The Resolution Law Group: Bank of America’s Countrywide to Pay $17.3M RMBS Settlement to Massachusetts

According to Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, Countrywide Securities Corp. (CFC) will pay $17 million to settle residential mortgage backed securities claims. The settlement includes $6 million to be paid to the Commonwealth and $11.3 million to investors with the Pension Reserves Investment Management Board. Countrywide is a Bank of America (BAC) unit.

Coakley’s office was the first in the US to start probing and pursuing Wall Street securitization firms for their involvement in the subprime mortgage crisis. Other RMBS settlements Massachusetts has reached include: $34M from JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), $36M from Barclays Bank (ADR), $52 million from Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), $102 million from Morgan Stanley (MS), and $60 million from Goldman Sachs. (GS).

Meantime, a federal judge is expected to rule soon on how much Bank of America will pay in a securities fraud verdict related to the faulty mortgages that Countrywide sold investors. A jury had found the bank and ex-Countrywide executive Rebecca Mairone liable for defrauding Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae via the sale of loans through that banking unit. The US government wants Bank of America to pay $863.6 million in damages. Mairone denies any wrongdoing.

The case focused on “High Speed Swim Lane,” a mortgage lending process that rewarded employees for the volume of loans produced rather than the quality. Checkpoints that should have made sure the loans were solid were eliminated.

In other recent Countrywide news, a federal judge has given final approval to Bank of America’s $500 million settlement with investors who say the unit misled them, which is why they even invested in high-risk mortgage debt. A number of investors, including union and public pension funds, said they were given offering documents about home loans backing the securities that they purchased and that the content of this paperwork was misleading. They contend that a lot of securities came with high credit ratings that ended up falling to “junk status” as conditions in the market deteriorated.

This payout is the biggest thus far to resolve federal class action securities litigation involving mortgage-backed securities. The second largest was the $315 million reached with Merrill Lynch (MER), which is also a Bank of America unit. That agreement was approved in 2012.

Also, Bank of America was recently named the defendant in a lawsuit filed by the California city of Los Angeles over allegedly discriminatory lending practices that the plaintiff says played a part in causing foreclosures. LA is also suing Citigroup (C) and Wells Fargo (WFC).

The city says that Bank of America offered “predatory” loan terms that led to discrimination against minority borrowers. This resulted in foreclosures that caused the City’s property-tax revenues to decline. BofA, Wells Fargo, and Citibank have said that the claims are baseless.

If you feel you are the victim of Securities Fraud, please do not hesitate to email or call the The Resolution Law Group (203) 542-7275 for a confidential, no obligation consultation.

The Resolution Law Group: Merrill Lynch Settles with SEC Over CDO Disclosures for Almost $132M

The Securities and Exchange Commission says that Merrill Lynch Pierce Fenner & Smith Inc. (MER) will pay $131.8M to settle charges involving allegedly faulty derivatives disclosures. The regulator claims that the firm, which is the largest broker-dealer by client assets, misled investors about certain structured debt products before the economic crisis. By settling, Merrill is not denying or agreeing to the allegations. Also, the brokerage firm was quick to note that the matter for dispute occurred before Bank of America (BAC) acquired it.

According to the Commission, in 2006 and 2007 Merrill Lynch did not tell investors that Magnetar Capital impacted the choice of collateral that was behind specific debt products. The hedge fund purportedly hedged stock positions by shorting against Norma CDO I Ltd. and Octans I CDO Ltd., which are two collateral debt obligations that the firm was selling to customers.

The SEC contends that Merrill used misleading collateral to market these CDO investments. According to Division of Enforcement co-director George Canellos, the materials depicted an independent process for choosing collateral that benefited long-term debt investors and customers did not know about the role Magnetar Capital was playing to choose the underlying portfolios.

Also sanctioned by the SEC were Joseph Parish and Scott Shannon, two managing partners of IR Capital Management LLC. This was the investment adviser that took care of choosing collateral for the CDO Norma. They are accused of compromising their supposed lack of bias by letting a third party with its own interests affect the portfolio-selection process. The SEC says Shannon accepted assets that Magnetar chose while Parish let the hedge fund impact how other assets were selected. The two men will pay over $472,000 to settle the allegations against them and they were suspended from the industry.

Meantime, the US government continues to pursue Wall Street firms over their alleged misconduct involving the mortgage-backed securities creation that is attributed to helping cause investor losses during the financial crisis and the housing slump. The SEC has also pursued claims against Citigroup Inc. (C), Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS), and JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) over their involvement in structuring and promoting investments linked to home loans that were faulty.

