March 29, 2014

Bank of America Settles Mortgage Bond Claims with FHFA for $9.3B

Bank of America (BAC) will pay $9.3 billion to settle securities claims that it sold faulty mortgage bonds to Freddie Mac (FMCC) and Fannie Mae (FNMA). The deal, reached with the Federal Housing Finance Agency, includes $3.2 billion in securities that the bank will buy from the housing finance entities and a cash payment of $6.3 billion.

The mortgage bond settlement resolves securities lawsuits against the bank, Countrywide, and Merrill Lynch (MER). FHFA, which regulates both Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, accused Bank of America of misrepresenting the quality of the loans behind residential mortgage-backed securities that the mortgage financing companies purchased between 2005 and 2007.

This is the 10th of 18 securities lawsuits reached by the FHFA over litigation involving around $200 billion in mortgage-backed securities. To date, it has gotten back over $10 billion over such claims.

During the housing boom, Freddie and Fannie bought privately issued securities in the form of investments and became two of the biggest bond investors. The US Treasury was forced to rescue the two entities in 2008 as their mortgage losses grew.

Also, Bank of America and its ex-CEO Kenneth Lewis have settled for $25 million a NY mortgage lawsuit accusing them of deceiving investors about the firm’s acquisition of Merrill Lynch. The state’s Attorney General Eric Schneiderman accused Lewis of hiding Merrill’s growing losses from Bank of America shareholders before the merger vote in 2008 and getting the US government to give over another $20 billion in bailout money by making false claims that he would step out of the merger without the funds. Another defendant, ex-CFO Joe Price, has not settled yet.

NY officials had sued Bank of America, Lewis, and Price under its Martin Act. The US Securities and Exchange Commission also sued the bank over Merrill losses and bonus disclosures. That securities lawsuit was settled for $150 million. Another case, a shareholder class action lawsuit, was settled for $2.43 billion.

Contact our mortgage-backed securities lawyers if you suspect you may have been the victim of securities fraud.

Bank of America to Pay $9.5 Billion to Resolve FHFA Claims, The Wall Street Journal, March 26, 2014


Bank of America to pay $9.3 billion to settle mortgage bond claims, Reuters, March 26, 2014

Federal Housing Finance Agency


More Blog Posts:
$500M MBS Settlement Reached Between Countrywide and Investors, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, May 10, 2013

Bank of America and Countrywide Financial Sued by Allstate over $700M in Bad Mortgage-Backed Securities, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, December 29, 2010

Bank of America’s $8.5B Mortgage Bond Settlement Gets Court Approval, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, January 31, 2014

March 4, 2014

Detroit, MI to Pay UBS and Bank America $85M Over Interest Swaps Settlement

The city of Detroit has agreed to pay Bank of America Corp.’s (BAC) Merrill Lynch (MER) and UBS AG (UBSN) $85 million as part of a settlement to end interest-rate swaps, which taxpayers have had to pay over $200 million for in the last four years. Now, US Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes must decide whether to approve the deal.

The swaps involved are connected to pension obligation bonds that were issued in ’05 and ’06. They were supposed to protect the city from interest rates going up by making banks pay Detroit if the rates went above a certain level. Instead, the rates went down, and Detroit has owed payments each month.

Under the swaps deal, the city owed $288 million. The settlement reduces the amount by 70%, which should help, as Detroit had to file for protection last year over its $18 billion bankruptcy.

The decision by the banks to support the settlement grants the city the legal authority to ask Judge Rhodes to implement its restructuring plan despite creditors’ objections. However, according to Detroit’s legal team, which submitted a in a court filing, the city won’t necessarily choose to exercise that option.

The swaps agreement, however, will liberate more funds so that Detroit has the ability to make more consensual deals with creditors. If a deal had not been reached, the city might sued Bank of America and UBS to protect its casino tax revenues, which are collateral for the interest-rate swaps.

It was just in January that Judge Rhodes rejected another proposed deal. Detroit had proposed to pay $175 million—a 43% reduction from the obligation it owed. Rhodes, however, said the price was too high for the city. However, the judge said that it would be better for the city to settle than get embroiled in expensive litigation. Judge Rhodes had also rejected an earlier proposed agreement, in which the city would have paid $230 million.

Now, seeking Rhodes approval once more, Detroit submitted its filing arguing that the deal with Merrill Lynch Capital Services and UBS could help it gain the federal court approval needed for a plan to leave bankruptcy and deal with its debt.

Please contact The SSEK Partners Group if you suspect that you were the victim of financial fraud. Our securities lawyers work with high net worth individuals and institutional clients.

Detroit reaches settlement over controversial debt deal, USA Today, March 4, 2014

U.S. judge rejects deal to end Detroit rate swap accords, Reuters, January 16, 2014


More Blog Posts:
Detroit Becomes Largest US City to File Bankruptcy Protection, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, July 18, 2013

Lehman Makes Deal with SAP Founder, Frees Up Another $1.8B for Creditors, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, February 27, 2014

Puerto Rico Senate Votes to Sell $3.5B in Bonds, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, February 28, 2014

February 12, 2014

Ex-Bank of America Corp. Executive Enters Guilty Plea in Municipal Bond Rigging Scam

Phillip D. Murphy, an ex-Bank of America Corp. (BAC) executive that used to run the municipal derivatives desk there, has pleaded guilty to wire fraud and conspiracy charges in a muni bond rigging case accusing him of conspiring to bilk the US government and bond investors. In federal court, he admitted to manipulating the bidding process involving investment agreements having to do with municipal bond proceeds.

The illegal activity was self-reported by his former employer. Bank of America has been cooperating with prosecutors that have accused bankers of paying kickbacks to CDR Financial Products to fix bids on investment contracts purchased by local governments. The contracts were bought using money from bond sales.

According to the indictments, from 1998 to 2006, Murphy and CDR officials conspired to up the amount and profitability of investment deals and municipal finance contracts that went to Bank of America. Murphy purportedly won actions for certain contracts after other banks consented to purposely turn in losing bids.

Prosecutors say that brokers that took care of the bidding gave insider information to bankers who were favored. “Fees” for derivative transactions, which were actually kickbacks, were paid.

For example, in 2001, CDR set it up for another bank to turn in a bid that was certain to lose so that “financial institution A,” which is how the company was referred to in the indictment, won an investment contract for J. David Gladstone Institutes. Murphy, in return, paid CDR a $70K kickback that was supposedly a fee connected to a swap that was not related to the deal for a contract with J. David Gladstone Institutes.

David Rubin, the founder of CDR, has also pleaded guilty in connection to the bid rigging scam.

Please contact our securities lawyers at The SSEK Partners Group if you suspect that you were the victim of municipal bond fraud.

Ex-BofA Executive Pleads Guilty in Muni Bond Rigging Case, Bloomberg, February 10, 2013

David Rubin Pleads Guilty in Muni-Bond Trial, The Wall Street Journal, December 30, 2011


More Blog Posts:
$500M MBS Settlement Reached Between Countrywide and Investors, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, May 10, 2013

Standard and Poor’s Reduces Puerto Rico Obligation Debt to Junk Status, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, February 6, 2014

Three Ex-GE Bankers Convicted of Municipal Bond Bid Rigging Are Set Free, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, December 12, 2013

January 31, 2014

Bank of America’s $8.5B Mortgage Bond Settlement Gets Court Approval

A judge has approved an $8.5B mortgage-bond settlement between Bank of America (BAC) and investors. The agreement should settle most of the bank’s liability from when it acquired Countrywide Financial Corp. while the financial crisis was happening and resolves contentions that the loans behind the bonds were not up to par in quality as promised. Included among the 22 investors in the mortgage-bond deal: Pacific Investment Management Co., BlackRock Inc. (BLK), and MetLife Inc. (MET.N). Under the agreement, investors can still go ahead with their loan-modification claims.

The trustee for over 500 residential mortgage-securitization trusts is Bank of New York Mellon Corp. (BK), which had turned in a petition seeking approval for the deal nearly three years ago for investors who had about $174 million of mortgage-backed securities from Countrywide. Now, Judge Barbara Kapnick of the New York State Supreme Court Justice has approved the mortgage-bond deal.

Kapnick believes that the trustee had, for the most part, acted in good faith and reasonably when determining the settlement and whether it was in investors’ best interests. However, she is allowing plaintiffs to continue with their claims related to loan-modification because, she says, Bank of New York Mellon Corp “abused its discretion” on the matter in that even though the trustee purportedly knew about the issue, it didn’t evaluate the possible claims. Also, the judge said that it makes sense for this one-time payment because it was evident that Bank of New York Mellon was worried Countrywide wouldn’t be able to pay a judgment in the future that came close to the $8.5 billion settlement.

Home loans securitized into bonds played a big role in the housing bubble that helped push the US into its largest recession since in decades. As the housing market failed and securities dissolved, investments banks and lenders also were dragged into the crisis.

It was Countrywide as the top securities lender that created $405 billion of the $3.04 trillion of bonds that were sold in the few years leading up to the financial meltdown. Meantime, Bank of America put out $76.9 billion of bonds and Merrill Lynch (MER) and First Franklin issued about $116 billion collectively.

American International Group (AIG), one of the bigger investor in the mortgage bonds, is part of a small group that opposed the settlement with Bank of America. AIG attorneys claim that the settlement shortchanges investors and the trustee should have done more to get a greater sum of money from BofA. The insurer contends that $8.5 billion is not much compared to how much was actually lost.

If you are an institutional investor that has suffered bond or mortgage-backed securities losses, contact The SSEK Partners Group today to speak with one of our securities lawyers.

Court approves Bank of America's $8.5 billion mortgage settlement, Reuters, January 31, 2014

Bank of America Settlement on Bonds That Soured Is Approved, NY Times, January 31, 2014


More Blog Posts:
$500M MBS Settlement Reached Between Countrywide and Investors, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, May 10, 2013

FDIC Objects to Bank of America’s Proposed $8.5B Settlement Over Mortgage-Backed Securities, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, August 30, 2011

Bank of America’s Countrywide to Pay $17.3M RMBS Settlement to Massachusetts, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, December 30, 2013

January 21, 2014

Detroit, MI Can’t Pay $165M to UBS & Bank of America For Swaps Deal, Rules Judge

A bankruptcy judge says is refusing to grant the city of Detroit, MI permission to pay $165 million to Bank of America (BA) and UBS AG (UBS) to end an interest-rate swaps deal that taxpayers have been paying $202 million for since 2009. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes says the payment, in addition to a fee of over $4 million, is too costly for the beleaguered city.

