Articles Posted in Mortgage Fraud

The mortgage securities fraud deal arrived at between Deutsche Bank (DB) and the Department of Justice is now final. As part of the settlement, the German lender will pay a $3.1B civil penalty and $4.1B in relief to borrowers, homeowners, and others that were impacted because it purportedly misled investors about the mortgage securities it was selling before the housing market failed.

Although the agreement was announced last month, the details of the resolution have just been released to the public. This includes information that as far back as May 2006, a Deutsche Bank supervisor had cautioned one of the firm’s senior traders about one mortgage lender that had become too lax with its underwriting practices.

In a Statement of Facts that was part of the agreement, Deutsche Bank acknowledged that it was aware that it was not fully disclosing the risks involved with the loans that it was bundling and selling. Deutsche Bank CEO John Cryan issued a written statement apologizing “unreservedly” for the bank’s conduct. Cryan said that Deutsche Bank now has better standards in place.

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Jesse Litvak, a former Jefferies Group LLC (JEF) bond trader, is scheduled to go on trial again. It was just two years ago that a jury found him guilty of fraud when he misled customers about the price he paid for residential mortgage-backed bonds.

The criminal charges against him were originally brought by the US attorney’s office in Connecticut three years ago. Prosecutors accused him of bilking customers of $2M when he inflated the prices of what he’d actually paid for the bonds. Because of purported misstatements, professional investment managers and hedge funds overpaid for the residential-mortgage-backed bonds. Meantime, Litvak allegedly made $100K more for his firm for every transaction than was disclosed to his customers.

The jury, in 2014, found that Litvak violated securities laws and they found him guilty on 15 criminal counts, including multiple counts of securities fraud. Litvak had pleaded not guilty to all of the charges. He was then sentenced to two years in prison and ordered to pay a $1.75M.

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The US government has arrived at multibillion-dollar settlements with Credit Suisse Group AG (CS) and Deutsche Bank AG (DB) to settle allegations involving toxic securities. It also has filed a separate lawsuit against Barclays (BARC) over its alleged sales of toxic mortgage-backed securities.

In the Deutsche Bank case, the US Justice Department had sought $14B to settle allegations that the bank sold investors toxic mortgage securities. Now, the German lender will have to pay $3.1B immediately. It has promised to pay $4.1B over five years to a US consumer relief fund. However, Deutsche Bank remains under investigation by US and UK regulator over suspect trades involving Russian stock, foreign exchange rate rigging, precious metal-related price violations, and alleged violations of US sanctions against number of countries, including Iran.

In the settlement with Credit Suisse, the bank will pay a $2.48B penalty and $2.8B in relief to communities and homeowners impacted by the drop in home prices during the financial crisis. The consumer relief will be paid over five years.

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Former Fannie Mae CEO Settles SEC Charges for $100K
Daniel Mudd has agreed to pay $100K to settle Securities and Exchange Commission charges accusing the ex-Fannie Mae CEO of misleading investors about the degree to which the mortgage company was exposed to subprime loans leading up to the 2008 economic crisis. The regulator had filed its civil case against Mudd and two other Fannie Mae executives in 2011. The latter two settled with the Commission last year.

Mudd maintains he did nothing wrong.

WL Ross Resolves Fee-Allocation Disclosure Charges
WL Ross & Co. will reimburse specific WL Ross funds about $11.8M to resolve SEC charges related to its fee allocation practices and disclosures. The firm will also pay a $2.3M civil penalty.

According to the SEC, WL Ross was given transaction fees by portfolio companies. This lowered the management fees that funds had to pay the firm. The regulator points to WL Ross’s limited partnership agreements that were unclear regarding fee offsets when multiple funds and other co-investors share ownership.

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Edwin Chin, an ex-Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) senior trader, will pay $400K to resolve U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission charges accusing him of misleading the bank’s customers when he sold them residential mortgage-backed securities at prices that were higher than they should have been. Even though he is settling, Chin is not denying or admitting to the regulator’s findings. He has, however, agreed to the entry of the order stating that he violated the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5.

According to the Commission’s order, from 2010 until 2012, which is when Chin left the bank, the former Goldman trader made extra money for the firm by concealing the prices that it had paid for different RMBSs and reselling the securities at higher prices to customers. The difference in cost would go to Goldman.

The SEC said Chin made over $1.5M in additional trading profits. Because Goldman made more money, Chin did as well.

The regulator accused Chin of sometimes misleading buyers by suggesting that he was in the process of negotiating a transaction between customers when he was merely selling residential mortgage-backed securities from Goldman’s inventory. In one alleged incident, Chin earned an additional $200K by telling a hedge fund client that he would sell a bond at cost price and without compensation. Unfortunately, he purportedly neglected to tell the hedge fund that he had already bought the security, had it in inventory, and was charging the fund a worse price than what Goldman paid earlier that day. The SEC said that Chin misled the same client about the price of a different security the following day, resulting in an additional $100K in profit.

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The U.S. Attorney for Manhattan’s Southern District is asking the Second Circuit Court of Appeals to look at a ruling that overturned the jury verdict that held Countrywide Home Loans liable for mortgage fraud. Countrywide, which is now owned by Bank of America (BAC), made billions of dollars on home loans that went into default following the 2008 financial crisis.

