Articles Tagged with residential mortgage-backed securities

The U.S. Justice Department has filed a civil securities fraud case against Paul Mangione, a former senior Deutsche Bank (DB) trader. According to the government, Mangione, who headed up the bank’s subprime trading, took part in a fraudulent scam that involved misrepresenting the loans backing two residential mortgage-backed securities that the bank was selling, resulting in investors losing hundreds of millions of dollars.

The DOJ’s RMBS fraud complaint contends that Mangione committed fraud when selling the ACE 2007-HE5 and ACE 2007-HE4, which were $400M and $1B securities, respectively. He allegedly did this by misleading investors about the loans backing the investments and the originating practices of DB Home Lending, which is a Deutsche Bank subsidiary and was the primary loan originator.

According to the US government, the former Deutsche Bank head trader “fraudulently induced” different investors, including financial institutions, pension plans, government-sponsored editions, and religious organizations, to invest almost $1.5B in the two RMBSs, resulting in “extraordinary losses” for them. Mangione allegedly provided offering documents for the HE5 and HE4 that he knew included misrepresentations about compliance lending guidelines, loan characteristics, appraisal accuracy, and other matters. The documents made it appear as if DB Home had put into place underwriting guidelines that “generated quality loans,” as well as processes to properly oversee loan production.

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According to Bloomberg, US prosecutors are conducting a criminal probe into whether hedge funds inflated the value of bonds to enhance the fees they were paid. Sources told the news media outlet that prosecutors want to know whether hedge funds solicited fake price quotes from brokers, which would have let the funds artificially raise the value of illiquid securities in their portfolios.

Just this week, a witness in the residential mortgage-backed securities fraud criminal trial against three ex-Nomura Holdings Inc. traders—they are accused of lying about RMBS prices to clients—stated under oath that he had given a Premium Point Investments LP trader fake quotes. The witness, ex-broker Frank DiNucci Jr., claims that two of the defendants, Michael Gramins and Ross Shapiro, are among the ones that trained him to lie to customers about bond prices. DiNucci, who pleaded guilty to fraud and conspiracy and making misrepresentations,previously worked at Nomura. He also worked at Auriga USA LLC and AOC Securities LLC.

Because certain securities are hard to price, hedge funds depend on brokers and third parties for estimates and quotes to determine how to value debt. Holding artificially inflated securities in the portfolios can allow a hedge fund to tout a better performance and get paid more for performance and management fees. It also allows them to conceal when some holdings do poorly.

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In Manhattan, U.S. District Judge Katherine Polk Failla ruled that a few dozen funds may pursue their mortgage-backed securities fraud lawsuits against Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC) According to Reuters, five lawsuits are involved and plaintiffs include funds from Prudential Financial Inc.(PRU), BlackRock Inc. (BLK), TIAA-CREF, and Pacific Investment Management Co. (PIMICO) Judge Failla also said that the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) could proceed with its MBS fraud claims against the San Francisco-based bank, which it filed on behalf of five credit unions that failed after they bought $2.4B in residential mortgage-backed securities.

The funds are seeking to hold Wells Fargo liable for breach of contract and conflict of interest involving over four dozen trusts, breach of due care, and breach of fiduciary duty. Failla, however, did not allow claims contending violation of a NY law related to mortgage trusts, as well as claims of general negligence, to proceed.

The investors contend that the bank took “virtually no action” to make sure that lenders either bought back the faulty securities or fixed the loans that were backing the securities once they knew that the loans were poorly underwritten or had defaulted. They accused Wells Fargo of failing to act despite being aware of these problems.

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$165M Class Action Settlement Reached in MBS Fraud Case Involving NovaStar Securities
Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc (RBS), Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC), and Deutsche Bank AG (DB) have reached a $165M with investors in their class action mortgage-backed securities case involving underwriting for NovaStar Mortgage Inc., a former subprime lender. The lead plaintiff in the case is the New Jersey Carpenters Health Fund.

NovaStar, which filed for bankruptcy last year, had specialized in low quality residential mortgages. Many of these were bundled into risky securities that were issued prior to the 2008 financial crisis. The class action settlement resolves claims contending that the offering documents put together by the banks misled investors into thinking that the loans underlying about $7.55B of NovaStar MBSs were safe and had been underwritten properly.