Rhodes said he doesn’t believe it is in the city’s best interests to make this deal. Detroit filed the biggest municipal bankruptcy in US history due to its $18 billion debt. Prior to seeking bankruptcy protection, the city had arrived at a deal to terminate the swaps contract that it had signed with Bank of America unit Merrill Lynch (MER), UBS, and SBS Financial Products Co. for $230 million.

According to their 2009 deal, the banks are entitled to seek control of Detroit’s casino taxes, which the city pledged as cash to UBS and Bank of America. Now, Detroit may have to submit an emergency motion asking the court to protect the cash so that the banks don’t take the funds.

UBS and Bank of America contend that their swaps claims are protected under the US Bankruptcy Code’s safe harbor provisions, which make it easier for creditors to seize certain collateral when a debtor goes into bankruptcy.

Detroit wanted to buy out the swaps contracts to avoid a lawsuit and free up the casino taxes, which is a huge source of revenue for it. Last month, a deal was reached to terminate the contract for $165 million. The city asked Rhodes to approve a $285 million loan for this, but the court only approved $120 million, which are to go toward city services.

The SSEK Partners Group is an institutional investor fraud law firm that represents institutions and high net worth individuals with fraud claims against members of the securities industry. Contact our securities lawyers today.

Detroit's available cash drying up more slowly than feared: report, Chicago Tribune/Reuters, January 21, 2014

Detroit files for bankruptcy protection, USA Today, July 18, 2013


More Blog Posts:

Detroit Becomes Largest US City to File Bankruptcy Protection, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, July 18, 2013

RCS Capital Corp to Buy Brokerage Firm J.P. Turner for $27 Million & Cetera Financial for $1.15B, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, January 18, 2014

How UBS Breached Its Duties with Puerto Rico Bond Funds, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, January 17, 2014

December 30, 2013

Bank of America’s Countrywide to Pay $17.3M RMBS Settlement to Massachusetts

According to Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, Countrywide Securities Corp. (CFC) will pay $17 million to settle residential mortgage backed securities claims. The settlement includes $6 million to be paid to the Commonwealth and $11.3 million to investors with the Pension Reserves Investment Management Board. Countrywide is a Bank of America (BAC) unit.

Coakley’s office was the first in the US to start probing and pursuing Wall Street securitization firms for their involvement in the subprime mortgage crisis. Other RMBS settlements Massachusetts has reached include: $34M from JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), $36M from Barclays Bank (ADR), $52 million from Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), $102 million from Morgan Stanley (MS), and $60 million from Goldman Sachs. (GS).

Meantime, a federal judge is expected to rule soon on how much Bank of America will pay in a securities fraud verdict related to the faulty mortgages that Countrywide sold investors. A jury had found the bank and ex-Countrywide executive Rebecca Mairone liable for defrauding Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae via the sale of loans through that banking unit. The US government wants Bank of America to pay $863.6 million in damages. Mairone denies any wrongdoing.

The case focused on "High Speed Swim Lane," a mortgage lending process that rewarded employees for the volume of loans produced rather than the quality. Checkpoints that should have made sure the loans were solid were eliminated.

In other recent Countrywide news, a federal judge has given final approval to Bank of America’s $500 million settlement with investors who say the unit misled them, which is why they even invested in high-risk mortgage debt. A number of investors, including union and public pension funds, said they were given offering documents about home loans backing the securities that they purchased and that the content of this paperwork was misleading. They contend that a lot of securities came with high credit ratings that ended up falling to “junk status” as conditions in the market deteriorated.

This payout is the biggest thus far to resolve federal class action securities litigation involving mortgage-backed securities. The second largest was the $315 million reached with Merrill Lynch (MER), which is also a Bank of America unit. That agreement was approved in 2012.

Also, Bank of America was recently named the defendant in a lawsuit filed by the California city of Los Angeles over allegedly discriminatory lending practices that the plaintiff says played a part in causing foreclosures. LA is also suing Citigroup (C) and Wells Fargo (WFC).

The city says that Bank of America offered “predatory” loan terms that led to discrimination against minority borrowers. This resulted in foreclosures that caused the City’s property-tax revenues to decline. BofA, Wells Fargo, and Citibank have said that the claims are baseless.

AG Coakley Announces $11 Million Payment to State Pension Fund From Settlement with Countrywide Securities Corporation, Mass.gov, December 30, 2013

Bank of America's record $500 million accord over Countrywide wins approval, Chicago Tribune, December 6, 2013

U.S. seeks $864 million from Bank of America after fraud verdict, Reuters, November 9, 2013

Bank of America Added to Los Angeles's Lawsuit, The Wall Street Journal, December 6, 2013


More Blog Posts:
$500M MBS Settlement Reached Between Countrywide and Investors, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, May 10, 2013

New Jersey Files Securities Lawsuit Against Credit Suisse Over $10B in MBS Sales, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, December 20, 2013

AIG Drops RMBS Lawsuit Against New York Fed, Fights Bank of America’s $8.5B MBS Settlement, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, June 5, 2013

December 14, 2013

Fannie Mae Sues UBS, Bank of America, Credit Suisse, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, & Deutsche Bank, & Others for $800M Over Libor

Fannie Mae is suing nine banks over their alleged collusion in manipulating interest rates involving the London Interbank Offered Rate. The defendants are Bank of America (BAC), JPMorgan Chase (JPM), Credit Suisse, UBS (UBS), Deutsche Bank (DB), Citigroup (C), Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays, & Rabobank. The US government controlled-mortgage company wants over $800M in damages.

Regulators here and in Europe have been looking into claims that a lot of banks manipulated Libor and other rate benchmarks to up their profits or seem more financially fit than they actually were. In its securities fraud lawsuit, Fannie Mae contends that the defendants made representations and promises regarding Libor’s legitimacy that were “false” and that this caused the mortgage company to suffer losses in mortgages, swaps, mortgage securities, and other transactions. Fannie May believes that its losses in interest-rate swaps alone were about $332 million.

UBS, Barclays, Rabobank, and Royal Bank of Scotland have already paid over $3.6 billion in fines to settle with regulators and the US Department of Justice to settle similar allegations. The banks admitted that they lowballed their Libor quotes during the 2008 economic crisis so they would come off as more creditworthy and healthier. Individual traders and brokers have also been charged.

Libor
Libor is used to establish interest rates on student loans, derivatives, mortgages, credit card, car loans, and other matters and underpins hundreds of trillions of dollars in transactions. The rates are determined through a process involving banks being polled on borrowing costs in different currencies over different timeframes. Responses are then averaged to determine the rates that become the benchmark for financial products.

Also a defendant in Fannie Mae’s securities case is the British Bankers’ Association, which oversees the process of Libor rate creation.

Earlier this year, government-backed Freddie Mac (FMCC) sued over a dozen large banks and the British Bankers’ Association also for allegedly manipulating interest rates and causing it to lose money on interest-rates swaps. Defendants named by the government-backed home loan mortgage corporation included Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, and UBS.

Freddie Mac Sues Big Banks, The Wall Street Journal, March 19, 2013

Fannie Mae Sues Banks for $800 Million Over Libor Rigging, Bloomberg, November 1, 2013


More Blog Posts:
Sonoma County Files Securities Lawsuit Over Libor Banking Debacle, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, July 2, 2013

Barclays LIBOR Manipulation Scam Places Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan Chase, and UBS Under The Investigation Microscope, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, July 16, 2012

November 8, 2013

AIG Settles Ex-Executive’s $274M Lawsuit Over Alleged Failure to Pay Him During 2008 Economic Crisis

American Insurance Group (AIG) and one of its ex-executives, Kevin Fitzpatrick, have reached a settlement deal over his $274 million lawsuit against the insurer. Fitzpatrick, the former president of the AIG Global Real Estate Investment Corp. unit, claims that his then-employer would not pay him during the 2008 economic crisis. The insurer’s refusal to pay occurred not long after the US government said yes to the first part of what would turn into a $182 billion bailout.

Fitzpatrick, who worked for AIG for 22 years, said that AIG breached agreements it had with him and entities under his control. He claims the agreements entitled him to a share of profits made on the insurer’s real estate investments but that on October 2008 AIG stopped paying him and others who were entitled to profit distributions. Fitzpatrick then quit.

Fitzpatrick sued in 2009, claiming that AIG owed him $274 million and that he wanted interest and punitive damages, which is right around the time that the insurer was trying to get past public disapproval over $165 million in bonuses that were paid to employees in the AIG Financial Products unit. That is the group that handled the complex financial instruments that led to its huge losses.

AIG denied wrongdoing and said that Fitzpatrick was paid what he was owed. The insurer contended that Fitzpatrick actually was fired and that he stole data that was confidential and belonged to the company.

In other AIG-related news, a district court judge just threw out a shareholder lawsuit accusing Bank of America (BAC) of not telling them that the insurer was planning to sue the bank with a $10 billion fraud lawsuit. AIG accused Bank of America of misrepresenting the quality of more than $28 million of MBSs that AIG bought from the latter and its Countrywide and Merrill Lynch (MER) units.

Also, there are reports that AIG might file mortgage-backed securities case against Morgan Stanley (MS) over $3.7 billion of MBS.

