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Pension fund with more than 90,000 members in Norfolk claims US court victory

PUBLISHED: 13:05 01 March 2019 | UPDATED: 13:29 01 March 2019

Judy Oliver, chairman of the Norfolk Pensiuon Fund. Pic: Norfolk Conservatives.

Judy Oliver, chairman of the Norfolk Pensiuon Fund. Pic: Norfolk Conservatives.

Norfolk Conservatives

A pensions fund with more than 90,000 members across Norfolk has claimed a United States court victory over a medical company which misled investors.

Norfolk Pension Fund’s members include council staff from across the county, as well as from more than 200 employers.

The fund, run by Norfolk County Council, used a fraud law firm to take action against Los Angeles-based Puma Biotechnology and its chief executive and chairman Alan H Auerbach.

The allegations were that, through statements made by its chief executive, the company made false public statements to the market that caused the price of shares in a breast cancer to be artificially inflated.

A jury in Santa Ana, California, has found Puma Biotechnology and Mr Auerbach, committed securities fraud and are liable to compensate investors - such as the Norfolk Pension Fund - who bought shares in the company between July 22 2014 and May 13 2015.

The verdict was the culmination of almost four years of litigation and a three-week trial in which Norfolk Pension Fund served as lead plaintiff.

The jury determined the fraud inflated the share price by $4.50, which lawyers said may cost defendants up to $100m, and the Norfolk Pension Fund $50,000.

The verdict means claims will now be filed to recover lost money.

Judy Oliver, chairman of the Norfolk Pension Fund said: “We are pleased with the jury’s findings in favour of investors, that a financial recovery in which Norfolk Pension Fund will participate has been won, and that this verdict may bring significant improvement to Puma’s management.”

But Puma Biotechnology also claimed victory, saying the jury had found in their favour in respect of three of four statements and in respect to one of two stock drops.

Mr Auerbach said: “We are excited to return our focus to running the business, growing sales and providing our product to patients suffering from HER-2 positive breast cancer.”

Mark Solomon, a partner at Robbins Geller Rudman and Dowd, which has represented Norfolk since the case started in 2015, said: “We were assiduous in prosecuting this case to recoup losses suffered by investors at the hands of Puma Biotechnology and Alan Auerbach.”

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