NPR Story
11:24 am
Tue May 28, 2013

Hopi Tribe To Sue Wachovia For Fraud

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The Hopi Tribe of northeastern Arizona has filed a lawsuit against Wachovia bank, alleging that the tribe was taken advantage of by their financial advisers. The lawsuit seeks nearly $190 million in damages for investment fraud.

According to the Hopi, Wachovia employees David Bowling and James Roy gained control of the tribes investment accounts in 2007, causing enormous financial losses to the Hopi, while making profits for themselves and the bank.

“They were moving around and investing and playing with about $70 to $80 million of the tribes funds,” said Norberto Cisneros, attorney for the Hopi. “With that they basically just had carte blanche access to it and used it in a way that benefited them and not necessarily fulfilled their fiduciary obligations to the tribe.”

Cisneros says it appears one of the former Wachovia employees named in the suit, Bowling, served as a financial adviser to Zuni Pueblo. The Securities and Exchange Commission announced in 2011 that Wachovia engaged in similar misconduct with the Zuni shortly before taking the Hopi tribe on as clients.

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