Former AIG Real Estate Executive Settles $274 Million Pay Case, Businessweek, November 6, 2013

Morgan Stanley Says AIG May Sue Over Mortgage-Linked Investments, Bloomberg, November 4, 2013

Bank of America wins dismissal of lawsuit on AIG disclosures, Reuters, November 4, 2013


AIG Sued by Its Own Executive as Tragedy Turns to Farce
, CBS, December 10, 2009


More Blog Posts:
Judge Dismisses Shareholder Lawsuit Suing Bank of America For Allegedly Concealing AIG Fraud Case, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, November 6, 2013
Stakeholders With $55M Securities Fraud Case Against Government Over AIG Bailout Get Class Action Certification, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, March 19, 2013

AIG Wants to Stop Former CEO Greenberg From Naming It as a Defendant in Derivatives Lawsuit Against the US, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, April 13, 2013

Continue reading "AIG Settles Ex-Executive’s $274M Lawsuit Over Alleged Failure to Pay Him During 2008 Economic Crisis" »

November 6, 2013

Judge Dismisses Shareholder Lawsuit Suing Bank of America For Allegedly Concealing AIG Fraud Case

A judge has thrown out a securities lawsuit by shareholders accusing Bank of America Corp. (BAC) of concealing that insurer AIG (AIG) intended to file a $10 billion fraud case against it. U.S. District Judge John Koeltl in Manhattan said that BofA and four of its officers were not obligated to reveal in advance that the lawsuit was pending or that it was a large one.

AIG filed its securities fraud lawsuit against Bank of America in 2011. The insurer claimed that the bank misrepresented the quality of over $28 billion of mortgage-backed securities it purchased not just from the bank but also from its Merrill Lynch (MER) and Countrywide units. On the day that the complaint was filed, shares of Bank of America dropped 20.3% and Standard & Poor’s revoked the tripe-A credit rating it had issued.

The shareholder plaintiffs claim that the bank’s officers, including Chief Executive Brian Moynihan, knew about the MBS fraud case six months before the lawsuit was submitted and they should have given them advance warning.

Judge John Koeltl, however, said that the specifics about the securities case did not materially differ from what Bank of America already disclosed in its mortgage exposures. He also determined that the bank did not issue inaccurate or incomplete statements.

AIG’s mortgage-backed securities lawsuit is still pending.

Meantime, the media is reporting that the AIG may be getting ready to file another MBS fraud case, this one against Morgan Stanley (MS). The case would be over the $3.7 billion of mortgage securities that the bank sponsored and underwrote between 2005 to 2007 that AIG then bought. The insurer has submitted a regulatory filing about its plans to possibly file. AIG ended a “tolling agreement” with the firm that would have allowed them to resolve their disagreement outside a courtroom.

Our mortgage-backed securities lawyers represent institutional and individual investors that have sustained financial losses because of securities fraud. Contact our MBS fraud law firm today.

Judge Dismisses Suit Against Bank of America For Not Disclosing AIG Claims, Insurance Journal, November 4, 2013

AIG may sue Morgan Stanley over mortgage securities: SEC filing, Reuters, November 4, 2013


More Blog Posts:
Why did UBS Financial Advisors Recommend Muni Bonds to Elderly and Retired Investors?, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, November 6, 2013

Two Investment Advisers Sue Twitter for Secondary Market Fraud, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, November 5, 2013

JPMorgan’s Admission to CFTC of “Reckless” Trading Could Lead to More Securities Fraud Case, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, November 4, 2013

August 17, 2013

SEC and DOJ Sue Bank of America Over Alleged $850M RMBS Fraud

Bank of America (BAC) and two subsidiaries are now facing SEC charges for allegedly bilking investors in an residential mortgage-backed securities offering that led to close to $70M in losses and about $50 million in anticipated losses in the future. The US Department of Justice also has filed its securities lawsuit over the same allegations.

In its securities lawsuit, submitted in U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, the Securities and Exchange Commission contends that the bank, Bank of America Mortgage Securities (BOAMS) and Banc of America Securities LLC, which is now known as Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, conducted the RMBS offering, referred to as the the BOAMS 2008-A and valued at $855 million, in 2008. The securities was sold and offered as “prime securitization suitable for the majority of conservative RMBS investors.

However, according to the regulator, Bank of America misled investors about the risks and the mortgages’ underwriting quality while misrepresenting that the mortgage loans backing the RMBS were underwritten in a manner that conformed with the bank’s guidelines. In truth, claims the SEC, the loans included income statements that were not supported, appraisals that were not eligible, owner occupancy-related misrepresentations, and evidence that mortgage fraud was involved. Also, says the regulator, the ratio for original-combined-loan-to-value and debt-to-income was not calculated properly on a regular basis and, even though materially inaccurate, it was provided to the public.

The Commission believes that because there were a material number of loans that were not in compliance with the bank’s underwriting guidelines and concentration of risky wholesale loans were not proportionate, BOAMS 2008-A sustained an 8.05 percent cumulative net loss rate through June of this year, which is the greatest loss of rate of any BOAMS securitization, comparably speaking, and this violated of the Securities Act of 1933.

As for the Justice Department’s RMBS fraud case, which is also a civil suit, the government says that not only did Bank of America lie to investor about the risks, but also it made false statements after purposely not conducting appropriate due diligence and also including in the securitization high-risk mortgages of a disproportionate quantity that were originated via third party mortgage brokers.

This securities lawsuit is part of President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force’s RMBS Working Group’s ongoing initiatives to target misconduct involving this section of the market. U.S. Attorney Tompkins says that now, Bank of America will have to deal with consequences arising from its alleged actions.

The SSEK Partners Group helps institutional investors and others recover their RMBS fraud losses. Contact us today to request your free case assessment. Our securities attorneys have helped thousands of investors recoup their investment losses.

SEC Charges Bank of America With Fraud in RMBS Offering, SEC, August 6, 2013

Department of Justice Sues Bank of America for Defrauding Investors in Connection with Sale of Over $850 Million of Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities, DOJ, August 6, 2013


More Blog Posts:
Citigroup Must Pay $11M Claimant for Royal Bank of Scotland Investment Losses, Says FINRA Arbitration Panel, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, August 7, 2013

Texas Securities Case: SEC Alleges Ponzi Scam Involving Virtual Currency Bitcoin, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, July 28, 2013

Mandatory Securities Arbitration vs. Court? The Debate Rages Past the Quarter-Century Mark, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, July 4, 2013

August 15, 2013

Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase Among Banks Sued by Danish Pension Funds in Credit Default Swaps Lawsuit

In U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Danish pension funds (and their investment manager) Unipension Fondsmaeglerselskab, MP Pension-Pensionskassen for Magistre & Psykologer, Arkitekternes Pensionskasse, and Pensionskassen for Jordbrugsakademikere & Dyrlaeger are suing 12 banks accusing them of conspiring to take charge of access and pricing in the credit derivatives markets. They are claiming antitrust violations while contending that the defendants acted unreasonably to hold back competitors in the credit default swaps market.

The funds believe that the harm suffered by investors as a result was “tens of billions of dollars” worth. They want monetary damages and injunctive relief.

According to the Danish pension funds' credit default swaps case, the defendants inflated profits by taking control of intellectual property rights in the CDS market, blocking would-be exchanges’ entry, and limiting client access to credit-default-swaps prices, and

This securities case comes four years after the US Justice Department acknowledged that it had begun an investigation into possible anticompetitive activities involving credit derivatives clearing, and trading (a probe that is ongoing) and just a few months after the Sheet Metal Workers Local No. 33 Cleveland District Pension Plan sued the banks, Markit, and ISDA also for allegedly taking control of the CDS market, which it says resulted in customers being overcharged some $7 billion annually. The plaintiff contends that there may be billions of dollars in damages and it wants treble damages. Last month, it was the European Commission's turn to claim that 13 banks, ISDA, and Markit worked together to stop CDSs from being able to trade on open exchanges.

If you think you may have been the victim of securities fraud involving credit default swaps, you should speak with one of our experienced CDS fraud lawyers today.

There are over a dozen defendants in the Danish pension funds' CDS fraud case including:

J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. (JPM)
Citigroup Inc. (C)
Morgan Stanley (MS)
Bank of America Corp. (BAC)
• Credit Suisse Group AG (CS)
Deutsche Bank AG (DB)
UBS AG (UBS)
• Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC (RBS)
• Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS)
• Markit Group Ltd, a financial data provider
• International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA)

Pensions Sue Banks Over Credit-Default Swaps, Wall Street Journal, July 12, 2013

Danish funds sue banks in U.S. for blocking CDS exchange-trading, Reuters/Yahoo, July 12, 2013


More Blog Posts:
US Will Likely Arrest Two Ex-JPMorgan Chase Employees Over Trading Losses Related to the London Whale Debacle, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, August 10, 2013

Morgan Stanley Reports a Possible $1.7B in Mortgage-Backed Securities Losses, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, August 16, 2011

8/31/11 is Deadline for Opting Out of $100M Oppenheimer Mutual Funds Class Action Settlement, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, August 17, 2011

July 2, 2013

Sonoma County Files Securities Lawsuit Over Libor Banking Debacle

Sonoma County, CA is suing Citigroup (C), JPMorgan (JPM), Bank of America (BAC), UBS (UBS), Barclays (BCS), and a number of other former and current LIBOR members over the infamous international-rate fixing scandal that it claims caused it to suffer substantial financial losses. The County’s securities lawsuit contends that the defendants made billions of dollars when they understated and overstated borrowing costs and artificially established interest rates.

Sonoma County is one of the latest municipalities in California to sue over what it claims was rate manipulation that led to lower interest payments on investments linked to the London Interbank Offered Rate. Also seeking financial recovery over the LIBOR banking scandal are the Regents of the University of California, San Mateo County, San Diego Association of Governments, East Bay Municipal Utility District, City of Richmond, City of Riverside, San Diego County, and others.

The County of Sonoma is alleging several causes of action, including unjust enrichment, fraud, and antitrust law violations involving transactions that occurred between 2007 and 2010, a timeframe during which Barclays already admitted to engaging in interest manipulation. The county invested $96 million in Libor-type investments in 2007 and $61 million in 2008. Jonathan Kadlec, the Assistant Treasurer at Sonoma County, says that an investigation is ongoing to determine how much of a financial hit was sustained. Kadlec supervises an investment pool that is valued at about $1.5 billion for the county. He said that LIBOR-type investments, which involve floating securities with interests that are index-based, make up a small portion of the pool.

Already, three LIBOR members have paid over $2.5 billion in penalties over the LIBOR rate-fixing debacle. Earlier this year, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) consented to pay $610 million, and last year, UBS consented to pay over $1.5 million while Barclays said it would pay $450 million.

