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

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

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 " »

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

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" »

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" »

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" »

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 " »

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