Articles Tagged with Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities Fraud

This week, Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC (RBS) has agreed to pay the Federal Housing Finance Agency $5.5B to resolve the latter’s investigation into the UK government-controlled bank’s sale of toxic mortgage-backed securities to mortgage giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae leading up to the 2008 financial crisis. RBS has come under fire for the way it packaged and sold subprime mortgages. The violations allegedly involved private-label residential mortgage-backed securities (PLS) trusts that were purchased between 2005 and 2007.

RBS will pay Freddie Mac about $4.5B and approximately $975M to Fannie Mae to resolve this RMBS fraud case. However, the bank is eligible for a $754M reimbursement according to certain indemnification agreements.

RBS had previously reached, for $1.1B, separate settlements over similar MBS fraud claims that the US National Credit Union Administration had brought in Kansas and California. It remains under investigation by the US Department of Justice and several US agencies who are conducting their own mortgage-backed securities fraud probes.

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The State of California is suing Morgan Stanley (MS) for allegedly selling bad residential mortgaged backed securities. According to lawmakers, the firm sold residential mortgage-backed securities as risky loans to subprime lenders while downplaying or hiding the risks and at times encouraging credit raters to bestow the securities with high ratings that were not warranted. Because of these RMBS sales, contends the state, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CALPERS) and California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS) sustained devastating losses.

California claims that the firm violated the state’s False Claims Act and securities laws. A significant part of the case challenges Morgan Stanley’s behavior when marketing the Cheyne SIV, which was a structured investment vehicle that failed nine years ago. State Attorney General Kamala Harris is seeking $700M from the firm, as well as over $600M in damages.

Meantime, Morgan Stanley has argued that the case is meritless. It contends that the RMBSs were sold and marketed to institutional investors who were sophisticated enough to understand the investments. They claim that the RBMBs performed in a manner that was in line with the sector to which it belonged.

It was just recently that Moody’s Corp. reached an agreement with CalPERS to pay the California pension fund $130M to resolve allegations that the credit rating agency may have acted negligently by giving high ratings to toxic investments. CalPERS contended that its purchase of the investments cost it hundreds of millions of dollars.

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U.S. District Judge Judge Gregory Woods in Manhattan says that Bank of New York Mellon Corp. (BK) must face a residential mortgage-backed securities fraud lawsuit holding the bank liable for $1.12B of investor losses. Royal Park Investments SA/NV, which is a Belgian investment fund, may now proceed with its claims, including those alleging breach of trust, breach of contract, and Federal Trust Indenture Act violations.

In its case against BNY Mellon, Royal Park wants class action status for other investors. It claims that its RMBS in the trusts at issue are now “”completely worthless.”

The investment fund contends that BNY Mellon, in its role of trustee for five trusts, disregarded the abuse occurring in the way the underlying loans were serviced and underwritten and did not mandate that bad loans be bought back. Royal Park believes that BNY Mellon breached its obligations out of fear it would lose business or make other financial service companies angry.

Over the past year, the investment fund has been allowed to pursue similar cases against HSBC Holdings Plc. (HSBC) And Deutsche Bank AG (DB). In the investment fund’s case against Deutsche Bank. U.S. District Judge Alison J. Nathan in New York recently denied the bank’s bid to get the proposed class action over $3.1B in RMBS losses dismissed. She did, however, dismiss derivative claims. Royal Park claims that Deutsche Bank knew by April 2011 that loans involved were highly defective but refused to force loan sellers to buy back the loans or replace them when it became clear that the mortgages backing the bonds were defaulting. Nathan also said that the plaintiffs detailed claims of significant losses, high default rates, and widespread probes into RMBS securitization were sufficient that the court was able to draw “reasonable inference” that loan guarantees had been breached.

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Morgan Stanley Settles RMBS Case with FDIC
Morgan Stanley (MS) will pay $62.9M to resolve allegations that it misrepresented residential mortgage-backed securities prior to the 2008 financial crisis. The deal was reached with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., which sued the investment bank on behalf of Colonial Bank in Alabama, Security Savings Bank in Nevada, and United Western Bank in Colorado. All three banks failed after or during the crisis. By settling, Morgan Stanley is not denying or admitting liability.

According to the FDIC, in offering documents Morgan Stanley misrepresented claims for 14 RMBS mortgage backed securities. This is not the first time the investment bank has reached a deal over RMBS with the FDIC. In 2015, the firm resolved similar claims brought on behalf of Franklin Bank in Texas for $24M.

Also last year, Morgan Stanley arrived at a deal for $2.6B to resolve a U.S. Department of Justice probe into mortgage bonds. The government accused the investment bank of misrepresenting the quality of home loans packed into bonds.

