AP News

Investors in broke resorts want documents unsealed

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Resort property owners suing international banking giant Credit Suisse over allegations of a loan-to-own scheme say the financial firm has wrongly sealed thousands of pages of documents in the court case, and they want the documents made public.

The multi-billion dollar federal lawsuit was brought by property owners at resorts in the West and in the Bahamas against Credit Suisse and real estate brokerage Cushman & Wakefield. The plaintiffs claim Credit Suisse set up an offshore branch to skirt U.S. rules, appraised resorts at inflated prices and then provided loans based on those appraisals, with the aim to foreclose on the properties when the owners couldn't repay the loans.

Credit Suisse has denied those allegations, with its attorneys saying the legal action was based on absurd claims from people who never actually borrowed money from the bank.

The complicated lawsuit has been chugging through federal court in Boise since 2010, brought by investors in Idaho's Tamarack Resort, the Yellowstone Club in Montana, Nevada's Lake Las Vegas resort and the Ginn Sur Mer Resort in the Bahamas.

All the parties in the lawsuit agreed in April that some of the documents in the case should be protected from public view because they contained proprietary or financial information or were otherwise considered private. The parties agreed on two designations for those documents: "confidential," which would indicate the material was generally private and should be kept from public view; and "highly confidential," which would indicate that the information involves trade secrets or other information that is so sensitive it could negatively impact the producing party's ability to conduct business, and so should be more closely protected.

But on Tuesday, attorneys for the property owners filed a motion asking U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge to lift the confidentiality designation on some documents. The property owners say Credit Suisse has produced more than 49,000 pages of documents in the case and more than 95 percent of them have been designated as confidential or highly confidential. Cushman & Wakefield has produced more than 58,000 pages of documents, according to the court filing, with 95 percent of them with the confidential designations.

"The great majority of the 109,000 pages of documents cannot properly be so designated under either the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure or the Rules of this Court," the attorneys for the plaintiffs wrote in their motion.

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