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Manulife Financial Corporation has taken steps to settle pending class-action lawsuits in Ontario and Quebec. The lawsuits involve Manulife and some of its former officers, who have entered into an agreement to settle the proceedings.

The agreement has no admission of liability and would distribute $69 million to eligible class members. The entire settlement amount would be funded by insurance. The settlement is subject to court approval.

The proceedings are based on unproven allegations that Manulife failed to meet disclosure obligations related to its exposure to market price risk in its segregated funds and variable annuity guaranteed products. In a release, Manulife states, “The agreement contains no admission of wrongdoing by Manulife or any of its former officers, nor are Manulife or any of its former officers acknowledging any liability, wrongdoing or violation of laws by entering into the settlement agreement.”

Manulife maintains that its disclosure practices satisfied applicable requirements. The firm says it would like to settle the Ontario and Quebec class actions in order to avoid “the potential cost of two separate trials.” The firm adds that even if it was successful in its litigation, it anticipates “significant” costs that “would not be recoverable, even with a successful outcome.”

The U.S. Federal Court for the Southern District of New York dismissed a proposed class action against Manulife involving allegations similar to those asserted in the Ontario and Quebec proceedings. In April 2011, Manulife disclosed that staff of the Ontario Securities Commission informed Manulife that the commission would not be seeking any orders in connection with the enforcement notice delivered in June 2009.

Read: Manulife faces class action in New York

Details regarding the proposed settlement will be provided to potential class members. At this time, the conditions of the settlement have not received required court approval and dates have not been set for settlement approval hearings.

When contacted by Advisor.ca, Manulife reiterated the comments made in its release. The AMF and OSC offered no comment.

Originally published on Advisor.ca
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