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Class-action suit accuses UBS of Charging Storage Fees On “Phantom” Silver.
According to the lawsuit, customers were charged storage fees every month, even though the bank was not actually storing anything. It never purchased any physical silver. Instead, the bank allegedly used customer cash for its own purposes. In effect, customers ended up buying a non-interest bearing silver bond. such bonds, based on a promise of repayment in precious metals, were typically issued in the late 19th and early 20th century. Back then, they bore a nice interest rate, payable in gold or silver. Today’s version of the precious metal bond is unallocated storage, which takes money from investors but pays them nothing at all.
A very similar lawsuit was filed, in 2007, against morgan stanley (ms). In that case, small investors were also claiming they had been defrauded into participating in unallocated metals storage. The bank defended itself by alleging, among other defenses, that it was simply following standard industry practices. In other words, the amount of information given to customers, the unallocated nature of the scheme, as well as the charging of “storage fees” for imaginary metal were “standard industry practices”. In light of what we now know, maybe they were telling the truth. Morgan stanley did eventually settle for a multi-million dollar payout, but it continued to deny liability.
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