always been aware of, having worked inside the industry. Brokers have long known where the real investable dollars reside in Canada since that is where they make their living. Those over age 65 in Canada hold more than 75% of the wealth in this country according to stats Canada.

It is well known to those inside, that a senior, possibly a widow, without immediate family to guide him or her, is an easier person to gain the trust of, a more vulnerable person, and often, due to the generation they grew up in, a more trusting person. When you combine that with a game of risk (any game) such as investing, it can be decades or never before a person or thier sons and daughters find out that mom or dad was dealing with a predator, and not a pro.

The pros in my industry know this, and they are keenly aware of their responsibility and their obligation to respect and honor the trust of their clients. They may drink, argue, swear, spit and be human in all other ways, but a true financial professional has one common denominator, and that is that they place a great deal of value on the faith and trust that their customers grant to them. Not everyone does, however, and too often, I have witnessed the marching orders (or the defective investments) come down from the top. Sometimes investment people are forced to sell junk that they may not even know is junk, by managers and owners of these firms who know full well that they are peddling smoke and mirrors. I now speak to top research analysts who tell me stories of being forced (by top bank officials who are now top officials employed by our securities commissions) by bosses to give an investment report telling retail clients one story on an investment (that is is great stuff), while simultaneously instructing those in the firm who deal with valued institutions the exact opposite.

Imagine having a planned procedure, to dump the worst investment product you have ever run across, on your trusting and vulnerable retail clients, while protecting your valuable institutions. Been there, seen that. More than once. More than twice. More than I care to.

Remember, there is risk in this game, and losses can always be blamed on a myriad of "other" factors.

When you combine this kind of thinking (pathalogical greed) with an industry that polices itself, and where real criminal violations do not get the attention of real police (we regulate ourselves thanks) it puts Canada on a very unique and very slippery slope whereby the elderly in this country become very lucrative targets for nasty folks with an addiction to money.

Witness the ABCP crisis, where everyday clients have been badly sucked into the infinite vaccume of those with this money addiction. The ABCP crisis is just the latest, possibly the greatest, example of financial elder abuse. Of abuse which requires criminal acts of misrepresentation to which other police (or competition law officers) will not respond.

I may have touched on the topic of financial elder abuse "by trusted professionals" elsewhere and if I did, I will find the post and combine. I just had to write this down, now that the full effects of this classic case of elder abuse is unfolding.

To witness those "banksters" and brokers who peddled this product ask for creditor protection for this product, but first request immunity from prosecution perhaps proves my point, and for that I thank them. For once, they have shown the color of their ethics. I presume the color is red with embarassment, some guilt, some shame. For they have all but admitted to criminal violations of their duty to the customers they serve.

They have effectively helped me to prove my worst fears, that financial elder abuse is partially involved in Canada's largest financial scandal to date.
Last edited by admin on Fri Mar 21, 2008 8:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby admin » Wed Mar 19, 2008 5:50 pm

and now the "fix is in" as they say at the fights...................

Options dwindle for burned investors
March 19, 2008 | Mark Noble

Investor advocates say a restructuring plan approval vote is looking to be the only chance left for 1,600 retail investors to try to recover the money they invested in non-bank-sponsored asset-backed commercial paper.

Brian Hunter, a Calgary-based engineer, has $658,000 of his retirement savings frozen in ABCP in an account with Canaccord Capital. Hunter says he's one of about 1,400 retail clients with Canaccord Capital who was advised to purchase ABCP as an alternative to GICs and other guaranteed fixed income investments.

Hunter is one of the leaders of a growing group of ABCP investors seeking to get their money back from Canaccord. Monday's announcement by the Pan-Canadian Investors Committee for Third-Party Structured ABCP that protection had been granted under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) makes legal action against the firm virtually impossible.

If approved, the proposed restructuring deal would make all of the ABCP providers and sponsors immune from being sued by note holders. Hunter says the approval of the CCAA protection makes it impossible to go after them in the meantime. So unless retail note holders, each of whom gets a vote, turn down the approval agreement, they will lose all legal rights to go after their money.