If you suspect that you have been the victim of securities fraud, contact The Resolution Law Group’s CDO fraud lawyers today.  The Resolution Law Group represents investors with securities claims against financial firms, investment advisers, brokerage firms, brokers, and others. Contact our securities fraud law firm.

AIG Settles Ex-Executive’s $274M Lawsuit Over Alleged Failure to Pay Him During 2008 Economic Crisis

American Insurance Group (AIG) and one of its ex-executives, Kevin Fitzpatrick, have reached a settlement deal over his $274 million lawsuit against the insurer. Fitzpatrick, the former president of the AIG Global Real Estate Investment Corp. unit, claims that his then-employer would not pay him during the 2008 economic crisis. The insurer’s refusal to pay occurred not long after the US government said yes to the first part of what would turn into a $182 billion bailout.

Fitzpatrick, who worked for AIG for 22 years, said that AIG breached agreements it had with him and entities under his control. He claims the agreements entitled him to a share of profits made on the insurer’s real estate investments but that on October 2008 AIG stopped paying him and others who were entitled to profit distributions. Fitzpatrick then quit.

Fitzpatrick sued in 2009, claiming that AIG owed him $274 million and that he wanted interest and punitive damages, which is right around the time that the insurer was trying to get past public disapproval over $165 million in bonuses that were paid to employees in the AIG Financial Products unit. That is the group that handled the complex financial instruments that led to its huge losses.

AIG denied wrongdoing and said that Fitzpatrick was paid what he was owed. The insurer contended that Fitzpatrick actually was fired and that he stole data that was confidential and belonged to the company.

In other AIG-related news, a district court judge just threw out a shareholder lawsuit accusing Bank of America (BAC) of not telling them that the insurer was planning to sue the bank with a $10 billion fraud lawsuit. AIG accused Bank of America of misrepresenting the quality of more than $28 million of MBSs that AIG bought from the latter and its Countrywide and Merrill Lynch (MER) units.

If you feel you are the victim of Securities Fraud, please do not hesitate to email or call the The Resolution Law Group (203) 542-7275 for a confidential, no obligation consultation.

The Resolution Law Group: Five Years After Lehman’s Bankruptcy, How is the US Financial System Doing Now?

It was nearly five years ago on September 15, 2008 when the public learned that Lehman Brothers had gone bankrupt, resulting in billions of dollars of losses on a financial system already struggling with a housing market that was failing, as well as a growing credit crisis. Also, Merrill Lynch (MER) would be forced to join with Bank of America (BAC), the US car industry was in trouble, and insurer AIG stood on the brink of collapse. Now, while there has the economy has somewhat recovered, many Americans can’t help but worry that such a financial meltdown could happen again.

Back then, Wachovia (WB) was also in peril of going down and Washington Mutual (WAMUQ) was failing miserably—to become the biggest US banking failure to date—and government and financial industry leaders scrambled to save what they could. Bailouts were issued and emergency measures taken including: a federal takeover of housing finance giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, which kept the housing market going by allaying worries that the two entities would default on bonds,the guaranteeing of money market mutual funds that the then-trillion dollar industry depended on for the business short-term funding as well as retirement, and the setting up of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (allowing the Treasury to help put back confidence in banks via the buying of equities of securities in many of these banks and recapitalizing the system.

In a USA Today article, ex-US senator Christopher Dodd said that he believes there will be another crisis; only this one could also involve China, Brazil, and India—not just the US and the European continent. Meantime, while US Chamber of Commerce’s Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness CEO and President David Hirschmann said that a crisis as big as the one in 2008 is not as likely, he predicts there will still be failures. He also said that it is unclear whether we’ve established a better system for identifying problems and risks.

In August, US President Obama delineated a proposal to rework the country’s housing finance-system, which would phase out Freddie and Fannie. While putting them under government control a few years back provided some reprieve, this was never meant to be permanent solution to the problems that happened.

Also in the article, ex-US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said he wants broader industry reform and while he believes the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Act is a big move n the right direction, he expressed the need for a reworking of the federal financial regulatory agencies and a closer examination of their duties, which sometimes overlap. There also have been calls from government watchdogs for reforms to the biggest US banks because of concerns that their interrelatedness and complexities make them an ongoing risk to the financial system.

If you feel you are the victim of Broker Fraud, please do not hesitate to email or call the The Resolution Law Group (203) 542-7275 for a confidential, no obligation consultation.

 

The Resolution Law Group: US gov’t accuses Bank of America of civil fraud in sale of $850M of mortgage bonds in 2008

WASHINGTONThe U.S. government has accused Bank of America Corp. of civil fraud, saying the company failed to disclose risks and misled investors in its sale of $850 million of mortgage bonds during 2008.

