By Nate Raymond
NEW YORK, Nov 12 (Reuters) - Barclays Bank Plc has won a
dismissal of a U.S. lawsuit brought on behalf of creditors of
energy transport and storage company SemGroup LP.
The lawsuit had sought repayment of a $143 million fee that
SemGroup paid the bank to take over its commodities trading
positions before it filed for bankruptcy in 2008.
U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan issued an order
on Friday granting Barclays' motion to dismiss the lawsuit.
Rakoff said he will give his reasons for dismissing the lawsuit
in a later written opinion.
Brandon Ashcraft, a spokesman for Barclays, declined to
Lawyers for Bettina Whyte, the trustee who brought the
lawsuit on behalf of the creditors and a managing director at
Alvarez & Marsal, did not respond to requests for comment.
SemGroup filed for bankruptcy in 2008 after incurring $2.4
billion in oil and commodities trading losses, mostly on the New
York Mercantile Exchange. The company, based in Tulsa, Oklahoma,
emerged from bankruptcy in 2009.
The lawsuit against Barclays, filed in July 2012, stemmed
from events leading up to the bankruptcy filing, when SemGroup
was seeking to offload its trading book.
As part of that process, SemGroup began talks with Barclays
in July 2008 to take over its commodities investments.
According to the trustee's lawsuit, Barclays used its
leverage over SemGroup to reject any proposal with terms
favorable to the energy company and its creditors.
Instead, Barclays obtained a $143 million novation fee to go
through with the deal, the lawsuit said.
Barclays put on what it called its "greedy hat" to extract
the fee from a company the bank internally said was in "do or
die" mode, according to the lawsuit.
"Under the circumstances, the size of the fee was
unconscionable and SemGroup did not receive reasonably
equivalent value," the lawsuit said.
The SemGroup trustee alleged that the fee constituted a
fraudulent transfer and had to be returned.
Barclays filed court papers in August seeking dismissal of
the case. Among other reasons, the bank said the lawsuit was
filed two years late.
The case is in Re: Bettina M. Whyte vs Barclays Bank Plc,
U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No.
For Bettina Whyte: Rachel Fleishman, William Reid and Jason Collins of Reid Collins & Tsai.
For Barclays: Robinson Lacy and Jeffrey Scott of Sullivan & Cromwell.
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