Daily News: January 4, 2013

Broker Sentenced in Muni ‘Last Look’ Bidding Case


The Department of Justice announced that a former financial services broker was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, for his participation in conspiracies related to bidding for contracts for the investment of municipal bond proceeds and other municipal finance contracts.

Adrian Scott-Jones, a former broker for Tradition N.A., was sentenced by District Court Judge Harold Baer Jr. for his role in the conspiracies. Scott-Jones was sentenced to serve 18 months in prison and to pay a $12,500 criminal fine.

Scott-Jones pleaded guilty to participating in multiple conspiracies with executives of GE affiliates, from as early as 1999 until 2006. According to the charges, GE and other financial institutions and insurance companies (providers), offered a type of contract, known as an investment agreement, to state, county and local governments and agencies throughout the U.S. The public entities hired brokers like Scott-Jones and Tradition to conduct bidding for contracts to invest money from a variety of sources, primarily the proceeds of municipal bonds issued to raise money for, among other things, public projects. Scott-Jones also participated in a conspiracy with representatives of a second provider located in New York City.

According to court documents, in each conspiracy, Scott-Jones gave co-conspirators information about the prices, price levels or conditions in competitors’ bids, a practice known as a “last look,” which is explicitly prohibited by U.S. Treasury regulations. Scott-Jones also solicited and received intentionally losing bids for certain investment agreements and other municipal finance contracts. As a result of Scott-Jones’ role in corrupting the bidding process for investment agreements, he and his co-conspirators deprived the municipalities of competitive interest rates for the investment of tax-exempt bond proceeds used by municipalities for various public works projects, such as water pollution abatement projects and low-cost housing. The department said that the conspiracies cost municipalities around the country millions of dollars.

“From soliciting intentionally losing bids for investment agreements to paying out kickbacks to manipulate the competitive bidding process, the conspirators went to great lengths to defraud municipalities across the country,” said Scott D. Hammond, Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division’s criminal enforcement program. “Today’s sentence sends a clear message that the division will continue to hold executives accountable for their anticompetitive conduct.”

A total of 20 individuals have been charged as a result of the department’s ongoing municipal bonds investigation, 19 of whom have been convicted at trial or pleaded guilty; one is currently awaiting trial. Additionally, one company has pleaded guilty.

To read the Justice Department news release click here.