"I had lined up a class-action lawsuit — you have to keep your options open, and that was absolutely the last resort. I had a lawyer who agreed to do that, but when I spoke to him this morning, he said he was backing off because he can't see his way through CCAA and what they have done there," Hunter says. "It's not just the trusts [we can't sue but] anybody, including all the banks that sponsored this — which is every one of them — including DBRS, including Canaccord, including Desjardins. They have taken the legal rights of everybody away."

If there are lawyers who can navigate CCAA, Hunter says, chances are they are already employed by the other side.

"I'm trying to find anybody who can represent me in court in Ontario, and that's not easy because anybody who knows anything about CCAA is already working with the vendors," he says.

Diane Urquhart, an independent financial analyst and vocal investor advocate, says by eliminating the legal recourse of investors, the proposed ABCP restructuring deal essentially protects corruption in Canada's financial system.

"It was sold without a prospectus, and I would say after having gone through the scene of the accident that non-ABCP was sold unlawfully into the whole market," Urquhart says.

To be sure, ABCP was an extremely complex financial product, which is why Urquhart says advisors who recommended the ABCP at Canaccord can't fully be blamed for recommending the investment vehicle, since it had high credit ratings from Dominion Bond Rating Service.

She says there is evidence to suggest ABCP should never have received investment-grade ratings in the first place because it had a flawed liquidity agreement backing it.

She points to a Standard & Poor's report from 2002 that outlines that the liquidity agreement underpinning commercial paper in Canada was insufficient. In the report, S&P says that liquidity agreements exist in Canada but that investing requires a "leap of faith" that liquidity will still be there if a crisis arises. As a result, S&P says it would not be possible to consider Canadian commercial paper investment grade.

"S&P indicated they had assessed the guidelines from the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions and they had seen the content of the liquidity agreement behind the ABCP, and on that basis, they had determined that it was grossly deficient," Urquhart says. "There was not sufficient protection to give this an investment grade.

"Because this was short-term paper funding long-term assets, a liquidity crisis was inevitable, and OSFI would someday be sorry that they instructed the banks to offer such a liquidity agreement."

Urquhart says the banks that sponsored and distributed ABCP conduits are sophisticated enough to have realized this risk.

"I go back to the vendor, the financial institution that had a credit derivative research team, which likely had PhDs. To me it doesn't take a PhD to know that you have a flawed liquidity agreement," she says.

The 1,600 ABCP note holders do have the balance of power in the ABCP approval process, since they represent more than the majority of votes needed to pass, but the committee overseeing the restructuring has warned investors that if the deal falls through, investors risk losing everything. Instead, the committee has urged investors to hold on to the notes until maturity, at which time they might be able to recover most of their face value.

Urquhart estimates the majority of investors might get 60 cents on the dollar of their initial investment if they hold the notes for seven years. She doubts few, if any, will get all their money back.

"Using the estimated seven-year term of the proposed long-term notes and knowing how much credit spreads have gone up for AAA investment-grade credits, I would guess that the new notes will stabilize at 50 cents to 60 cents on the dollar, but all this depends on whether the material contracts within the trusts are released for independent examination to experts interested in buying or if indeed there are any buyers amongst the world's heavily damaged banks, hedge funds and other institutional investors," she says.

This solution doesn't help the contingent of retirees who invested in ABCP as a short-term income-generating vehicle — many of these investors need the money now.

Urquhart believes this could be solved if retail investors were remunerated by the banks that sponsored the ABCP, which she says is very costly, but they can afford to do it.

"These were being sold to these customers on the basis of being GIC and treasury bill substitutes with high credit ratings," she says. "The investment banks and their bank parents have had the means from the beginning and even now in light of the current damages to take this all — including pension funds and government funds — onto their own balance sheets. [They should do this] because they sold a flawed product."

Filed by Mark Noble,,

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immunity from prosecution??

Postby admin » Wed Mar 19, 2008 8:16 am

However, it was also disclosed that in connection with the restructuring, the banks, investment dealers and rating agencies such as DBRS that created the ABCP will be granted immunity from prosecution as a reward for supporting the restructuring.

