Pacific Investment Management Co. and BlackRock Inc. (BLK) are leading a group of investors, including Charles Schwab Co. (SCHW), Prudential Financial Inc. (PRU), DZ Bank AG, and Aegon in suing trust banks for losses they sustained related to over 2,000 mortgage bonds that were issued between 2004 and 2008. Defendants include units of US Bancorp (USB), Deutsche Bank AG (DBK), Wells Fargo (WFC), HSBC Holdings (HSBA.LN), Citigroup (C), and Bank of New York Mellon Corp (BK).
The investors are accusing the banks of breaching their duty as trustee when they did not force bond issuers and lenders to buy back loans that did not meet the standards that buyers were told the bonds possessed. It is a trustee’s job to make sure that principal payments and interest go to bond investors. They also need to make sure that mortgage servicing firms are abiding by the rules that oversee defective loans or homeowner defaults.
Trustees, however, have said that their duties are restricted to tasks like supervising the way payments are made to investors and giving regular reports about bond servicing. They disagree about having a wider oversight duty to fulfill.
Blackrock and Pimco contend that the trustees knew the bonds had defective loans but that they had a conflict because the issues who appointed them had stakes in the firms servicing the loans. Loans in the bonds that were issued by the defendants included subprime lenders Morgan Stanley (MS), Countrywide Financial Corp, First Franklin Financial Corp, New Century Financial Corp., Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS), Goldman Sachs Group (GS), and PLC’s Greenwich Capital.
Investors have already won settlements from JPMorgan Chase Co. (JPM) and Bank of America Corp. (BAC) for the banks’ part in originating and selling mortgage securities. The trustee lawsuit deals with bonds that were not part of this settlement. The plaintiffs want damages for bond losses that exceeded $250 billion.
BlackRock, Pimco Sue Deutsche Bank, U.S. Bank Over Trustee Roles, The Wall Street Journal, June 18, 2014
BlackRock, Pimco Sue Banks for Mortgage-Bond Trustee Role, Bloomberg, June 18, 2014
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