LIBOR
The London Interbank Offered Rate is the global benchmark interest rate for establishing short-term interest rates on financial instruments ranging from sophisticated municipal derivative investments to car loans. The British Banker’s Association sets LIBOR daily. The benchmark interest rate is determined according to the average of the interest rate that each LIBOR member bank says it can borrow from the other bank members. Until the manipulation among LIBOR members was discovered, a member bank’s interbank borrowing rate was considered a mirror of its credit worthiness.

In 2011, regulators from the US, UK, Japan, and Switzerland said they would investigate LIBOR rate manipulation influencing financial markets globally. Banks that were members of LIBOR were accused of manipulating LIBOR to up their profits and report borrowing rates that were suppressed to make them appear to be in greater financial health.

Please contact our LIBOR Fraud lawyers at SSEK Partners Group today.

Sonoma County joins suit over LIBOR rate setting, North Bay Business Journal, June 28, 2013

The County of Sonoma, California Files Lawsuit Against Major Banks for Libor Interest Rate Manipulation, County of Sonoma, June 28, 2013


More Blog Posts:
CBOE Will Pay $6M Penalty Over SEC Charges Alleging Failure to Enforce Trading Rules, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, June 12, 2013

AIG Drops RMBS Lawsuit Against New York Fed, Fights Bank of America’s $8.5B MBS Settlement, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, June 5, 2013

FINRA Orders Wells Fargo & Banc of America’s Merrill Lynch Ordered to Pay $5.1M for Floating-Rate Bank Loan Funds Sales, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, June 4, 2013

June 5, 2013

AIG Drops RMBS Lawsuit Against New York Fed, Fights Bank of America’s $8.5B MBS Settlement

American International Group (AIG) and Maiden Lane II dismissing lawsuit against the Federal Reserve Bank of New York regarding the $182.3 billion financial bailout that the insurer received during the 2008 economic crisis. In dispute was whether AIG still had the right to pursue a lawsuit over residential mortgage-backed securities losses and if the company had moved $18 billion of litigation claims to Maiden Lane, which is a New York Fed-created entity.

An AIG spokesperson said that in the wake of a recent ruling by a district judge in California that the company did not assign $7.3 billion of the claims to Maiden Lane, both are dropping their action without prejudice. This means that AIG can now pursue Bank of America (BAC) for these claims, which is what the insurer wants to do.

Bank of America had said that AIG could not sue it over the allegedly fraudulent MBS because the latter transferred that right when the New York Fed bought the instruments in question 2008. However, according to Judge Mariana R. Pfaelzer, even if the New York Fed meant for Maiden Lane II to have these claims, that intention was not made clear.

On Tuesday, in New York State Supreme Court, the insurer argued that the proposed $8.5 billion settlement reached between the bank and investors in MBS from Countrywide Financial Corp. is not enough. The judge there is trying to determine whether to approve the settlement, reached with investors who claimed that the firm had misrepresented the mortgages backing the securities.

AIG is one of a number of entities that oppose the settlement. At the hearing, one of its lawyers questioned why the settlement was merely $8.5 billion when investors initially asked for $50 billion.

AIG also is arguing that there may be a conflict of interest with those that arrived at the proposed settlement amount. The insurer is questioning whether trustee Bank of New York Mellon (BK), which does a lot of its trustee business with Bank of America, did a good enough job of researching the risks involving successor liability and investigating the loan files. Bank of NY Mellon also is the trustee for 530 trusts that are holding the securities under dispute. Another investor supporting the current proposed settlement is BlackRock Inc, which also has a strategic relationship with the bank.

Meantime, the attorney who negotiated the $8.5 billion proposed settlement between BofA 22 institutional investors says that not only is this the biggest settlement in the history of private litigation, but also it is worth almost two times as much as Countrywide, which is valued at $4.8 billion.

AIG argues against $8.5 billion settlement with BofA, Reuters, June 4, 2013

Court allows AIG to sue Bank of America for fraud, The Boston Globe, May 8, 2013


More Blog Posts:
AIG Wants to Stop Former CEO Greenberg From Naming It as a Defendant in Derivatives Lawsuit Against the US, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, April 13, 2013

Bank of New York Mellon Corp. Must Contend with Pension Fund Claims Over Countrywide Mortgage-Backed Securities, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, April 10, 2012

Bank of America Subpoenaed by Massachusetts Over Bryn Mawr CLO II Ltd. and LCM VII Ltd. CLOs that Cost Investors $150 Million, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, February 14, 2012

February 20, 2013

New York Fed Bailed Out Bank of America Over Mortgage-Backed Securities Sold to AIG

Recently, a secret deal came to light involving the Federal Reserve Bank of New York bailing out Bank of America (BAC) that released the latter from all legal claims involving mortgage-backed securities losses that the former obtained when the government rescued American International Group (AIG) in 2008. Some believe that the bank was allowed to abscond responsibility even as AIG sought to recover $7 billion that was loss on these same MBSs.

According to The New York Times, as part of its settlement with BofA, the New York Fed obtained $43 million in a securities dispute involving two of the mortgage securities. For no compensation, the bank was released from all other legal claims.

The roots of this settlement can be traced back to 2008 when the government intervened to rescue AIG . Part of that aid involved AIG selling mortgage securities to Maiden Lane II, which the New York Fed oversees. At the time, the insurer was losing money from toxic mortgages, many of which came from BofA. AIG obtained $20.8 billion for securities valued at $39.2 billion.

In 2011, AIG sued BofA for securities fraud in attempted to obtain $10 billion in damages--$7 billion from the Maiden Lane II-related securities. Meantime, Bank of America argued that AIG had no grounds for suing it on these securities, noting that possession of the entitlement to bring a legal lawsuit against the bank had passed to Maiden Lane. New York Fed, which controlled Maiden Lane II, never brought securities claims against BofA.

However, AIG contended that under New York law, which Maiden Lain II is subject to, an entity must explicitly transfer the right to sue for fraud and that the deal between AIG and the New York Fed never specified this switch. AIG then filed a separate MBS lawsuit against Maiden Lane II in New York.

Now, AIG’s $10 billion fraud lawsuit against BofA has gone to federal court. Federal Judge Mariana R. Pfaelzer in California’s central district will rule on who is the claims’ owner.

While the New York Fed agreed in late 2011 that AIG is entitled to seek damages on instruments that it sold to Maiden Lane II, it is now aiding BofA in the latter’s legal fight against AIG, even providing a declaration that Maiden Lane II was the only one entitled to sue. Some, however, are asking why if the New York Fed meant for Maiden Lane II to possess ownership of the right to sue Bank of America it didn’t try to file its own claim for taxpayers rather than discharging the bank from liability. Meantime, the question of whether BofA should be liable for wrongdoing committed by Countrywide during economic crisis has still not been answered.

Don’t Blink, or You’ll Miss Another Bailout, The New York TImes, February 16, 2013

AIG sues NY Fed over right to


More Blog Posts:
Former Jeffries Director Charged with Securities Fraud Crimes and Sued By SEC Over Alleged Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, February 11, 2013

McGraw Hills, Moody’s, & Standard & Poor’s Can’t Be Held Liable by Ohio Pension Funds for Allegedly Flawed MBS Ratings, Affirms Sixth Circuit, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, December 20, 2012

Investment Fraud Lawsuit Against BlackRock Over Exchange-Traded Funds Could Shed More Light on Securities Lending, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, February 18, 2013

October 24, 2012

Bank of America Corp. Sued for Over $1B By US Government For Mortgage Fraud Against Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae

The United States is suing Bank of America Corporation (BAC) for more than $1 billion over alleged mortgage fraud involving the sale of defective loans to Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. The federal government contends that Countrywide, and then later Bank of America, following its acquisition of the former, executed the “Hustle,” a loan origination process intended to swiftly process loans without the use of quality checkpoints. This allegedly resulted in thousands of defective and fraudulent residential mortgage loans, which were sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, that later defaulted, leading to innumerable foreclosures and over $1 billion in losses.

The US claims that between 2007 and 2009, mortgage company Countrywide Financial Corp. got rid of checks and quality control on loans, including opting not to use underwriters, giving unqualified personnel incentives to cut corners, and hiding defects, and then proceeded to falsely keep claiming that these loans were qualified to be insured by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. The result, says U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara, was that taxpayers were left to foot the bill from these “disastrously bad loans.”

The Hustle was initiated by Countrywide in 2007 via its Full Spectrum Lending Division during a rise in loan default rates and while, in an effort to reduce risk, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae were getting tougher about requirements for loan purchases. In addition to eliminating key quality control and check procedures, Hustle allegedly depended on inexperienced and unqualified loan processers to handle underwriting duties, while giving them financial incentives to place quantity over quality.

The government contends that although senior management at Full Spectrum Lending were regularly warned that getting rid of toll gates that are supposed to prevent fraud and maintain quality control could lead to disastrous consequences, they allegedly proceeded to continue disregarding such cautions. This meant that Countrywide and Bank of America like knew that the loans they were originating and then selling to the GSEs were defective and/or fraudulent. (The loans that eventually defaulted were a key reason why in September 2008 Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae had to be put into conservatorship under the Federal Housing Finance Agency, pursuant to the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008.)

