Metlife (MET) is suing Morgan Stanley (MS) for securities fraud. According to Bloomberg, the insurance company bought over $757 million in residential mortgage-backed securities from the financial firm in 2006 and 2007. In the institutional investment fraud lawsuit, Morgan Stanley had vouched that the properties behind the loans were “accurately appraised” and that the loans met underwriting guidelines. The insurer, however, contends that the loans’ originators were actually some of the subprime lending industry’s “worst culprits.”
The RMBS lawsuit comes right after MetLife agreed to pay half a billion dollars to settle a probe by a number of states over its payment practices. The investigation involves the Social Security “Death Master” file, which includes a list of names of people who have recently passed away. Insurance companies are accused of using the list to stop issuing to dead clients their annuity payments and not using the list to confirm that life insurance policyholders had died.
MetLife announced on Thursday that it was leaving the reverse mortgage industry. Nationstar Mortgage LLC (NSM) will buy its portfolio. The move is a big change for the insurance company, which had been the market leader.
Meantime, Morgan Stanley has been battling other residential mortgage-backed securities lawsuits. Earlier this year, Sealink Funding Ltd. filed a case against it over more than $556 million in RMBS that it purchased. Sealink Funding, a European fund, was set up to manage Landesbank Sachsen AG’s most high-risk assets.
The fund bought the securities from Morgan Stanley after the financial firm said it had done its due diligence on the lenders of the investments and that the loans satisfied underwriting standards and merited their AAA ratings. Sealink called the loans’ originators among the subprime lending industry’s “worst culprits.”
Last year, Allstate Insurance Co. (ALL) filed its RMBS lawsuit against Morgan Stanley over more than $104 million in RMBS it bought in several offerings. The insurer’s contention over reassurances the financial firm made about the securities is similar to the allegations made by Sealink and Metlife. Allstate has also filed RMBS lawsuits against other financial firms, including Merrill Lynch (MER) units, Citigroup Inc. (C), and Bank of America Corp.’s (BAC) Countrywide.
As previously noted by SEC Enforcement director Robert Khuzami, mortgage products played a crucial role in the financial crisis that began a few years ago. Unprecedented losses resulted when mortgage-backed securities failed. Many institutional investors are still trying to recover. They claim they were misled about the risks involved and they want their money back.
MetLife Pays $500 Million To Settle Probe Into Unpaid Claims For Dead Policy Holders, Huffington Post, April 23, 2012
MetLife to pay $500 million in multi-state death benefits probe, Los Angeles Times, April 23, 2012
Morgan Stanley Sued by Allstate on Mortgage Claims, Bloomberg, August 18, 2011
More Blog Posts:
H & R Block Subsidiary Option One Mortgage Corporation to Pay $28.2M to Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities Investors, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, April 25, 2012
Bank of New York Mellon Corp. Must Contend with Pension Fund Claims Over Countrywide Mortgage-Backed Securities, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, April 10, 2012