According to a press release dated February 13, 2009, a class action has been commenced on behalf all persons or entities who purchased or held shares of the Oppenheimer Champion Income Fund (“Champion Fund” or the “Fund”) (NASDAQ:OPCHX; NASDAQ:OCHBX; NASDAQ:OCHCX; NASDAQ:OCHNX; NASDAQ:OCHYX) offered by OppenheimerFunds, Inc. (“OppenheimerFunds”) between January 26, 2007 and December 9, 2008, inclusive (the ”Class Period”), including in connection with its January 26, 2007 and January 25, 2008 offerings (the “Offerings”).
The complaint charges the Champion Fund, OppenheimerFunds and certain of its officers and directors with violations of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, the Securities Act of 1933 and the Investment Company Act of 1940. The Champion Fund is an open-ended fixed income mutual fund launched and managed by OppenheimerFunds.
The complaint alleges that due to defendants’ positive, but false, statements, investors purchased and/or continued to hold shares in the Fund. The Champion Fund was a typical high-yield bond fund until late 2006 when, unbeknownst to investors, the Fund altered its investment style and began to significantly increase its risk in the hopes of seeking higher returns, including by dramatically increasing its use of derivative instruments, purchasing highly unstable mortgage-related and corporate bonds and significantly increasing its leverage exposure. Defendants concealed that the Champion Fund had increased its exposure with these excessively risky bets in the hopes of higher returns, such that investors remained unaware of these additional risk exposures.
Beginning in July 2008, the Champion Fund’s shares declined in tandem with other high-yield fund shares as the credit crunch exposed the poor underlying fundamentals of the financial sector’s mortgage risk management and problems with structured finance vehicles. As a result of these concerns, the Fund’s shares began to slide. Then, beginning in mid-September 2008 with the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and American International Group, Inc. and continuing through December 2008, the Fund began to acknowledge the serious deterioration in its portfolio. As a result of these disclosures, the price of the Fund’s shares collapsed.
According to the complaint, the true facts which were omitted from the Registration Statements/Prospectuses or were known by the defendants but concealed from the investing public during the Class Period were as follows: (a) the Fund was no longer adhering to its objective to not take on any undue risk, but in an effort to achieve greater yields was pursuing riskier instruments; (b) the Fund’s internal controls were inadequate to prevent defendants from taking on excessive risk; (c) the extent of the Fund’s liquidity risk due to the illiquid nature of a large portion of the Fund’s portfolios was omitted; (d) the extent of the Fund’s risk exposure to derivatives and other high risk instruments was concealed; and (e) the extent of the Fund’s leverage exposure was misstated.
On April 23, 2009, a proposed order and notice of voluntary dismissal pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 41 (A)(1) filed by the plaintiff, dismissed his complaint without prejudice the court.
On May 6, 2009, an Order And Notice Of Voluntary Dismissal Pursuant To FED. R. CIV. P. 41 (A)(1) was granted by the court voluntarily dismissing John Estner from his complaint without prejudice.
The case continued in a related filing filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado, Janssen, et al. v. OppenheimerFunds, Inc., et al., case number 09-CV-00386. On September 25, 2009, the Court entered the Order consolidating Civil Action Nos. 09-cv-386-JLK-KMT (Janssen) and 09-cv-525-JLKKMT (Peters) (the Oppenheimer Champion Fund cases), with the lower-numbered Janssen action serving as lead case; appointed Goodman and O' Steen as Lead Plaintiffs for the Champion Fund Class; and, approved Lead Plaintiffs selections of the law firm of Labaton Sucharow LLP as Lead Counsel and The Shuman Law Firm as Liaison Counsel for Lead Plaintiffs and the Class.
On October 13, 2009, the Lead Plaintiff filed a Consolidated Class Action Complaint, and the defendants responded by filing two motions to dismiss on December 3, 2009.
On March 2, 2010, the Court entered the Order signed by Judge John L. Kane granting the unopposed motion to consolidate. Specifically, according to the Order, In re: Oppenheimer Champion Fund Securities Class Fraud Class Actions, Civil Action No. 09-cv-00386-JLK-KMT (consolidated with 09-cv-525-JLK-KMT) and In re Core Bond Fund, Civil Action No. 09-cv-01186-JLK-KMT (hereinafter referred to as the Fixed Income Fund Actions) and Donald L. Cohn and Karen S. Cohn v OppenheimerFunds, Inc., et al, Civil Action No. 09-cv-02738-JLK-KMT (hereinafter the Cohn Action) are hereby consolidated for discovery purposes only, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 42(a). The law firm appointed as Lead Counsel in the Fixed Income Fund Actions (Lead Counsel) shall be principally responsible for overseeing and conducting the discovery in these consolidated actions.
In May 2010, the case was stayed pending mediation, and on July 22, 2010, the stay was lifted. On May 19, 2011, a Stipulation and Agreement of Settlement was filed, along with an unopposed motion for preliminary approval of the proposed settlement. The proposed settlement amount is $52,500,000, to be paid by the company or their insurers. On June 1, 2011, the settlement was preliminarily approved. The Settlement Hearing is set for September 30, 2011. On August 11, 2011, an Amended and Restated Stipulation and Agreement of Settlement was filed.
Objections have been filed regarding the settlement.
On September 30, 2011, Judge John L. Kane approved the distribution plan, the motion for award of attorneys' fees and reimbursement of expenses. The settlement was approved and all claims asserted in the Consolidated Class Action Complaint were dismissed with prejudice and without costs to any party except as otherwise provided in the Stipulation.