The US government is filing its mortgage fraud lawsuit under the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989 and the Federal False Claims Act, which prosecutors have been using to take banks to task over alleged mortgage-related wrongdoings. The act can result in triple damages if the government is able to prove that taxpayers were bilked. The securities case was also brought under the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act. This is the first civil fraud case that the US Department of Justice has brought regarding the sale of mortgage loans to Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Sues Bank Of America For Over $1 Billion For Multi-Year Mortgage Fraud Against Government Sponsored Entities Fannie Mae And Freddie Mac, Justice.gov, October 24, 2012

U.S. Sues BofA Over Mortgage Sales, The Wall Street Journal, October 25, 2012


More Blog Posts:
Ex-Bank of America Employee Pleads Guilty to Mortgage Fraud Scam Using Stolen Identities to Buy Homes Not For Sale, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, August 30, 2011

Bank of America to Pay $335M to Countrywide Financial Corp. Borrowers Over Allegedly Discriminating Lending Practices, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, December 21, 2011

JPMorgan Chase Must Pay Oil Heiress’s Trust $18M For Derivatives Investments, Account Mismanagement, and Unsuitable Investment Advice, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, October 12, 2012

April 10, 2012

Bank of New York Mellon Corp. Must Contend with Pension Fund Claims Over Countrywide Mortgage-Backed Securities

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York has decided that investors can sue Bank of New York Mellon (BK) over its role as trustee in Countrywide Financial Corp.’s mortgage-backed securities that they say cost billions of dollars in damages. While Judge William Pauley threw out some of the clams filed in the securities fraud lawsuit submitted by the pension funds, he said that the remaining ones could proceed. The complaint was filed by the Benefit Fund of the City of Chicago, the Retirement Board of the Policemen’s Annuity, and the City of Grand Rapids General Retirement System. The retirement board and Chicago’s benefit fund hold certificates that 25 New York trusts and one Delaware trust had issued, and BNY Mellon is the indentured trustee for both. Pooling and servicing agreements govern how money is allocated to certificate holders.

In Retirement Board of Policemen's Annuity and Benefit Fund of City of Chicago v. Bank of New York Mellon, the plaintiffs are accusing BNYM of ignoring its responsibility as the investors’ trustee. They believe that the bank neglected to review the loan files for mortgages that were backing the securities to make sure that there were no defective or missing documents. The bank also allegedly did not act for investors to ensure that loans having “irregularities” were taken from the mortgage pools. As a result, bondholders sustained massive losses and were forced to experience a great deal of uncertainty about investors’ ownership interest in the mortgage loans. The plaintiffs are saying that it was BNYM’s job to perfect the assignment of mortgages to the trusts, certify that documentation was correct, review loan files, and make sure that the trust’s master servicer executed its duties and remedied or bought back defective loans. Countrywide Home Loans Inc. had originally been master servicer until it merged with Bank of America (BAC).

The district court, in granting its motion, limited the lawsuit to the trusts in which the pension fund had interests. It also held that the fund only claimed “injury in fact” in regards to the trusts in which it held certificates. The court found that the certificates from New York are debt securities and not equity and are covered under the Trust Indenture Act. The plaintiffs not only did an adequate job of pleading that Bank of America and Countrywide were in breach of the PSAs, but also they adequately pleaded that defaults of the PSAs were enough to trigger BNYM’s responsibilities under Sections 315(b) and (c). The court, however, threw out the claims that BNYM violated Section 315(a) by not performing certain duties under the PSAs and certain other agreements.

BNYM says it will defend itself against the claims that remain.

Bank of NY Mellon must face lawsuit on Countrywide, Reuters, April 3, 2012

Judge Rejects Bank Of NY Mellon Motion To Dismiss Countrywide Suit, Fox, April 3, 2012


More Blog Posts:

District Court in Texas Decides that Credit Suisse Securities Doesn’t Have to pay Additional $186,000 Arbitration Award to Luby’s Restaurant Over ARS, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, June 2, 2011

Credit Suisse Group AG Must Pay ST Microelectronics NV $431 Million Auction-Rate Securities Arbitration Award, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, April 5, 2012

Citigroup to Pay $285M to Settle SEC Lawsuit Alleging Securities Fraud in $1B Derivatives Deal, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, October 20, 2011


Continue reading "Bank of New York Mellon Corp. Must Contend with Pension Fund Claims Over Countrywide Mortgage-Backed Securities " »

April 6, 2012

Wirehouses Struggle to Retain Their Share of the High-Net-Worth-Market

With their share of the high-net-worth-market expected to drop down to 42% in 2014 from the 56% peak it reached five years ago, wirehouses are looking to regain their grip. According to Cerulli Associates, Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAC), Wells Fargo (WFC), Morgan Stanley Smith Barney (MS), and UBS (UBS)—essentially, the largest financial firms—will see their portion of the high-net-worth market continue to get smaller. Meantime, because private client groups can now be called the largest high-net-worth services provider, they can expect their hold to continue as they likely accumulate about $2.8 trillion in high-net-worth assets in two years—a 49% market share.

The Cerulli report says that the wirehouses’ reduced share of the market can be attributed to a number of factors, including the fact that high-net-worth investors are allocating their wealth to several advisors at a time. Also, during the economic crisis of 2008, many investors transferred some assets out of the wirehouses. There were also the wirehouse advisers that chose to go independent or enter another channel. In many cases, these advisors’ clients ended up going with them.

The private client groups are the ones that have benefited from this shift away from wirehouses. A main reason for this is that they are considered safer for both advisors that wanted a change and investors who were seeking lower risks.

Also, per the report, there has been healthy growth in the independent advisor industry. The registered investment advisor/multi-family offices grew their assets under management by 18% two years ago. Meantime, during this same time period, wirehouses assets only grew by 2%.

In other wirehouse-related news, beginning summer, ERISA Section 408(b)(2) ‘s new point-of-sale fee disclosure rules will make it harder for these firms to up the fees they charge investors. According to AdvisorOne, as a result, these firms are raising the fees that they charge mutual fund companies instead.

Wirehouses and mutual fund companies usually have a revenue sharing agreement. In exchange for investing their clients’ money in a mutual fund, a wirehouse charges the mutual fund company a fee (this is usually a percentage of every dollar that the client invests). However, in the wake of the upcoming disclosure changes, financial firms have started raising that fee.

For example, according to The Wall Street Journal, at the start of the year, UBS approximately doubled the rate that mutual funds must now pay. The financial firm is seeking up to $15 for every new $10,000 that a clients invests in a mutual fund. Moving forward, this will go up to $20 annually. Morgan Stanley’s new raised rate is $16 a year. It used to charge $13 for stock funds and $10 for bond funds.

Wirehouses are saying that since its the brokerage firms and not the individual financial adviser who gets the separate payment streams, the rate won’t impact the judgment of an adviser when it comes to selecting funds. Such fees paid by mutual funds can impact a financial firm’s bottom line. For example, last year, almost a third of Edward Jones’s $481.8 million in profits came from mutual fund company fees.

Wirehouses raise fees on mutual fund companies, AdvisorOne, April 5, 2012

Wirehouses Battle to Keep Market Share, On Wall Street, March 28, 2012

More Blog Posts:
Institutional Investor Fraud Roundup: SEC Seeks Approval of Settlement with Ex-Bear Stearns Portfolio Managers, Credits Ex-AXA Rosenberg Executive for Help in Quantitative Investment Case; IOSCO Gets Ready for Global Hedge Fund Survey, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, March 29, 2012

Citigroup Ordered by FINRA to Pay $1.2M Over Bond Markups and Markdowns, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, March 27, 2012

FINRA Bars Registered Representatives Accused of Securities Misconduct and Negligence, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, April 5, 2012

Continue reading "Wirehouses Struggle to Retain Their Share of the High-Net-Worth-Market" »

December 21, 2011

Bank of America to Pay $335M to Countrywide Financial Corp. Borrowers Over Allegedly Discriminating Lending Practices

Bank of America Corp. has agreed to a record $335 million settlement to pay back Countrywide Financial Corp. borrowers who were billed more for loans because of their nationality and race, while creditworthiness and other objective criteria took a back seat. All borrowers that were discriminated against qualified to receive mortgage loans under Countrywide’s own underwriting standards.

The settlement is larger than any past fair-lending settlements (totaling $30M) that the US Justice Department has been able to obtain to date. Countrywide was acquired by Bank of America in 2008.

According to the Justice Department, Countrywide charged higher fees and interest rates to over 200,000 Hispanic and black borrowers while directing minorities to more costly subprime mortgages despite the fact that they qualified for prime loans. Meantime, the latter were given to non-Hispanic white borrowers who had similar credit profiles.

Under federal civil rights laws, a lending practice is illegal if it has a negative effect on borrowers that are minorities. The US Justice Department’s complain contends that “steering,” which involves using discrimination to place borrowers in subprime loans, was able to occur because it was Countrywide’s practice to let employees and mortgage brokers place a loan applicant in a subprime loan even when that party qualified for a prime loan. Also, mortgage brokers were allowed to use discretion when asking for exceptions to the underlying guidelines.

Subprime loans usually come with higher-cost conditions, such as exploding adjustable interest rates that can suddenly go up after a couple of years, as well as prepayment penalties. All of this can place a borrower at higher risk of foreclosure and render payments unaffordable.

Per the settlement, Countrywide will have to put in place practices and policies to bar discrimination if it decides to go back to the lending business in the next four years. Also resolved are the Justice Department’s claims that the Bank of America subsidiary violated the Equal Credit Opportunity Act.

Countrywide is accused of using marital status to discriminate against non-applicant spouses of borrowers by trying to get them to sign away their rights to home ownership through quitclaim deeds and other documents that ended up giving the borrowing spouse the interest and legal rights in property held by both of them.

A judge still has to approve the settlement. If it goes through, impacted lenders will get between several hundred to several thousand dollars.

Our securities fraud attorneys represent investors that lost money during the subprime mortgage crisis. If you believe that negligence on the part of a financial professional caused your losses, do not hesitate to contact Shepherd Smith Edwards and Kantas, LTD LLP today.

BofA Agrees Record $335M Fair-Lending Deal, Bloomberg, December 21, 2011

Countrywide Will Settle a Bias Suit, New York Times, December 21, 2011


More Blog Posts:

Federal Home Loan Banks Say Countrywide Financial Corp Mortgage Bond Investors May Be Owed Way More than What $8.5B Securities Settlement with Bank of America Corp. is Offering, Institutional Investors Securities Blog, July 22, 2011

California Investigating Whether Bank of America & Countrywide Financial Used False Pretenses to Sell Mortgage-Backed Securities to Investors, Institutional Investors Securities Blog, October 21, 2011

FDIC Objects to Bank of America’s Proposed $8.5B Settlement Over Mortgage-Backed Securities, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, August 30, 2011

December 6, 2011

Bank of America’s Merrill Lynch Settles for $315 million Class Action Lawsuit Over Mortgage-Backed Securities

Bank of America, Corp. has agreed to pay investors $315 million to settle their class action claim accusing Merrill Lynch of misleading them about the risks involved in investing in mortgage-backed securities. If approved, the proposed settlement would be one of the largest reached over MBS that caused investors major losses when the housing market collapsed. The lead plaintiff in this securities case is the Public Employees' Retirement System of Mississippi pension fund.

