MINNEAPOLIS, MN. – December 22, 2005 – Trustee James Stephenson has filed a motion with the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Minnesota to approve a settlement agreement in connection with litigation over the 2001 collapse of Minnesota brokerage MJK Clearing, Inc. To date, approximately $10 billion has been recovered and distributed to customers of MJK Clearing, Inc. Mr. Stephenson was designated as trustee in the matter by the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) and appointed by the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota. SIPC maintains a special reserve fund mandated by Congress to protect the customers of insolvent brokerage firms.
“Once the settlement is approved and paid, every single customer and creditor of MJK Clearing with an allowed claim will be reimbursed in full,” Stephenson said.
The settlement concludes four years of investigation and litigation against Deutsche Bank for its role in transactions that led to the demise of MJK Clearing. Under the settlement agreement, Deutsche Bank will pay $147.5 million in cash to the estate of MJK Clearing and will settle separately other claims against the estate which will now be withdrawn. The total value of the settlements to the estate of MJK Clearing is approximately $270 million.
Following payment of the settlement, Stephenson said the estate will make a 100 percent distribution, with interest, to the remaining creditors in the bankruptcy case, including re-payment of all amounts advanced to the estate by the Securities Investor Protection Corporation, which requested the liquidation of MJK Clearing in 2001. The MJK liquidation case is the largest ever handled by SIPC.
“The results in this case have been exceptional,” said Stephen Harbeck, president of SIPC. “The trustee was able to return control of customer assets to customers in very short order after the failure of the firm. The current settlement will lead to the complete satisfaction of all valid creditor claims as well. The Securities Investor Protection Act allowed SIPC to provide the trustee with the interim economic resources that made this result possible. I am sure the outcome here will be a model for future liquidation proceedings.”
SIPC will recover approximately $80 million paid by it during the MJK Clearing liquidation proceedings.
The size of the settlement will exceed the amount needed to re-pay all creditors and customers in full, Stephenson said, including issuers of secured demand notes who settled their claims earlier in the MJK proceedings. Excess monies will be distributed to Stockwalk Group, Inc., which owns MJK Clearing.
Litigation is still pending against a variety of other parties named in the suit, and Stephenson noted that further announcements will be made regarding the status of those actions. In some cases, defaults have already been entered against parties who failed to appear in court.
Stephenson was appointed as trustee for the protection of customers of MJK Clearing, Inc. on September 27, 2001, three days after the brokerage was declared insolvent. He is a senior partner of the law firm of Faegre & Benson and a past chairman of the firm. He is past chair of both the Business Law and Banking Law committees of the Minnesota State Bar Association.
Three veteran partners of Faegre & Benson, trial lawyers Robert Schnell and James Volling, and bankruptcy lawyer Stephen Mertz, headed Stephenson’s legal team.