HSBC Wins Dismissal of Claims by Counterparty to ISDA-Based Swap Agreement Linked to the Performance of a Madoff Feeder Fund

December 15, 2011

On Thursday, December 15, Senior District Judge Samuel Conti of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California dismissed with prejudice claims brought against HSBC Bank USA, N.A. by Wailea Fund L.P., a counterparty to an ISDA-based swap agreement with HSBC that referenced the performance of a Madoff feeder fund. Wailea filed its complaint on July 19, 2011, seeking rescission of the swap agreement and return of approximately $16 million in upfront premium payments made to HSBC in connection with the swap. Wailea claimed a right to rescission on various grounds, including mutual mistake, unilateral mistake, innocent misrepresentation, failure of condition, and violations of the California securities laws.

Following oral argument on December 9, the Court dismissed all of Wailea’s claims, holding that, under the plain language of the swap agreement, Wailea had assumed the risk of mistake as to the performance of the Madoff feeder fund as a matter of law, could not claim reasonable reliance on any representations made by HSBC as a matter of law, failed to and could not as a matter of law plead any condition precedent to contract formation, and could not point to any statements or omissions by HSBC that were actionable under the California securities laws.