The Justice Department filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the bank and several subsidiaries in federal court in Charlotte, N.C., where Bank of America is based. The Securities and Exchange Commission filed a related lawsuit against Bank of America there, too.

Bank of America disputed the allegations.

The lawsuits accuse the second-largest U.S. bank of misleading investors about the risks of the mortgages tied to the securities.

And the government said the bank failed to tell investors that more than 70 percent of the mortgages backing the investment were written by mortgage brokers outside the banks’ network. That made the mortgages more vulnerable to default, they said. The bank disclosed the percentage of such mortgage loans in the investment only to a select group of investors, the suits alleged.

Bank of America could face monetary penalties. The government didn’t specify how much it is seeking, but it estimated that investors lost more than $100 million on the deal.

Bank of America’s CEO at the time described those mortgages as “toxic waste,” the SEC said.

“Bank of America’s reckless and fraudulent … practices in the lead-up to the financial crisis caused significant losses to investors,” Anne Tompkins, the U.S. attorney for the Western District of North Carolina, said in a statement. “Now, Bank of America will have to face the consequences of its actions.”

Bank of America said it will refute the government’s allegations in court.

“These were prime mortgages sold to sophisticated investors who had ample access to the underlying data and we will demonstrate that,” company spokesman Lawrence Grayson said in a statement. “The loans in this pool performed better than loans with similar characteristics (made and packaged into securities) at the same time by other financial institutions.”

“We are not responsible for the housing market collapse that caused mortgage loans to default at unprecedented rates and these securities to lose value as a result,” Grayson added.

The action was brought by a financial-fraud enforcement task force set up to pursue cases related to the 2008 financial crisis. The Justice Department lawsuit marks the most high-profile action brought by the Obama administration over conduct related to the financial crisis since the department sued credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s in February. That lawsuit alleged that S&P knowingly inflated its ratings of risky mortgage investments ahead of the crisis.

S&P, a unit of McGraw-Hill Cos., has rejected the allegations.

The actions against S&P and Bank of America followed years of criticism that the government had failed to do enough to hold accountable those companies that contributed to the crisis.

When the real estate bubble burst in 2007, home values plunged and millions of people defaulted on their mortgages and lost their homes. Investors who bought securities backed by high-risk mortgages lost billions. Regulators have said that inaccurate statements by banks in packaging and selling mortgage bonds contributed to the investors’ losses.

The lawsuit “marks the latest step forward in the Justice Department’s ongoing efforts to hold accountable those who engage in fraudulent or irresponsible conduct,” Attorney General Eric Holder said.

Bank of America received $45 billion in federal bailout aid during the crisis. It became one of the biggest players in the mortgage market through its acquisitions of Merrill Lynch and Countrywide Financial, which wrote many high-risk mortgages that contributed to the crisis.

Bank of America has been dogged by litigation largely as a result of those acquisitions. The bank has had to pay tens of billions of dollars to settle class-action lawsuits and previous actions brought by the SEC.

If you feel you are the victim of Mortgage Fraud, please do not hesitate to email or call the The Resolution Law Group (203) 542-7275 for a confidential, no obligation consultation.

Lender Litigation, Unlawful Foreclosure, Tarp Money, Mortgage Backed Securities, Derivitives Lawsuits, Insider Trading Lawsuit, SEC Settlements, Ponzi Scheme Lawsuits, Intentional Misrepresentation, Securitized Mortgage, Class Action Securities Lawsuit, Robo-Signing Lawsuit, Lost Equity Litigation, Mortgage Lender Fraud, FINRA Fraud Lawsuit, Suing Banks, Fraudulent Misrepresentation, Short Sale Fraud, Fraudulent Business Practices, Mortgage Litigation, Complex Tort Litigation, Injunctive Relief, MERS Fraud

The Resolution Law Group: UBS to Pay Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac $885M to Settle RMBS Lawsuit

UBS (UBS) will pay $885 million to settle Federal Housing Finance Agency to settle allegations that it misrepresented mortgage-backed bonds during the housing bubble. $415 million of the mortgage settlement will go to Fannie Mae, while $470 million will be paid to Freddie Mac, both government-sponsored enterprises, over the $200 million in mortgage-backed securities that were sold to them.

According to FHFA, UBS misrepresented the quality of loans that were underlying residential mortgage-backed securities worth billions of dollars that Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae ended up buying. Both firms were seized in 2008 when losses from subprime mortgages brought them close to insolvency. They still are under US conservatorship.

UBS is the third to settle with FHFA over RMBS allegations. Citigroup (C) and General Electric Co. (GE) were the first.

