Articles Posted in Mortgage-Backed Securities

Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) will settle two civil residential mortgage-backed securities lawsuits for $1.1B.  The payment will go to the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) and resolves claims accusing the bank of selling faulty MBSs to two corporate credit unions, causing their failure.  The federal actions were brought in California and Kansas, respectively. This is one of the largest settlements reached in mortgage-backed securities cases brought against banks.
The allegedly toxic RMBSs were sold to Western Corporate Federal Credit Union and the Central Federal Credit Union. By settling, however, RBS is not admitting fault.
It was just last year that Royal Bank of Scotland agreed to pay $129.6M to NCUA to resolve claims over its sale of mortgage-backed securities to Members United Corporate Federal Credit Union and Southwest Corporate Federal Credit Union. Both are now defunct, too. 

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Deutsche Bank (DB) and the U.S. Department of Justice have yet to reach a settlement over allegations about the way that the German lender packaged toxic mortgages leading up to the 2008 financial crisis. According to The Wall Street Journal, The DOJ wants the bank to pay $14B. Deutsche Bank, however, said it has no plans to pay “anywhere near the number cited” and sees that figure as a starting point in negotiations.

In a statement, the firm said that it expected the final figure to be much lower and closer to what other banks have paid over similar allegations. InvestmentNews reports that it has not been uncommon for the DOJ in its investigation into MBSs to first put forward higher penalties than the eventual settlement that is reached.

Other firms and their deals over their mortgage lending activities include Bank of America (BAC) for $16.7B, Citigroup (C) for $7B, JPMorgan Chase (JPM) for $9B, Goldman Sachs (GS) for $5.1B, and Morgan Stanley (MS) for $3.2B. Goldman Sachs admitted to wrongdoing when it settled claims that it did not properly vet MBS before selling them as quality debt to investors.

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Edwin Chin, an ex-Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) senior trader, will pay $400K to resolve U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission charges accusing him of misleading the bank’s customers when he sold them residential mortgage-backed securities at prices that were higher than they should have been. Even though he is settling, Chin is not denying or admitting to the regulator’s findings. He has, however, agreed to the entry of the order stating that he violated the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5.

According to the Commission’s order, from 2010 until 2012, which is when Chin left the bank, the former Goldman trader made extra money for the firm by concealing the prices that it had paid for different RMBSs and reselling the securities at higher prices to customers. The difference in cost would go to Goldman.

The SEC said Chin made over $1.5M in additional trading profits. Because Goldman made more money, Chin did as well.

The regulator accused Chin of sometimes misleading buyers by suggesting that he was in the process of negotiating a transaction between customers when he was merely selling residential mortgage-backed securities from Goldman’s inventory. In one alleged incident, Chin earned an additional $200K by telling a hedge fund client that he would sell a bond at cost price and without compensation. Unfortunately, he purportedly neglected to tell the hedge fund that he had already bought the security, had it in inventory, and was charging the fund a worse price than what Goldman paid earlier that day. The SEC said that Chin misled the same client about the price of a different security the following day, resulting in an additional $100K in profit.

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The U.S. Attorney for Manhattan’s Southern District is asking the Second Circuit Court of Appeals to look at a ruling that overturned the jury verdict that held Countrywide Home Loans liable for mortgage fraud. Countrywide, which is now owned by Bank of America (BAC), made billions of dollars on home loans that went into default following the 2008 financial crisis.

It was in 2007 that the mortgage provider introduced a new program, referred to as the “high-speed swim lane,” to process applications for mortgages. Within Countrywide, the program was dubbed the “hustle.”

The program did not include the majority of conditions required to make sure loans would be paid back after Wall Street banks, Freddie Mac, or Fannie Mae sold them to investors. Unfortunately, Freddie and Fannie were not told that these conditions had become more relaxed or that loans no longer met certain criteria. The two mortgage finance firms had tightened their own loan buying requirements and underwriting guidelines. As a result of the loosened restrictions by Countrywide, contended the Justice Department, “rampant instances of fraud” resulted.

Despite the 2013 jury verdict that found Countrywide and a Bank of America executive liable for mortgage fraud, a Second Circuit judge panel overruled the decision. It found that even though Countrywide purposely breached contracts, this was not fraud because the lender had not intended to fool customers at the time that contracts were signed.

Now, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara wants a Second Circuit panel of judges to consider that Countrywide made false statements when selling loan bundles to customers, including Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. He said that the court bypassed evidence at trial that showed how the defendants made fraudulent misrepresentations when selling the loans and while the contracts were being executed. Prosecutors are arguing that the language in the contract refers to each mortgage sale during the actual sale and not upon the writing of the contract.

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A U. S. district court judge said that Deutsche Bank AG (DB) must face part of a mortgage fraud case accusing the German bank of bilking investors who purchased over $5.4M of preferred securities. The plaintiffs, led by two individuals and Belmont Holdings Corp., claim that Deutsche Bank hid its exposure to the subprime mortgage market.

Judge Doborah Batts turned down the bank’s bid to throw out claims related to about $2.55B of securities sold in 11/07 and 2/08. She did, however, dismiss claims involving $2.9B of securities sold in 5/07, 7/07, and 5/08. Investors claim that Deutsche Bank should have notified them in offering documents that it had significant exposure to subprime markets via collateralized debt obligations and residential mortgage-backed securities. They believe that early notification could have prevented them from purchasing the preferred securities before their values dropped, resulting in billions of dollars of losses.

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The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said that First Mortgage Corporation (FMC) and six of its executives will pay $12.7M to resolve charges accusing them of running a RMBS fraud scam to bilk investors. The Government National Mortgage Association, also known as Ginnie Mae, guaranteed the residential mortgage-backed securities. The mortgage lending company is the one that issued the Ginnie Mae RMBS and the securities were backed by loans that FMC had originated.

