A former Bank of America Corp. municipal bond marketer testified that he conspired with four former members of the UBS AG municipal derivatives group to rig bids and fabricate work on transactions.
Doug Campbell, a senior marketer in the municipal reinvestment and municipal interest rate hedging group at Bank of America from 1998 to 2002, told a Manhattan federal jury yesterday that he worked with the men at UBS to ensure Bank of America won bids.
“Generally, it was a conspiracy to allocate and rig bids in the municipal reinvestment market,” Campbell said. When UBS employees initially approached him about an arrangement in which he would get bid information in advance, “I did not turn down the offer,” he said.
Campbell was testifying against Peter Ghavami, the former head of UBS’s municipal derivatives group, and Michael Welty and Gary Heinz, both former vice presidents and municipal reinvestment marketers at UBS. The three are charged with conspiracy to defraud municipal-bond issuers and U.S. tax authorities by fixing prices on investing agreements.
Responding to questions from a government lawyer, Campbell said he made a deal with the defendants that “UBS PaineWebber would start showing us information about the transaction in advance” and Bank of America would reciprocate through submitting intentionally losing bids in some transactions and involving UBS in Bank of America business when possible.
Campbell told jurors that after Mark Zaino, a former employee on the bond desk in Zurich-based UBS’s New York office, passed along advance information about an escrow transaction for Massachusetts, Campbell “was looking for ways to reciprocate.”
“I was hearing, certainly from Mark, ‘The desk is unhappy with you. You need to reciprocate. We did you a big favor,’” Campbell said.
To reciprocate, Campbell testified, he put UBS fees on bills for other transactions, indicating to those clients that UBS had advised in the matter when it had not. Zaino would then submit an invoice for Charlotte, North Carolina-based Bank of America to pay UBS.
Campbell, 47, pleaded guilty in September 2010 to restraint of trade, conspiracy to defraud municipal issuers and wire fraud. He faces as long as 35 years in prison and several million dollars in financial penalties, he told jurors. He’s testifying as part of a cooperation agreement with the government.
The case is U.S. v. Ghavami, 10-cr-1217, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).