The class action lawsuit accused Merrill of misleading investors about $16.5 billion of MBS in 18 offerings that were made between 2006 and 2007. They are claiming possible losses in the billions of dollars. (The offerings occurred before Bank of America bought Merrill.)

The plaintiffs contend that Merrill’s offering documents were misleading. They also believe that the original investment-grade ratings for the securities, which had been backed by loans from Countrywide, IndyMac Bancorp Inc., First Franklin Financial unit, and New Century Financial Corp. were unmerited. Most of these investments were later downgraded to “junk” status.

By agreeing to settle, Bank of America is not admitting to or denying wrongdoing.

This settlement must be approved by US District Judge Jed Rakoff, who just last week rejected the proposed $285M securities settlement between Citigroup Global Markets Inc. and the Securities and Exchange Commission. He ordered that the case be resolved through trial. Rakoff was also the one who refused to approve another proposed Bank of America securities settlement—the one in 2009 with the SEC—for $33 million over misstatements that were allegedly made regarding the purchase of Merrill. Rakoff would later go on to approve the revised settlement of $150 million.

Rakoff has criticized a system that allows financial firms to settle securities fraud allegations against them without having to admit or deny wrongdoing. He also has expressed frustration at the “low” settlements some investment banks have been ordered to pay considering the amount of financial losses suffered by investors.

Our securities fraud lawyers represent individual and institutional clients that sustained losses related to non-traded REITs, private placements, principal protected notes, auction-rate securities, collateralized debt obligations, mortgage-backed securities, reverse convertible bonds, high yield-notes and other financial instruments that were mishandled by broker-dealers, investment advisers, or their representatives. We also work with victims of Ponzi scams, affinity scams, elder financial fraud and other financial schemes.

BofA Merrill unit in $315 mln mortgage settlement, Reuters, December 6, 2011

Public Employees' Retirement System of Mississippi


More Blog Posts:

Citigroup’s $285M Settlement With the SEC Is Turned Down by Judge Rakoff, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, November 28, 2011

Citigroup’s $285M Mortgage-Related CDO Settlement with Raises Concerns About SEC’s Enforcement Practices for Judge Rakoff, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, November 9, 2011

Ex-Lehman Brothers Holdings Chief Executive Defends Request that Insurance Fund Pay Legal Bills, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, October 19, 2011

Continue reading "Bank of America’s Merrill Lynch Settles for $315 million Class Action Lawsuit Over Mortgage-Backed Securities " »

October 22, 2011

California Investigating Whether Bank of America & Countrywide Financial Used False Pretenses to Sell Mortgage-Backed Securities to Investors

Not long after bowing out of talks over a possible $25 billion dollar settlement between state and federal officials and the country’s largest banks (including Bank of America Corp, Citigroup, and JP Morgan Chase & Co.) over alleged foreclosure abuses, California’s Attorney General’s office has subpoenaed BofA as part of its investigation into whether it and subsidiary Countrywide Financial employed false pretenses to get private and institutional investors to purchase risky mortgage-backed securities. By walking out of the negotiations on the grounds that the banks weren’t offering a big enough settlement, the state of California has given itself the option of arriving at a larger settlement.

California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris has called the proposed settlement “inadequate” for the homeowners in her state. She has also has set up a mortgage fraud strike force tasked with investigating all areas of mortgage fraud.

Countrywide is credited with playing a role in the housing boom and its later collapse because of subprime loans it gave clients with poor/no credit histories, mortgages that let borrowers pay such a small amount that their loan balances went up instead of down, and “liar” loans that were issued without assets and income being confirmed. Also, a lot of the most high-risk loans were bundled up to support private-label securities that became highly toxic for investors and banks.

Meantime, Federal and state officials are trying to get California to rejoin the larger talks. Just this week, they presented the possibility of helping troubled creditworthy owners refinance their loans. California’s involvement is key for any deal because the state so many borrowers that owe more than the value of their homes, are in foreclosure, or are running behind on mortgages.

New York, too, has backed out of the group—a move that proved to be another blow for negotiations, as well as for the Obama Administration. Officials from other states, such as Nevada, Delaware, Minnesota, Massachusetts, and Kentucky, have also expressed worry about the breadth of the settlement and whether all potential misconduct has been investigated.

With its acquisition of Countrywide in 2008, BofA has sustained high losses over settlements as a result of its subsidiary’s loans. According to the Los Angeles Times, these settlements include:

• A promise to forgive up to $3 billion in principal for Massachusetts Countrywide borrowers
• $600 million to former Countrywide shareholders
• Billions of dollars to Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae over buybacks of bad home loans
• $8.5 billion to institutional investors over the repurchase of Countrywide mortgage-backed bonds
• $5.5 billion reserved for mortgage bond investors with similar claims

California reportedly subpoenas BofA over toxic securities, Los Angeles Times, October 20, 2011

California Pulls Out of Foreclosure Talks, Wall Street Journal, October 1, 2011


More Blog Posts:
$63 Million Mortgage-Backed Securities Lawsuit Against Bank of America is Second One Filed by Western and Southern Life Insurance Co. Against the Financial Firm, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, August 29, 2011

Federal Home Loan Banks Say Countrywide Financial Corp Mortgage Bond Investors May Be Owed Way More than What $8.5B Securities Settlement with Bank of America Corp. is Offering, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, July 22, 2011

Bank of America and Countrywide Financial Sued by Allstate over $700M in Bad Mortgaged-Backed Securities, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, December 29, 2010

Continue reading "California Investigating Whether Bank of America & Countrywide Financial Used False Pretenses to Sell Mortgage-Backed Securities to Investors" »

September 8, 2011

Nevada Attorney General Goes After Bank of America for Allegedly Violating Countrywide Fraud Settlement

Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto is accusing Bank of America of violating its fraud settlement regarding Countrywide Financial Corp. She is asking the court to “terminate our consent judgment” because she says the violation is “such a material breach.”

Masto claims that instead of honoring the terms of their agreement, Bank of America has:

• Continued to take part in fraudulent activities that allow contracts to stay in place
• Gone back on its promise to lower interest rates when revising the loans of buyers in trouble and instead has raised them.
• Failed to give qualified homeowners the promised loan modifications
• Proceeded with foreclosures even though modification requests by borrowers were still pending
• Not met the 60-day requirement to grant new loan terms

Masto says that numerous complaints have been submitted to her office over modified mortgages that come with new contracts that are more expensive than what was originally stated. Ending Nevada’s participation in the settlement agreement would let the state file a securities lawsuit against the bank over its allegedly questionably practices.

Countrywide, which was acquire by Bank of America, settled lawsuits with a number of states, including Nevada over what they contend was predatory lending practices. To settle the complaints, the bank promised to designate $8.4 billion as direct loan relief, waive tens of millions of dollars in prepayment penalties and late fees, put aside money to help people in foreclosure, help 400,000 borrowers with financial relief, and suspend foreclosure on borrowers that were delinquent and had the most high risk loans.

Unfortunately, in Nevada, where 262,622 Countrywide loans were originated, foreclosure issues piled up, as did complaints about the bank’s loan service practices. Nevada’s new complaint also accuses Bank of America of:

• Telling credit report agencies that consumers who weren’t in default were in default.
• Deceiving borrowers about the reason their requests for loan modifications were turned down.
• Incorrectly claiming that borrowers that had made payments on trial loan modifications hadn’t paid.
• Falsely claiming that loan owners wouldn’t allow changes to mortgages.
• Misleading borrowers with loan modification offers that came with one set of terms but then returning with a different deal.
• Limiting the amount of time employees could help troubled borrowers with their loan-related issues and punishing those that violated these restrictions.
• Not providing the required loan documentation when it packaged mortgage securities and sold them to investors.
• Failing to endorse a mortgage note, per the typical pool and servicing agreements made between investors and Countrywide, and not delivering it to the trustee in charge of the pool.

Nevada says that Such paperwork failures should have prevented the bank from being able to foreclose on borrowers.

Masto’s request to get out of the Countrywide settlement could impact other negotiations by other state attorneys general related to allegedly improper foreclosure practices against Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, and Wells Fargo. These banks are being asked to put out approximately $20 billion toward loan modifications. Discussions here have been delayed because there is disagreement over whether a settlement would let state regulators sue the banks over questionable practices in the future.

Related Web Resources:
Nevada Says Bank Broke Mortgage Settlement, NY Times, August 30, 2011

Nevada's Attorney General pursues BofA, UPI, September 19, 2011

Nevada Goes to War Against Bank of America, Consumer Affairs, September 2011

More Blog Posts:
Federal Home Loan Banks Say Countrywide Financial Corp Mortgage Bond Investors May Be Owed Way More than What $8.5B Securities Settlement with Bank of America Corp. is Offering, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, July 22, 2011

Countrywide Finance. Corp, UBS Securities LLC, and JPMorgan Securities LLC Settle Mortgage-Backed Securities Lawsuit Filed by New Mexico Institutional Investors for $162M, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, March 10, 2011

Bank of America and Countrywide Financial Sued by Allstate over $700M in Bad Mortgaged-Backed Securities, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, December 28, 2010

Continue reading "Nevada Attorney General Goes After Bank of America for Allegedly Violating Countrywide Fraud Settlement" »

August 29, 2011

$63 Million Mortgage-Backed Securities Lawsuit Against Bank of America is Second One Filed by Western and Southern Life Insurance Co. Against the Financial Firm

Once again, Western and Southern Life Insurance Co. is suing Bank of America Corporation for the alleged misrepresentation of mortgage-backed securities that the financial firm sold to the insurer. This time, the plaintiff is seeking $63 million. Western and Southern Life’s first MBS lawsuit against BofA sought $225 million in losses over securities it bought through Countrywide Financial Corp. (Bank of America acquired Countrywide in 2008.)

