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Merrill Lynch Hit By Auction Rate Securities Lawsuit

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A class action lawsuit was filed in federal court yesterday against Merrill Lynch, hours after we reported that Merrill had been threatened with suits by brokerage customers whose assets were frozen in auction rate securities. Merrill is the latest entrant in a club that includes Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank and UBS, all of whom have been separately sued over alleged deceptive marketing of auction-rate securities.
Merrill also faces a separate arbitration claim from ASTAR Air Cargo, which seeks compensatory damages of $9.125 million and punitive damages of at least $27.375 million. ASTAR, an air carrier based in Wilmington,Ohio, filed the claim with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority to gain access to ASTAR’s funds that currently are frozen in illiquid auction rate securities in the company’s Merrill Lynch account.
According to ASTAR, the air carrier instructed Merrill Lynch to place its cash reserves in products that would provide complete safety of principal and complete liquidity. In response, Merrill Lynch reportedly recommended the company purchase various ARS.
Update: Here's a copy of the complaint against Merrill.

Merrill, Morgan Stanley sued over auction rates
ASTAR alleges Merrill Lynch fraud [Willmington New Journal]