A district court judge must still approve the settlement. Meantime, despite the resolution, the banks continue to deny wrongdoing.
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Another Jury Finds Ex-Jefferies Group Trader Guilty of RMBS Fraud
A federal jury has convicted Jesse Litvak of one count of securities fraud. The ex-Jefferies Group LLC (JEF) bond trader was tried again on allegations that he bilked customers of $2M when he inflated the prices that he claimed he paid for residential mortgage-backed securities. As a result of his claims, professional investment managers and hedge funds paid too much for bonds.

Another jury had found Litvak guilty of fraud two years ago. However, in 20015, a federal appellate court dismissed parts of the RMBS fraud case against him. The securities fraud charges were retried before a new jury.

During this trial, prosecutors claimed that Litvak’s customers had totally relied on him for bond pricing information. His legal team, however, argued that his customers were sophisticated investors and did what they wanted regardless of his advice.

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In a deal reached with the US Justice Department, Société Générale will pay $50M to settle civil charges accusing the bank of hiding that the residential mortgaged-backed securities (RMBS) that it promoted and sold were of poor quality. According to the government, the French bank made false representations involving the SG Mortgage Securities Trust 2006-OPT2, a $780M debt issue that it organized more than a decade ago. As part of the settlement, Société Générale admitted that it hid how many of the loans underlying the RMBS shouldn’t have been securitized or were not properly underwritten.

In a statement of facts, Société Générale took responsibility for its conduct. The bank admitted that it falsely represented that loans underlying the residential mortgage-backed security had been originated according to the underwriting guidelines of the loan originator. It also represented to investors that when the SG 2006-OPT2 was originated, no loans in the RMBS had a combined loan-to-value ratio or loan-to-value greater than 100%–this is a claim that Societe General is now admitting was false.

As a result of the bank’s actions, said the DOJ, investors lost “significant” amounts of money and they may lose more. Investors that were impacted include a number of financial institutions that are federally insured.

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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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Financial Advisor Admits to Stealing $1.6M From Family’s Trusts
Brian Keenan, an ex-financial advisor, has pleaded guilty to criminal charges accusing him to stealing over $1.6M from three trusts belonging to members of the same family. Keenan had been employed with Train Babcock Advisors from about 5/2007 to 8/2012. It was during this time that the former financial adviser stole over $1.6M from the beneficiaries of three trusts.

Not only did Keenan take their money, but he also spent the funds on his own expenses. He set up a joint checking account under his name and the name of one of the beneficiaries, and he issued over 40 checks from the trust accounts to the joint account. The beneficiary under whose name he co-opened the account did not have access to it.

Issuing a statement about the financial fraud case, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance reminded the public that a financial adviser’s main duty is to act in a client’s best interest. Vance said that rather than fulfilling that obligation, Keenan took advantage of his clients. Keenan pleaded guilty to Grand Larceny in the First Degree.

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According to the Appellate Division, First Department in New York, the state’s attorney general can move forward with his $11B investor fraud case against Credit Suisse (CS). The state appeals court decided that in this residential mortgage-backed securities lawsuit, a six-year statute of limitations and not a three-year one was applicable.

The civil case was brought in Manhattan Supreme Court four years ago. It accuses the several of the bank’s units of wrongly persuading investors to buy toxic residential mortgage-backed-securities in 2006 and 2007. The complaint states that 24% of Credit Suisse’s loans that were tied to RMBS from those two years were liquidated. Investors went on to sustain $11.2B in losses.

In a 3-2 ruling, the justice’s panel said that NY AG Eric Schneiderman’s fraud claims are ones that may have been brought prior to the writing of the statute. As a result, wrote the justices, the lengthier statute of limitations is to what this case is subject.

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According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Ally Financial (ALLY) will pay $52M to resolve allegations accusing its subsidiary Residential Capital (ResCap) of purposely marketing mortgage bonds even though it knew that the mortgages backing the bonds were toxic. At issue are Residential Capital LLC mortgage-backed securities.

10 subprime residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) were issued in ’06 and ’07 with Ally Financial’s brokerage firm, Ally Securities, previously known as Residential Funding Securities, in the role of lead underwriter. The government contends that even though Ally Securities purportedly noticed that mortgage loan pools in RASC-EMX securities were deteriorating because of deficiencies in both the underwriting guidelines for the subprime mortgage loans and the diligence employed to the collateral before securitization, the firm took great pains to set up the RASC-EMX brand, secure investors for the RMBS offerings, and direct third-part due diligence to test if the loans were in compliance with disclosures made in public offering documents to investors.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office claims that the firm continued to market the securities to investors even though it knew that the toxic subprime mortgages were likely to become delinquent. The government is alleging that Ally Financial made misstatements about the RMBSs.

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