In this latest ARS lawsuit, Western and Southern Life says that it purchased $134 million in MBS from Bank of America between 2006 and 2008. The company contends that the securities would go on to lose 47% of their value. Western and Southern Life claims that the financial firm disregarded its own underwriting procedures and that a lot of the loans, which had AAA-ratings when they were purchased, have since foreclosed or defaulted. The insurer is also accusing Bank of America of failing to properly examine documents pertaining to the loans, which it says were based on erroneous information (including inflated appraisals, overstated incomes, and false employment verifications).

It was just last month that Western and Southern Life filed two other MBS lawsuits. In its securities case against Morgan Stanley & Co., the insurer is seeking $68.1 million for losses it claims it sustained because the financial firm allegedly misrepresented the MBS. The insurer says that in 2006 and 2007 it bought $179 million in mortgage-backed securities from Morgan Stanley.

Also in July, Western and Southern Life sued Credit Suisse Securities over the alleged loss of $107 million in MBS that the financial firm underwrote and one of its units sold. As with its securities cases against Bank of America, Western and Southern Life claims that Credit Suisse and Morgan Stanley disregarded their standards when accepting the loans. The insurer says that between 2005 and 2008 it bought $276 million in MBS from Credit Suisse.

Although Bank of America’s agreement to settle mortgage-back securities claims by 22 private investors that purchased 530 MBS valued at $424 billion covers Countrywide loans, Western and Southern Life was not part of this arrangement. Among the institutional investors to benefit from the settlement are BlackRock, Inc., PIMCO, Metlife, Inc., the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and Goldman Sachs.

Per that settlement, Bank of America will give $8.5 billion to Bank of New York Mellon, which, as bondholder trustee, will distribute the funds to investors. However, if the court approves this settlement, investors will still be at a disadvantage because only some 2 or 3 centers on the dollar would be represented for those that suffered financial losses.

BofA Again Sued Over MBS, Yahoo, August 25, 2011

Bank of America agrees to $8.5B Countrywide settlement, Biz Journals, June 29, 2011

Western & Southern sues over investments, Business Courier, July 29, 2011


More Blog Posts:

AIG Files $10 Billion Mortgage-Backed Securities Lawsuit Against Bank of America, Institutional Investors Securities Blog, August 13, 2011

Wall Street Knew 28% of the Loans Behind Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS) Failed to Meet Basic Underwriting Standards, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, September 29, 2010

Federal Home Loan Banks Say Countrywide Financial Corp Mortgage Bond Investors May Be Owed Way More than What $8.5B Securities Settlement with Bank of America Corp. is Offering, Institutional Investors Securities Blog, July 22, 2011

Continue reading "$63 Million Mortgage-Backed Securities Lawsuit Against Bank of America is Second One Filed by Western and Southern Life Insurance Co. Against the Financial Firm" »

August 13, 2011

AIG Files $10 Billion Mortgage-Backed Securities Lawsuit Against Bank of America

American International Group (AIG) is seeking to recover over $10 billion in mortgage-backed securities-related losses from Bank of America (BAC). The losses were allegedly sustained on $28 billion in investments.

In what may be the largest MBS-related action filed by one investor, the complaint accuses Bank of America and its units Countrywide Financial and Merrill Lynch of misrepresenting the quality of the mortgages that were in the securities that investors bought. AIG also claims that Bank of America used false data to persuade the credit rating agencies to give the MBS high ratings.

Bank of America, which contends that the disclosures that were made were robust enough for sophisticated investors and that AIG is a “seasoned investor,” is denying AIG’s allegations against it. According to Bank of America spokesperson Lawrence Di Rita, the reason AIG suffered the financial losses at issue is because it was reckless in pursing profits and high yields in the “mortgage and structured finance markets.”

Bank of America’s 2008 acquisition of Countrywide for $4 billion has cost the financial firm much more in mortgage-related fines, losses, loan buybacks, and litigation expenses. Courthouse News Service database reports that Countrywide and Bank of America have been named as defendants in 1300 lawsuits in 2011 alone. Recently, Bank of America agreed to settle investor MBS claims for $8.5 billion. Parties to the settlement included the Bank of NY Mellon, BlackRock, the Federal reserve Bank of New York, and PIMCO. However, the New York Attorney General is now calling that settlement inadequate.

As for AIG, which is still largely owned by taxpayers following its 2008 government bailout, the New York Times says that the insurer is preparing similar securities fraud complaints against JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, and Deutsche Bank to try to recover some of the billions that it lost during the economic crisis.

Government Not Proving Helpful In Pursuing Investment Banks
Contrary to investors, who are seeking to hold big banks accountable in civil court, the Justice Department closed many of its investigations into Wall Street’s big banks without filing any criminal charges. Although it has brought cases against three employees at big financial banks, no executives have been charged. However, a spokesperson for the Justice Department says that the government has pursued the cases were appropriate and that it is much more difficult to prove that a crime has been committed beyond a reasonable doubt than to find a party liable in civil court.

The New York Times reports that a person familiar with the case says that the Justice Department has concluded its investigation into Countrywide’s actions heading into the financial crises and that there will be no charges filed. The government also recently closed its probe into Washington Mutual, with the finding that there was no evidence of criminal wrongdoing. The Washington bank almost failed because of high-risk mortgages.


Related Web Resources:

A.I.G. Sues Bank of America Over Mortgage Bonds, The New York Times, August 8, 2011

AIG sues Bank of America for $10 billion over mortgages, USA Today/AP, August 8, 2011

More Blog Posts:
Federal Home Loan Banks Say Countrywide Financial Corp Mortgage Bond Investors May Be Owed Way More than What $8.5B Securities Settlement with Bank of America Corp. is Offering, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, July 22, 2011

Bank of America Cop. (BAC)’s Merrill Lynch a Defendant of Class-Action Mortgage-Backed Securities Lawsuit Against at Least 1,800 Investors, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, July 22, 2011, June 25, 2011

Bank of America and Countrywide Financial Sued by Allstate over $700M in Bad Mortgaged-Backed Securities, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, December 29, 2010

Continue reading "AIG Files $10 Billion Mortgage-Backed Securities Lawsuit Against Bank of America " »

July 22, 2011

Federal Home Loan Banks Say Countrywide Financial Corp Mortgage Bond Investors May Be Owed Way More than What $8.5B Securities Settlement with Bank of America Corp. is Offering

According to six Federal Home Loan Banks, the investors of Countrywide Financial Corp.’s mortgage bonds may be entitled to three or more times more than what the proposed $8.5 billion securities settlement reached with Bank of America Corp (BAC) is offering. Bank of America acquired Countrywide in 2008.

Under the current settlement, which was reached with Bank of New York Mellon (the trustee of 22 institutional investors), Bank of America is supposed to pay those who placed money in the 530 residential mortgage securitization trusts that Countrywide had set up. Now, however, the Federal Home Loan Banks of Chicago, Boston, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Seattle, and San Francisco have filed a court filing seeking more information about the deal. The home loan banks claim that they also invested over $8.5 billion in the mortgage-backed securities. While the current proposal requires that Bank of America repurchase just 40% of MBS that defaulted, the FHLBs believe there may be grounds for upping the proposed settlement amount to at least $22 billion and they may want to join the case.

The six FHLBanks are not the only ones to object to BofA’s proposed settlement. Walnut Place LLC I-XI, which represents another group of Countrywide MBS investors, also has filed a court petition. They claim that Bank of New York Mellon was only attempting to arrive at an agreement for its 22 institutional investors that the rest of the investors would just have to abide by. Walnut Place LLC I-XI wants to block the current settlement and be excluded from any agreement that is finalized between BofA and Bank of New York Mellon.

Mortgage-Backed Securities
If you or your company suffered financial losses from investing in mortgage-backed securities, an experienced securities fraud attorney may be able to determine whether you have grounds for an institutional investment fraud claim.

Related Web Resources:
BofA Mortgage-Backed Securities Settlement Hits a Snag, OnWallStreet, July 22, 2011

Mortgage Investors May Be Owed Three Times More in BofA Deal, Bloomberg, July 21, 2011

Federal Home Loan Banks

Bank Of America Hit With Massive Fraud Lawsuit Over Countrywide, Texas Stockbroker Fraud


More Blog Posts:

Countrywide Finance. Corp, UBS Securities LLC, and JPMorgan Securities LLC Settle Mortgage-Backed Securities Lawsuit Filed by New Mexico Institutional Investors for $162M, Institutional Investors Securities Blog, March 10, 2011

Bank of America and Countrywide Financial Sued by Allstate over $700M in Bad Mortgaged-Backed Securities, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, December 29, 2010

Countrywide Financial, Merrill Lynch, and Citigroup Executives Defend Their Hefty Compensations Following Subprime Mortgage Crisis, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, March 12, 2008


Continue reading "Federal Home Loan Banks Say Countrywide Financial Corp Mortgage Bond Investors May Be Owed Way More than What $8.5B Securities Settlement with Bank of America Corp. is Offering" »

June 25, 2011

Bank of America Cop. (BAC)’s Merrill Lynch a Defendant of Class-Action Mortgage-Backed Securities Lawsuit Against at Least 1,800 Investors

U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff has ruled that Merrill Lynch must face a class action securities fraud lawsuit over mortgage-backed securities. The class of at least 1,800 investors consists of the buyers of 31 tranches of MBS in 18 different offerings that were sold between February 2006 and September 2007. Merrill Lynch is a unit of Bank of America Corp. (BAC).

The investors, who filed their litigation in 2008, are accusing Merrill of misleading them in the offering documents for certificate valued at $16.5 billion and of falsely claiming that the underlying mortgages were in compliance with underwriting guidelines. Plaintiffs include the Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association, the Mississippi Public Employees’ Retirement System, the Wyoming state treasurer, the Connecticut Carpenters Annuity Fund, and the Connecticut Carpenters Pension Fund. The class action certification lets the investors put their claims together into one lawsuit rather than having to individually push their cases through.

