Mineworkers’ and British Coal pension schemes secure £267m settlement

The UK Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme and the British Coal Staff Superannuation Scheme have secured a $350m (£267m) settlement in a US securities fraud case.

The case was against First Solar, one of the world’s largest producers of photovoltaic solar panels, and alleged that the firm had made false and misleading statements about defects in its products.

Furthermore, First Solar was accused of failing to disclose material adverse facts about its business, operations and prospects.

Commenting, a spokesperson for the schemes said: “We are pleased that a $350 million financial settlement has been reached on behalf of all members of the class.

“We believe it is important that asset owners hold companies and executives to account when securities fraud is discovered and this approach forms part of our commitment to being a good steward of our members’ pension assets.”

The pension schemes claimed that between April 2008 and February 2012, executives at First Solar discovered a manufacturing defect that caused the companies products to lose power and a design defect that caused power loss in high temperatures.

It alleges that First Solar concealed these faults from shareholders, misrepresented the cost and scope of the issues, and reported false information on the company’s financial statements.

First Solar defendants denied the claims but reached the £267m settlement for the investor class prior to the trial.

The settlement, subject to approval by the US District Court of Arizona, will resolve claims brought on behalf of all persons who purchased or otherwise acquired First Solar shares during the class period.

The schemes were represented and advised by Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LPP.

Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LPP partner, Mark Solomon, added: “This result, which serves both as a measure of compensation for First Solar’s victimised investors and also to deter others from participating in fraudulent misconduct, is rendered possible only because there are responsible institutions such as the Mineworkers' Pension Scheme and the British Coal Staff Superannuation Scheme whose stewards are willing to stand up and spearhead the cases.

“So long as we can provide and fund such opportunities for them, it is our mission to do so.”

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