Assett Management Firm Must Face RMBS Lawsuit Brought by Hedge Funds
A New York Court refused to grant TCW Asset Management Company’s motion to dismiss RMBS fraud claims brought Basis Yield Alpha Fund and Basis Pac-Rim Opportunity Fund. The Cayman Island hedge funds claim that TWC Asset Management marketed a system for dealing with the RMBS market that it claimed could determine which were the good investments. The purported strategy involved the collateralized debt obligation Dutch Hill Funding II, Ltd., which took a net long position on high-risk RMBS.

The two hedge funds invested over $28.1M in Dutch Hill in May 2007. By July, their investment had become worthless. They sued TCW Asset Management Company in 2012, accusing the firm of fraudulent misrepresentations and a failure to choose Dutch Hill’s RMBS collateral in the ways that it promised. The Basis Funds contended that the defendant knew that the investment strategy couldn’t get the job done.

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Performer Ne-Yo Files Countersuit Against Citibank Over Alleged $5.4M Securities Fraud
Singer Ne-Yo is suing Citibank (C), claiming that the financial institution should have had the proper safeguards and procedures in place that could have prevented his ex-money manager Kevin Foster from allegedly bilking him of $4.5M. The performer had filed a securities case against Foster and the latter’s employer, V. Brown & Co., in 2014.

Ne-Yo sought $8M. $4.5M of which Foster had purportedly swindled by moving funds out of the singer’s accounts to the money manager’s own accounts and the accounts of others. Ne-Yo sought $3.5M for service payments he says that he paid Foster and V. Brown between ’05 and ’13.

The performer claims that Foster forged his name on loan documents and took the money, including $1.4M from Citibank that the singer claims he never signed off on. Right before Ne-Yo sued his ex-manager, however, Citi filed its own lawsuit against him for the loan.

Now, Ne-Yo is saying that Citibank never told him of the numerous transactions made by Kevin, some of which involved his overdrawn account at the bank.

Sec Issues Over $700K Award to Whistleblower
The Securities and Exchange Commission is issuing an over $700K award to an individual who blew the whistle on a company. The information that the person provided led to a successful enforcement action. The whistleblower, an industry expert, was not employed at the company. This is the first time a company outsider has been issued this type of award since the SEC opened its whistleblower office in 2011.

Because the regulator protects the confidentiality of whistleblowers, the individual’s identity has not been revealed. SEC Enforcement Division Director Andrew Ceresney said that the agency values voluntary submissions by industry experts with ‘first-hand” information of wrongdoing committed by company insiders.”

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The Securities and Exchange Commission is charging AlphaBridge Capital Management and its two owners with fraudulently inflating the prices of securities in hedge fund portfolios that the firm managed. The feeder funds involved are the private funds AlphaBridge Fixed Income Partners, LP and the AlphaBridge Fixed Income Fund, Ltd.

The securities in question are inverse, interest-only floaters and interest only floaters. Both are tranches of collateralized mortgage obligations. To settle the charges, the Connecticut-based investment advisory firm and its owners, Michael J. Carino and Thomas T. Kutzen, will pay $5M.

According to the regulator, AlphaBridge told investors that broker-dealers provided it with independent price quotes for residential mortgaged-backed securities that were thinly traded and unlisted even though the firm derived these valuations internally. The hedge fund advisory firm purportedly told brokers to say that the valuations came from their brokerage firms.

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Bank of America Corp. (BAC) has paid American International Group Inc. (AIG) $650 million to settle residential mortgage-backed securities fraud claims. The insurer had originally asked for $10 billion when it filed its RMBS fraud lawsuit in 2011.

According to the complaint, Bank of America’s mortgage company Countrywide Financial, misrepresented the quality of mortgage securities it was selling to investors. The settlement resolves the securities fraud litigation brought by the insurer against the bank. This includes lawsuits in California and New York accusing Bank of America of fraudulently causing billions of dollars in losses.

It also takes away the largest obstacle to Bank of America’s $8.5 billion mortgage securities settlement with institutional investors over the financial instruments that Countrywide issued. The investors in that case are 22 institutions, including BlackRock Inc. (BLK.N), and MetLife Inc. (MET.N).

In North Carolina, U.S. District Judge Max O. Cogburn Jr. said that Bank of America Corp. (BAC) would have to face government two residential mortgage-backed securities lawsuits. The Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice contend that the bank misled investors about the quality of loans tied to $850 million in RMBS.

Bank of America wanted the cases dismissed. It argued that the investors, both financial institutions, never sued the bank.

Judge Cogburn, however, found that the SEC’s lawsuit properly laid out that the bank lied about the mortgages’ projected health in its RMBS fraud case. With the DOJ’s case, he gave the department 30 days to revise its securities lawsuit. He found that the Justice Department did not properly state its argument, which was that bank documents included false statements while leaving out key facts.