The indictment, unsealed yesterday, uses pseudonyms for as-yet unindicted parties, but the time period specified within the indictment — from 2001 through 2004 — coincides with complicated derivatives called interest rate swaps that Jefferson County engaged in then. Authorities have accused CDR and its executives of rigging bids and accepting kickbacks.
A swap advisor evaluates the fairness of the transactions for its clients. However, the advisor does not get paid unless the transaction happens, creating a potential conflict of interest.
The indictment follows a three-to-four-year investigation involving the Justice Department, the Internal Revenue Service and the Securities and Exchange Commission. The investigation has nosed around some major financial institutions, including JP Morgan, which acted frequently as a counter party on bond swaps with Jefferson County. Another bank, Bank of America, has entered a leniency agreement with the government in exchange for cooperation.
Earlier this year, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson withdrew from the running for an Obama cabinet appointment after the same investigation unearthed ties between CDR and his administration.
Lawyers for CDR and its executives have denied the indictment's allegations.