(advocate comments........."immunity from prosecution" pretty much sums up the level of guilt among those who created, rated and sold these products upon an unsuspecting market. If they are granted such immunity it will confirm that the lunatics are indeed in charge of the asylum of Canadian financial markets)

Full article below:

Retail investors' vote key to ABCP restructuring
John Greenwood, Financial Post

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Retail investors now hold the key to the unfreezing of $32-billion of seized-up asset backed commercial paper following on details released earlier this week concerning what amounts to the largest bankruptcy protection filing in Canadian history.

Among other things, it was disclosed that the key to the success of the restructuring lies with retail investors rather than big institutions because the plan must win support from more than 50% of note holders. Although players such as the Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec hold the lion's share of the affected paper by value, retail investors are far more numerous.

Ever since the rescue known as the Montreal proposal took shape last August, small investors have complained that their interests were being pushed aside in favour of the institutional players. Now, according to Purdy Crawford, the head of an investors committee overseeing the restructuring, their voices will be heard.

However, it was also disclosed that in connection with the restructuring, the banks, investment dealers and rating agencies such as DBRS that created the ABCP will be granted immunity from prosecution as a reward for supporting the restructuring.

"Key participants who are making a substantial and necessary contribution require the releases," Mr. Crawford said in an affidavit. "Simply put, there can be no [restructuring] unless these releases are included, and I believe the benefits of the plan, taken as a whole, justify the releases."

Most of the frozen ABCP is held by organizations such as the Caisse de depot, National Bank Financial and various government bodies. However, investors also include more than 1,600 individuals, many of whom were sold the notes by investment dealers and banks even though they may not have been part of the sophisticated investor category permitted under regulatory requirements to own the securities.

"I went ballistic when I saw the part about the legal release," said a small investor based in Toronto. "I couldn't believe they would let these guys off the hook."

"It's an extreme abuse of investors who were sold a savings product that was flawed," said Diane Urquhart, an independent analyst.

The noteholder vote is slated for the end of April, and observers say that given the ongoing turmoil in the credit markets and the level of investor sentiment, the result may be too close to call, at least for now.

As part of the restructuring, investors will receive longer term notes. Originally, the new notes were to have ratings from at least two rating agencies, but according to Mr. Crawford, they will have just one rating, from DBRS. Given that the bulk of the underlying assets will be highly complex credit default swaps that have fallen out of favour with investors, many observers expect they will trade well below face value.

The decision of whether to support the restructuring is "a bit of a high-stakes poker game," said Colin Kilgour, an industry consultant. "Either investors [support the plan and] take the new notes or they keep the bankrupt ABCP and pursue their legal options."

(advocate crime does indeed pay in Canada)
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Postby admin » Tue Mar 18, 2008 8:26 am

More individuals owning Non Bank ABCP are willing to speak on the record about how their brokers sold these flawed savings products to them and how their lives have become emotionally and financially distressed by Purdy Crawford's ultimatum: take the long term restructured notes and sign the blanket legal releases committing them not to sue the banks, the brokers and DBRS; or, be left on your own.

This is rock bottom low for the Canadian banks' conduct preying on the victims that they themselves financially assaulted. The banks created the shocking damages on individuals' life savings by manufacturing or distributing this flawed savings product into the unsophisticated retail market, when these banks had the expertise and duty of care to know the following:

(1) DBRS's credit rating was inflated and DBRS was paid a % of the Non Bank ABCP outstanding by the Non Bank ABCP trust sponsors;

(2) the Non Bank ABCP trusts were sold unlawfully without a prospectus upon Standard and Poors giving de facto ratings of below investment grade in its 2002 Report, "The Leap of Faith"; below investment grade does not meet the provincial securities act minimum standard for an approved credit rating from an approved credit rating agency;

(3) the liquidity agreements, or so-called bank guarantees, were of "limted use" causing the paper to be below investment grade according to Standard and Poors in The "Leap of Faith Report" in 2002, and the banks obviously knew this;

