ATTORNEY: TAMAR A. WEINRIB
POMERANTZ MONITOR JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2019
As this issue of the Monitor was going to press, Pomerantz, as sole Lead Counsel, achieved a $27 million settlement on behalf of the Class in Strougo v. Barclays PLC, which is pending court approval. In this high-profile securities litigation, plaintiffs alleged that defendants Barclays PLC, Barclays Capital US, and former head of equities electronic trading William White, concealed information and misled investors regarding its management of its Liquidity Cross, or LX, dark pool -- a private off-exchange trading platform where the size and price of orders are not revealed to other participants.
Specifically, during the Class Period, Barclays touted its Liquidity Profiling tool, describing it as “a sophisticated surveillance framework that protects clients from predatory trading activity in LX,” while promoting LX as “built on transparency” and featuring “built-in safeguards to manage toxicity [of aggressive traders].” However, the suit alleges that rather than banning “predatory” traders, Barclays actively encouraged them to enter the pool, applied manual overrides to re-categorize “aggressive” clients as “passive” in the Liquidity Profiling system, failed to police LX to prevent and punish toxic trading, intentionally altered marketing materials to omit reference to the largest predatory high frequency trader in LX, and preferentially routed dark orders to LX where those orders rested for two seconds seeking a “fill” vulnerable to toxic traders. This preferential treatment to high-frequency traders allowed them to victimize other dark pool investors by trading ahead of anticipated purchase and sell orders, thereby rapidly capitalizing on proprietary information regarding trading patterns.
In certifying the Class in February 2016, Judge Shira S. Scheindlin of the federal district court in the Southern District of New York held that even though the dark pool was just a tiny part of Barclays’ overall operations, defendants’ fraud was qualitatively material to investors because it reflected directly on the integrity of management. Defendants appealed Judge Scheindlin’s ruling in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.
Pomerantz, in successfully opposing the appeal, achieved a precedent-setting decision in November 2017, when the Second Circuit affirmed Judge Scheindlin’s class certification ruling. The Court held that direct evidence of market efficiency is not always necessary to invoke the Basic presumption of reliance, and was not required here. The Court further held that Defendants seeking to rebut the presumption must do so by a preponderance of the evidence. This ruling will form the bedrock of class action securities litigation for decades to come.
Pomerantz Managing Partner Jeremy Lieberman stated, “We are extremely pleased with this settlement, which represents more than 28 percent of plaintiffs’ alleged recoverable damages,” he said, “well above the norm in securities class actions.”
Pomerantz Partner Tamar A. Weinrib led the litigation with Managing Partner Jeremy Lieberman and Pomerantz Senior Partner Patrick V. Dahlstrom.