Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Case of the Day: Sejin Precision Indus. Co. v. Citibank, N.A., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 132793 (S.D.N.Y. June 26, 2017)


Plaintiffs are six South Korean mid-sized manufacturers alleging fraud by the Korean affiliate of the defendant Citibank. The alleged misrepresentation involved a financial product called "KIKO," which stands for "knock-in, knock-out." KIKO is a type of hedge against the fluctuations in foreign exchange rate, to which the plaintiffs were exposed as exporters who receive payments in USD while spending money in KRW. In essence, the plaintiffs alleged that Citibank's Korea affiliate marketed KIKO in a way that misled them on KIKO's risks, eventually costing them over US $40 million when the USD-KRW exchange rate fluctuated in the direction adverse to the plaintiffs.

The court first found that all the claims were time-barred, as the six-year statute of limitations under the New York law has run. The court also found the defendant's assurance that KIKO was a "zero cost" instrument was a prediction of future events (that the USD would appreciate,) which cannot serve as a basis of a fraud claim. The court further found the plaintiffs' reliance on the defendant's representations was unreasonable, as the transactions were clearly structured for the plaintiffs and the bank to stand opposite of each other. The court also found there was no fiduciary relationship between the plaintiffs and the defendants.


This is a holdover from the 2008 financial crisis, when the USD appreciated sharply and caused massive losses to companies holding option products such as these. There was an earlier litigation in South Korea regarding this product (which went all the way up to Korea's Supreme Court,) and the plaintiffs lost there also. Although East Asia overall survived the 2008 crisis better than the U.S. and Europe, but certainly there were segments that suffered.

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