(4) the leveraged credit default swap contracts within the trusts imposed massive liabilities and the prospects for significantly impaired ABCP marked-to-market values; the Canadian bank distributors knew the international banks had the right to call margin and force default of the trusts, if the margin funding was not forthcoming. The Canadian bank distributors knew these international banks within the same trusts were the signatories to the "limited use" liquidity agreements. The Non Bank ABCP manufacturers and distributors knew the international banks could walk from their bank guarantees and have done so, even though they have not been able to do so in other countries of the world;

(5) the retail brokerage distributors, and the wholesale brokerage distributors who knew their Non Bank ABCP was specifically destined for redistribution by their retail sub-agent to unsophisticated individual customers, did not exercise their duty of care to sell suitable investments into the retail market;

(6) the retail brokerage distributors, and the wholesale brokerage distributors who knew their Non Bank ABCP was specifically destined for redistribution by their retail sub-agent to unsophisticated individual customers, are alleged to have received concrete material adverse information affecting the solvency and depleted net asset value of the trusts from the trusts' sponsors in the days and hours prior to their sale to the unsophisticated individual savings product customers; and, there was no public media release, nor any specific warning about the material adverse information to the unsophisticated individual savings product customers (and perhaps their brokers were also uninformed by the investment banks' senior executives who knew the product had become tainted.)

I hope that your media organization is able to interview these people and provide an indepth story about how the Non Bank ABCP is affecting them personally.

Court protection sets stage for new debt fight



MARCH 17, 2008 AT 9:32 PM EDT

"Mr. Crawford sought to head off what he knows will be one sore spot for some investors. These are blanket legal releases, which will be given to nearly all participants in Canada's third-party asset-backed commercial paper sector if the committee's current plan is approved. The releases would be extended to banks, credit rating agency DBRS Ltd. and brokers, in addition to the companies that created the paper, making it more difficult for investors in the sector to successfully sue them.

Some investors believe they have rights to sue parties on account of their losses, and that the releases would take those rights away, Mr. Crawford said in an affidavit filed in court yesterday. Some have told me they support the financial aspects of the plan, but do not wish to release the parties they believe should be held responsible to them for their losses.

I understand these views. However, negotiation of the plan has been the art of the possible, he said, explaining that some key players in the restructuring said they wouldn't participate without the releases."

"The committee expects some of the new longer-term notes that will be created by the restructuring will receive investment-grade ratings by DBRS. It attempted to obtain ratings from a second rating agency, but could not do so, Mr. Crawford said in his affidavit."

"It also said that the combined fees, costs and expenses for the plan  including those for lawyers and advisors  are expected to be about $80-million to $100-million."

List of Individual Non Bank ABCP Victims Willing to Speak on the Record to Media:

Ron Lawley (72 year old retired)
Tel: 250-756-9819

Ken Markel

(Husband of individual victim Helen Ashlyn Huynh)


Tel: 604-304-9873

Cell: 480-747-2120


Gary Webber (Pastor)
Tel: 403-278-7481
Cell: 403-804-9998
Church: 403-250-5547

Murray Candlish (Hog farmer)
Daysland, Alberta
Tel: 780-374-2243

Brian Iler (Lawyer)

Iler Campbell LLP, Barristers & Solicitors

Suite 700, 890 Yonge Street

Toronto M4W 3P4

Work: (416) 598-0103 x114

Cell: (416) 835-4384

Fax: (416)598-3484

Penny Caceres (72 year old retired)


Layne Arthur (Money from sale of second generation farm)
Sylvan Lake, Alberta
Tel: 403-660-4888

Larry Caskey (retired businessman)
Tel: 780-487-1766

Nick Kovics (Chemical engineer and MBA student)
North Vancouver
Tel: 604-415-7225
Cell: 778-881-5474

Ryan Laudien
5647 Westport Road
West Vancouver, BC, V7W 1V2
Residence phone: 604 926 8905
Cellular phone: 604 607 5910

Mike and Wynne Miles (Self-employed)
Tel: 250-595-0653
Cell: 250-213-7465

Ted McFeely (Energy businessman)
Tel: 403-242-00273
Cell: 403-809-1761

Jill O'Hara (Legal firm employee)
Tel: 250-294-5259

Yulan Wong (Retired real estate agent with estate for nieces tied up)
Tel: 604-872-0011

