JP Morgan Sued by Dexia in $1.7B MBS Lawsuit

Dexia SA (DEXB) is suing JP Morgan Chase & Co. (JPM ) for over $1.7 billion. In its mortgage-backed securities lawsuit, the Belgian-French bank contends that the loans underlying the securities that the US bank sold it were riskier than what they were represented to be.

JP Morgan and its companies, Washington Mutual (WM) and Bear Stearns Co., are accused of “egregious” fraud for allegedly making and selling mortgage bonds backed by loans that they knew were “exceptionally bad.” Dexia claims it sustained substantial losses.

According to The New York Times, there are a slew of employee interviews and internal e-mails related to this MBS lawsuit that talk about how the three firms disregarded quality controls and problems—perhaps even concealing the latter—in order to make a profit from these mortgages that were packaged into complex securities. They are accused of seeking to avail of the mortgage-backed securities demand during the housing boom even as doubts began to arise about whether or not these investments were good quality. Court filings report that JPMorgan would get mortgages from lenders that didn’t have stellar records, assigning Washington Mutual and American Home Mortgage a “poor” grade on its “internal ‘due diligence scorecard.’” The loans were then swiftly sold off to investors.

Meantime, Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual are also said to have cut back on quality controls—the latter even reducing due diligence staff by 25% for the supposed purpose of upping profits. One e-mail said that executives who protested these actions were harassed.

Also, per court documents, a 2006 analysis for JP Morgan by a third party to study home loans before they were bundled into investments determined that close to half the sample pool—about 214 loans—were “defective,” meaning that they failed to satisfy underwriting standards. Meantime, considering the size of some mortgages, the incomes of its borrowers were reportedly precariously low, and per another report that year, thousands of borrowers were late on payments. Yet, contend the documents, JP Morgan would on occasion disregard or change these critical assessments while giving certain employees, including bankers that put together the mortgages, the authority to veto or turn a blind eye to these negative reviews. JP Morgan executives at times even allegedly lowered the number of loans thought delinquent or “defective.”

All of these actions were allegedly part of a plan to raise profit. One Washington Mutual employee even revealed in a deposition that making the loan defects known would have been harmful to the financial firm. Also, because some firms did not give an accurate portrayal of their investments, this impacted the way credit ratings agencies would rate the securities.

Since the financial crisis, Dexia has been bailed out twice. Court records show that it sustained $774 million in losses on MBS, which overall cost over $22.5 billion in losses from 2005 and 2007 alone.

Related Web Resources:
E-Mails Imply JPMorgan Knew Some Mortgage Deals Were Bad, The New York TImes, February 6, 2013

JPMorgan Sued by Dexia Over $1.7 Billion in Mortgage-Backed Securities, Bloomberg, January 20, 2012

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