According to the regulator, from 3/11 to 3/15, FMC’s top executives withdrew performing loans from Ginnie Mae residential mortgage-backed securities by making false claims that they were delinquent so that it could sell them into newly issued RMBS and make a profit. The mortgage company’s improper and deceptive use of a Ginnie Mae rule giving issuers the choice to rebuy loans that had been delinquent for at least three months caused the prospectuses of the original RMBS to become misleading and false.

The SEC also claims that FMC purposely held back on depositing the checks of borrowers who were late on their loans by making false claims to Ginnie Mae and investors that these loans had stayed delinquent when they were, in fact, current. In its complaint, the regulator said that FMC’s top management approved these actions.

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1st Circuit Reinstates Lawsuit Against Moody’s
The First Circuit Court of Appeals has reinstated the $5.9 billion residential mortgage-backed securities fraud case brought by the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston against Moody’s Investor’s Service, Inc. and Moody’s Corp. The bank claims that the credit rating agency knowingly issued false ratings on certain RMBSs that it had purchased.

A district court judge in Massachusetts had dismissed the lawsuit citing lack of personal jurisdiction. The judge also held that the court could not move the lawsuit to a different court where jurisdiction would be proper because cases dismissed for lack of jurisdiction could only be transferred if the dismissal was for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, not personal jurisdiction.

Now the First Circuit has vacated that ruling and found that transferring a case that has dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction is also allowed. It is moving the RMBS case to the district court, which will decide whether to move the case to New York.

Former Barclays Trader Pleaded Guilty to Libor Rigging
According to prosecutors in the U.K., ex-Barclays Plc. (BARC) trader Peter Johnson pleaded guilty to conspiracy to manipulate the London interbank offered rated in 2014. The government announced the guilty plea this week after lifting a court order that had prevented the plea from being reported until now. The disclosure comes as the criminal trial against five of Johnson’s former Barclays co-workers into related allegations is underway.

The defendants on trial are Jay Merchant, Stylianos Contogoulas, Alex Pabon, Ryan Reich, and Jonathan Matthew. They have pleaded not guilty to the charge of conspiracy to commit fraud. The U.K.’s serious fraud office claims that the men acted dishonestly when they turned in or asked others to submit rates for Libor.

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Bank of America to Pay Federal Home Loan Bank of Seattle $190M
Bank of America Corp. will pay $190M to resolve mortgage-backed securities fraud charges brought by the Federal Home Loan Bank of Seattle. The SEC filing stated that the settlement was reached last month and that most of it was previously accrued. The lawsuit alleged misstatements and omissions during the issuance of MBSs.

It was just earlier this year that Bank of America’s Merrill Lynch and 10 other banks agreed to pay over $63M to resolve accusations that they misrepresented residential mortgage-backed securities to the Virginia Retirement System and the state of Virginia.

Judge Approves $270M Mortgage-Backed Securities Fraud Settlement Involving Goldman Sachs
A federal judge has approved the proposed settlement between Goldman Sachs (GS) and lead plaintiff NECA-IBEW Health & Welfare Fund, as well as 400 bondholders and another electrical union pension fund. The Illinois pension fund for electrical workers brought the case in 2008, accusing the firm of leaving out key information and making false statements about the mortgages it sold into 17 trusts the year before.

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UBS (UBS) is on trial in Manhattan federal court. According to Reuters, the civil case was brought by UBS Bancorp (USB) for three trusts. The trusts claim that in their contract with the Swiss banking giant, UBS agreed that the mortgages backing the securities would satisfy certain standards. However, they contend, when it became clear the mortgages were faulty, UBS would not repurchase them. Now, the trusts want back the $2.1B that they lost.

UBS’s legal defense team argued that the lawyers of the trust are assessing the loans from the perspective of “hindsight bias.” They want U.S. District Judge Kevin Catel to evaluate whether when the loans were considered defective at the time that they were issued in 2006 and 2007.

According to the mortgage-backed securities lawsuit, over 17,000 loans were pooled into three trusts, which issued securities granting investors the right to borrower-made payments. The problem was, contend the plaintiffs, over 9,600 of the loans were defective, primarily because of borrower fraud or because they did not meet underwriting requirements. The trusts believe that UBS did not properly vet the loans, which it obtained through shady lenders that would go on to fail.

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A judge has ruled that the $1B mortgage fraud case brought against Credit Suisse (CS) unit DLJ Mortgage Capital can be resubmitted. This ruling reiterated U.S. Bank National Association’s contention that a six-year statute of limitations did not bar its claims, which it brought as a trustee.

In 2015, New York Supreme Court Judge Marcy S. Friedman had dismissed the case because the trustee had not made a repurchase demand of Ameriquest, the loan’s originator, according to the pre-suit requirement. However, she rejected DLJ’s claim that because these conditions were not met prior to the statute of limitations they were time barred. Friedman said that if U.S. National were to refile the case, then the issue of the repurchase demand’s impact on the trustee’s ability to file litigation in this matter would be determined on a “fully developed record.”

U.S. National sued DLJ Mortgage Capital in 2013, accusing the securitizer of not complying with its duty to buyback loans that breached of a number of warranties and representations that DLJ made in a contract presiding over the sale of 4,534 residential mortgage loans. The loans, originated by Ameriquest Mortgage Co., were securitized by the trust, sold by DLJ to investors, and came with multiple assurances about their quality. Such guarantees were supposed to place any risks from faulty mortgages with the originator.

The plaintiff contends that rather than construct a loan pool with quality mortgages, Ameriquest, which is no longer in operation, used faulty loans. As a result, contends U.S. National, the trust lost $227M.

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