It was in 2007 that the mortgage provider introduced a new program, referred to as the “high-speed swim lane,” to process applications for mortgages. Within Countrywide, the program was dubbed the “hustle.”

The program did not include the majority of conditions required to make sure loans would be paid back after Wall Street banks, Freddie Mac, or Fannie Mae sold them to investors. Unfortunately, Freddie and Fannie were not told that these conditions had become more relaxed or that loans no longer met certain criteria. The two mortgage finance firms had tightened their own loan buying requirements and underwriting guidelines. As a result of the loosened restrictions by Countrywide, contended the Justice Department, “rampant instances of fraud” resulted.

Despite the 2013 jury verdict that found Countrywide and a Bank of America executive liable for mortgage fraud, a Second Circuit judge panel overruled the decision. It found that even though Countrywide purposely breached contracts, this was not fraud because the lender had not intended to fool customers at the time that contracts were signed.

Now, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara wants a Second Circuit panel of judges to consider that Countrywide made false statements when selling loan bundles to customers, including Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. He said that the court bypassed evidence at trial that showed how the defendants made fraudulent misrepresentations when selling the loans and while the contracts were being executed. Prosecutors are arguing that the language in the contract refers to each mortgage sale during the actual sale and not upon the writing of the contract.

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HSBC Finance Corp., an HSBC Holdings Plc. (HSBC) unit, will pay $1.575B to settle a shareholder class action securities case that was brought in 2002. The case involves Household International, the consumer finance business that HSBC purchased in 2003. Household International is now HSBC Finance.

Household shareholders accused the company of inflating its share price by hiding its poor lending practices and bad quality loans. When Household consented to pay U.S. state regulators $484M to resolve predatory lending claims in 2011, its share price dropped by over 50%.

HSBC became the defendant against claims by Household shareholders when it purchased the company for $14.2B. That deal eventually led to write-downs for tens of billions of dollars for bad loans in the wake of the subprime mortgage crisis.

Shareholders won a $2.46B judgment against the British Bank in 2013. In May 2015, however, a federal appeals court tossed the award and demanded a new trial to decide whether “nonfraud factors” that were specific to the firm played a part in the Household’s share price dropping.

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JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) has consented to pay $995M to settle claims brought by Ambac Financial Group claiming that the insurance company was fooled into insuring hundreds of mortgage bonds that were backed by poor quality loans. As part of the settlement, Ambac will withdraw its opposition to a $4.5B deal reached between the firm and investors, such as Pacific Investment Management Co. (PiMCO) and BlackRock Inc (BLK), over faulty home loans.

One of Ambac’s units was the number two largest bond insurer in the world eight years ago, when the growing number of mortgage defaults caused it to become inundated with claims. The settlement with JPMorgan will conclude two lawsuits over the quality of loans backing mortgage bonds that were sold by Bear Stearns & Co., which JPMorgan purchased in 2008. It also resolves the insurer’s efforts to recover payments of principal plus interest on approximately $3.3B of nearly a dozen MBS trusts sponsored by Bear Stearns unit EMC Mortgage LLC.

According to Bloomberg, this latest settlement opens the door for a judge to approve the settlement between JPMorgan and institutional investors.

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Goldman Sachs Group (GS) will pay $272 million to more than 400 bond investors, including two electrical pension funds, to settle a lawsuit alleging that it made misleading disclosures in order to sell mortgage securities backed by faulty loans. The lead plaintiff in the case was the NECA-IBEW Health and Welfare Fund, which is an Illinois-based electrical workers pension fund.

When NECA-IBEW filed its lawsuit against Goldman Sachs in 2008, it contended that not only did it make false statements but also it left out key information about the mortgages it sold into 17 trusts the year before. The plaintiff also said that Goldman misled investors about the underwriting of the loans behind the securities, as well as about the quality of appraisals and whether borrowers were capable of paying back their loans. The fund said that the securities’ prices fell during and after the economic crisis while their credit ratings slipped from triple-A to triple C junk grades.

Writing about the complaint in 2008, HousingWire Publisher Paul Jackson said that some of the claims were over the alleged use of inflated appraisals by the originating entities. He noted that many of the loans in the trusts were of the no-doc, reduced-doc, stated-income ilk, which the plaintiff believes are fraudulent.

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The Office Comptroller of the Currency has placed restrictions on the mortgage-servicing operations of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co (JPM), Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC), HSBC Holdings PLC (HSBC), Everbank Financial Corp. (EVER), U.S. Bancorp (USB), and Santander Holdings USA Inc. for their failure to totally comply with enforcement orders related to home foreclosure abuses. The OCC said that the banks did not satisfy all the requirements in consent orders that were issued in 2011 over foreclosure processing errors.

Under agreements reached with regulators, most of the biggest mortgage services in the country have consented to pay billions of dollars and fix their controls and systems to resolve claims that they robo-signed, improperly handled loan papers, or fraudulently endorsed affidavits used in foreclosures following the 2008 financial crisis. The banks are accused of improperly putting into motion hundreds of thousands of home foreclosures without assessing each case individually.

The enforcement orders led to scrutiny into US banks’ foreclosure files to assess how many borrowers should be compensated. However, in 2013, the Federal Reserve and the OCC stopped the probe without concluding its investigation.

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