Meantime, Bloomberg.com is reporting that in a separate securities fraud lawsuit, also against Bank of America, U.S. District Judge William Pauley in Manhattan consolidated three cases accusing the investment bank of hiding the risks involved in mortgage-backed securities and of not using appropriate controls in processing foreclosures. The lead plaintiff in this case is Pennsylvania Public School Employees’ Retirement System.

Securities Class Actions
“The average net recovery for victims in securities class action claims is about 8% of their losses because such claims face many problems," says Shepherd Smith Edwards and Kantas founder and securities fraud attorney William Shepherd. "For example, only federal securities fraud claims can be made in such cases, which are often difficult to prove. However, investors who “opt out” of the class in a timely manner can file their own individual claims, including under state law claims often easier to prove. Our stockbroker fraud lawyers has represented many investors who have opted-out of securities class actions."

Shepherd continues, "Unfortunately, many securities class action claims are filed with very short “opt out” dates and some of these cases are later settled on terms that arguably favor the defendants while large payments end up going to the lawyers representing the investor/ victims in the class. Many believe the true losers in such cases are the members of the investor class who suffered the losses. [We have no information at this time to suggest such a result in this matter.] ”

Related Web Resources:
Merrill Must Face Class Action Over Mortgage Securities, Bloomberg, January 20, 2011

Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association

Mississippi Public Employees’ Retirement System

Connecticut Carpenters Annuity Fund


More Blog Posts:

National Credit Union Administration Board Files $800M Mortgage-Backed Securities Fraud Lawsuits Against JP Morgan Securities, RBS Securities, and Other Financial Institutions, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, June 23, 2011

MBIA Can Sue Morgan Stanley Over Alleged Misrepresentation of MBS Risks, Says US New York Supreme Court, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, June 14, 2011

Dow Corning Corp.’s $165M Securities Fraud Lawsuit Against Merrill Lynch & Co. Can Proceed, Says District Court Judge, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, April 7, 2011


Continue reading "Bank of America Cop. (BAC)’s Merrill Lynch a Defendant of Class-Action Mortgage-Backed Securities Lawsuit Against at Least 1,800 Investors" »

March 10, 2011

Countrywide Finance. Corp, UBS Securities LLC, and JPMorgan Securities LLC Settle Mortgage-Backed Securities Lawsuit Filed by New Mexico Institutional Investors for $162M

New Mexico’s State Investment Council and Public Employees Retirement Association have settled their securities lawsuit with Countrywide Finance Corp. and two underwriters for $162 million. These details, from the confidential settlement agreement, were was obtained by the Albuquerque Journal through an Inspection of Public Records request.

The Countrywide investments were made up of mortgage-backed securities that the company had written. JPMorgan Securities and UBS Securities LLC were the two underwriters.

The securities were obtained through securities lending, which involved the SIC lending one batch of securities in return for another batch that paid a slightly higher interest rate. Although securities lending is generally considered safe for institutional investors like the SIC and PERA, mortgage-backed securities played a key role in the recent financial collapse. Even now, since the market has rebounded, the Countrywide securities are still worth less than what the state got.

In their institutional investment fraud lawsuit, the SIC and PERA accuse the defendants of disregarding their own underwriting guidelines and dumping the securities on investors, including the state of New Mexico, “to generate high volume loan business regardless of credit risk.” The New Mexico agencies opted to file their complaint in state court instead of taking part in a class-action lawsuit with other US states.

Of the $162 million, $149 million goes to SIC, PERA gets $6 million, the Educational Retirement Board receives $100,000, and the lawyers hired by the state are to receive $7 million. Bank of America bought out Countrywide in 2008.

Related Web Resources:
State Nets $155 Million in Settlement, Albuquerque Journal, March 7, 2011

Countrywide sued by 3 New Mexico funds, Pensions & Investments, Pension and Investments, August 20, 2008

New Mexico State Investment Council

Public Employees Retirement Association of New Mexico

New Mexico Educational Retirement Board


More Blog Posts:
Bank of America and Countrywide Financial Sued by Allstate over $700M in Bad Mortgaged-Backed Securities, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, December 29, 2010

Countrywide Financial, Merrill Lynch, and Citigroup Executives Defend Their Hefty Compensations Following Subprime Mortgage Crisis, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, March 12, 2008

Continue reading "Countrywide Finance. Corp, UBS Securities LLC, and JPMorgan Securities LLC Settle Mortgage-Backed Securities Lawsuit Filed by New Mexico Institutional Investors for $162M " »

January 22, 2011

Bank of America Settles for $4.25M New York Securities Fraud Allegations that Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. Hid Subprime Mortgage Risks from Investors

Bank of America Corp. (BAC) and the New York State Common Retirement Fund have settled the latter’s securities fraud lawsuit accusing Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. of concealing the risks involved in investing in the subprime mortgage market. Under the terms of the settlement, Bank of America, which owns Merrill Lynch, will pay $4.25 million.

The comptroller’s office is keeping the terms of the securities settlement confidential. State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli did announce last July that the New York pension fund wanted to recover losses sustained by investors from Merrill’s alleged “fraud and deception” that “artificially inflated” the value of Merrill stock, which rapidly declined when the extent of exposure was revealed.

By opting out of a similar class action complaint involving other funds, the state pension fund has a chance of recovering more from the investment bank. Another securities lawsuit that has yet to be resolved seeks to recover losses related to Bank of America’s proxy disclosure when acquiring Merrill.

The demise of the subprime mortgage market a few years ago contributed to the crisis in the housing market and the economic collapse that has affected millions in the US and the rest of the world. Investors have since stepped forward and filed securities claims and lawsuits against investment banks, brokers, and others in the financial industry for misrepresenting the risks involved with subprime mortgages that have resulted in losses in the billions.

DiNapoli, BOA/Merrill Lynch settle for $4.25 million, Capitol Confidential, January 13, 2011

The Subprime Mortgage Market Collapse: A Primer on the Causes and Possible Solutions, The Heritage Foundation

NY comptroller settles Merrill Lynch fraud suit, BusinessWeek, January 13, 2011

New York State Common Retirement Fund

Subprime Mortgage, Institutional Investors Securities Blog

Continue reading "Bank of America Settles for $4.25M New York Securities Fraud Allegations that Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. Hid Subprime Mortgage Risks from Investors" »

December 31, 2010

Class Action Plaintiffs Dispute Bank of America’s $137M Settlement with State Attorney Generals Over Municipal Derivatives

The plaintiffs in a class action case against Bank of America Corp. (BAC) are asking a court to intervene in the securities settlement reached between the investment bank and 20 state attorneys generals over the alleged manipulation of municipal derivatives bids. As part of the global settlement, BofA agreed to pay approximately $137 million: $9.2 million to the Office of the Comptroller of Currency, $36.1 million to the Securities and Exchange Commission, $25 million in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service, and $66.9 million to the states. The plaintiffs claim that the settlement purports to settle the charges of their case without consulting with or notifying the class counsel.

Fairfax County, Va., the state of Mississippi, and other plaintiffs filed the securities class action against 37 banks. They claimed that the alleged bidding manipulation practices involving municipal derivatives had been occurring as far back as 1992.

Now, the plaintiffs want permission to file a motion to request an enjoinment of the BoA global settlement. Meantime, BoA is arguing that the plaintiffs’ motion is “baseless” and they want the court to not allow it. The investment bank says that it disagrees that the states’ settlement resolves the class claims. BoA also contends that it kept Judge Weinstein and the interim class counsel abreast of settlement negotiations with the state.

Related Web Resources:
Bank of America, Class Plaintiffs Tussle Over Bank's Global Settlement With States, BNA Securities Law Daily, December 21, 2010

Bank of America to Pay $137M Over Alleged Investment Scam To Pay Municipalities Low Interest Rates on Investments and $9M Over Alleged Bid-Rigging Scheme to Nonprofits, Institutional Investors Securities Blog, December 16 2010

Texas, 19 States Resolve Antitrust Investigation Into Bank of America's Municipal Derivatives Marketing, Cherokeean Herald, December 8, 2010

Continue reading "Class Action Plaintiffs Dispute Bank of America’s $137M Settlement with State Attorney Generals Over Municipal Derivatives" »

December 16, 2010

Bank of America to Pay $137M Over Alleged Investment Scam To Pay Municipalities Low Interest Rates on Investments and $9M Over Alleged Bid-Rigging Scheme to Nonprofits

Bank of America has agreed to pay $137 million to settle charges that it was involved in a financial scheme that allowed it to pay cities, states, and school districts low interest rates on their investments. The financial firm allegedly conspired with rivals to share municipalities’ investment business without having to pay market rates. As a result, government bodies in “virtually every state, district, and territory” in this country were paid artificially suppressed yields or rates on municipal bond offerings’ invested proceeds.

Bank of America has agreed to pay $36 million to the Securities and Exchange Commission and $101 million to federal and state agencies. The Los Angeles Times is reporting that $67 million will go to 20 US states. BofA will also make payments to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Internal Revenue Service. The SEC contends that from 1998 to 2002 the investment bank broke the law in 88 separate deals.

In its Formal Agreement with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, Bank of America agreed to strengthen its procedures, policies, and internal controls over competitive bidding in the department where the alleged illegal conduct took place, as well as take action to make sure that sufficient procedures, policies, and controls exist related to competitive bidding on an enterprise wide basis. The OCC is accusing the investment bank of taking part in a bid-ridding scheme involving the sale and marketing of financial products to non-profit organizations, including municipalities.

Per their Formal Agreement, the bank must pay profits and prejudgment interest from 38 collateralized certificate of deposit transactions to the non-profits that suffered financial harm in the scam. Total payment is $9,217,218.


Related Web Resources:
Bank of America settles allegations of kickbacks, collusion, Los Angeles Times, December 8, 2010

Bank of America to Pay $137 Million in Muni Cases, Bloomberg, December 7, 2010

OCC, Bank of America Enter Agreement Requiring Payment of Profits Plus Interest to Municipalities Harmed by Bid-Rigging on Financial Products, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, December 7, 2010

Bank of America, Stockbroker Fraud Blog

Continue reading "Bank of America to Pay $137M Over Alleged Investment Scam To Pay Municipalities Low Interest Rates on Investments and $9M Over Alleged Bid-Rigging Scheme to Nonprofits " »

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