Brian Hunter (Engineer)
Tel: 403-650-4960

Angela Spelling (Homemaker)
Tel: 250-382-3908

Reid Moseley (Retired teacher and small business owner)
Tel: 403-399-2521
Bus Tel: 403-262-2397

For additional information contact:

Diane Urquhart
Independent Analyst
Mississauga, Ontario
Telephone: (905) 822-7618
Cell: (416) 505-4832
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Postby admin » Mon Mar 17, 2008 10:49 pm

visit youtube for various interesting video comments on ABCP
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Postby admin » Sat Mar 15, 2008 5:39 pm


Abused ABCP investor speaks out at Bank of Nova Scotia Annual General Meeting Audio statement is at the following webpage starting at time 1:44:15 ... ,20,2,lo,2 Reid Moseley is one of approximately 1400 individuals, who is suffering from financial assault due to Non Bank Asset Backed Commercial Paper. Most are lients of Canaccord Capital and the Central Credit Unions, but these firms were retail sub-agents for Scotia Capital who sold them this flawed savings product. Many own Structured Investment Trust III, where the Bank of Nova Scotia is the issuing and paying agent. Most retail investors were shocked when their hard-earned savings was not there to buy houses, to buy businesses, to settle estates for the care of loved ones, and to pay for living expenses. They parked their cash for just 60 days, and now this life-altering fiasco is destroying lives. Financial assault lives.[ courtesy of Hugh Urquhart ]
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Postby admin » Sat Mar 15, 2008 5:10 pm

MP rallying support for asset-backed loans probe

Liberal wants voice for consumers hurt by crisis

Mar 15, 2008 04:30 AM
Rita Trichur
Business Reporter

Liberal finance critic John McCallum is urging other members of the House of Commons finance committee to heed the request of a B.C. couple and hold hearings on why non-bank asset-backed commercial paper was sold to Canadians.

Key opposition members confirmed yesterday they would support his request and urge their peers to do the same when meetings resume in two weeks.

McCallum's notice of motion asks the committee to "hold at least 12 hours of hearings" on the asset-backed-credit crisis, including testimony from "severely affected Canadians, representatives from the real estate sector and others."

The hearings should determine "whether federal regulators and other stakeholders could have done a better job in anticipating the crisis and/or reducing its costs; and what action the federal government, federal regulators and other stakeholders are taking so as to reduce the likelihood of experiencing a similar crisis in the future," McCallum wrote.

Committee members are expected to vote on the proposal at their next sitting on March 31.

McCallum's motion follows a letter from Mike and Wynne Miles of Victoria this week, beseeching members to hold hearings.

"It gives us some hope," Wynne Miles said in an interview. "We very much want to have an opportunity to explain to people, especially government officials, how this freeze of our retirement savings has affected our life."

She said hearings could give the government "some feeling of the emotional and financial stress this puts on us."

The Mileses claim to be among 1,400 ordinary investors with savings entangled in the frozen notes.

Wynne Miles also expressed concern the committee in charge of the Montreal Accord does not represent the interests of ordinary investors. The committee, led by Bay Street lawyer Purdy Crawford, is attempting to convert short-term debt into longer-term notes. Miles said ordinary folks can't wait seven to 10 years for their money. Crawford has previously said those who reject the deal would be "on their own."

MPs, however, are increasingly concerned about the plight of ordinary investors, Conservative Ted Menzies said. "I think we should have a serious look at this."

Those sentiments were echoed by the NDP's Thomas Mulcair. "These people, a lot of them are losing everything. And so we're going to try to get to the bottom of it," he said. "A lot of the individuals, they didn't even know their (money) was being put into these vehicles."

Meanwhile, the Crawford committee plans to file an application in Ontario Superior Court under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act on Monday. It wants the court to call a meeting of note-holders to vote on its plan to restructure 20 of the affected trusts, involving some $32 billion of notes.

"Given the progress we have made in resolving the outstanding issues, and the good relations with all stakeholders, we ... are confident we will be able to submit a plan for a comprehensive and simultaneous restructuring of all affected ABCP that will be of benefit to all noteholders," Crawford said yesterday.
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