The federal regulator is suing 18 banks, and already, Deutsche Bank (DB) and Credit Suisse (CS) have put money aside for their potential settlements. Analysts are estimating that European banks may end up paying $11 billion for mortgage-related litigation in the US, with Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) perhaps having to pay $1.6 billion, HSBC $900 million, and Barclays (BCS) $1.1 billion.

Other banks that FHFA is suing on behalf of Freddie and Fannie:

Bank of America Corp. (BAC)
Countrywide Financial Corp.
• Ally Financial
• First Horizon National Corporation
Goldman Sachs & Co. (GS)
JPMorgan Chase 7 Co. (JPM)
• HSBC North America Holdings, Inc.
Morgan Stanley (MS)
Merrill Lynch & Co. (MER)
• Nomura Holding America Inc.
• Société Générale

The securities complaints were filed in state and federal courts and invoke government is seeking, in addition to compensatory damages  GE was the first to settle FHFA’s mortgage bond case against it. The company was one of the underwriters to the RMBS that were sold to Fannie and Freddie. The terms of the settlement, however, remain confidential. However, FHFA did accuse GE of misleading Freddie Mac into purchasing $549 million of securities.  Citibank’s RMBS settlement with FHFA was also resolved with the terms left confidential. That mortgage-backed securities lawsuit was over allegations that it misled Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae into purchasing $3.5B of the securities.
Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities
RMBS are a type of MBS with a cash flow that comes from, residential debt, including home-equity loans, residential mortgages, and subprime mortgages, rather than commercial debt. At The Resolution Law Group, our securities lawyers help investors that suffered losses from mortgage-backed securities in getting their investments back from negligent brokerage firms, brokers, and investment advisers. We represent corporations, high net worth individuals, banks, partnerships, financial firms, private foundations, large trusts, charitable organizations, school districts, retirement plans, and municipalities.

If you feel you are the victim of Mortgage Fraud, please do not hesitate to email or call the The Resolution Law Group (203) 542-7275 for a confidential, no obligation consultation.

Lender Litigation, Unlawful Foreclosure, Tarp Money, Mortgage Backed Securities, Derivitives Lawsuits, Insider Trading Lawsuit, SEC Settlements, Ponzi Scheme Lawsuits, Intentional Misrepresentation, Securitized Mortgage, Class Action Securities Lawsuit, Robo-Signing Lawsuit, Lost Equity Litigation, Mortgage Lender Fraud, FINRA Fraud Lawsuit, Suing Banks, Fraudulent Misrepresentation, Short Sale Fraud, Fraudulent Business Practices, Mortgage Litigation, Complex Tort Litigation, Injunctive Relief, MERS Fraud

The Resolution Law Group: Detroit Becomes Largest US City to File Bankruptcy Protection

In what is now the country’s largest public bankruptcy, the city of Detroit has filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, who filed for the protection along with Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, said that that there was no other alternative.

Investors who purchased securities issued by the city of Detroit at the recommendation of a financial advisor may have a claim to recover some or all of their losses. Please contact our securities fraud law firm to request your free case assessment.

At a joint news conference held by the two men, Snyder spoke about the need to bring to a halt to the city’s 60-year decline. He noted that 38% of Detroit’s budget is going to debt service, pensions, and other “legacy costs.” He also said  40% of street lights don’t work and, unlike the police response time national average of 11 minutes, the city’s police take nearly an hour to show up.

Detroit’s total liabilities are about $18 billion. Orr has already stopped paying about $2 billion of the city’s debt. His reorganization plan involves reducing $11.5 billion in debt to $2 billion, with retirees and investors getting just 17% of what is due to them.

According to CNN, public employee unions are expected to oppose the filing. They contend that Detroit did not exhibit good faith negotiation and it should not be able to get out of commitments it made to retirees and employees.

Needless to say, city employees and retirees won’t be happy if any of their pension benefits are cut. While the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp. will usually intervene to offer minimum benefits when employees of a business that has gone bankrupt lose the pensions promised to them, the federal agency isn’t responsible for pensions in the public sector.

Deals are also in the works for the city to potentially pay bond holders Bank of America (BAC) and Merrill Lynch (MER) 75 cents on the dollar—that’s close to $340 million in secured debt, report some sources.

The Wall Street Journal says that per media reports and public filings, while it is not known at this time which of the city’s assets would have to be sold, possible contenders include a Van Gogh painting, the Detroit Zoo, Fort Wayne, or even all its assets.

Orr plans for the bankruptcy to be completed by the “summer or fall” of 2013. The process could cost Detroit hundreds of million dollars in financial and legal expenses.

Detroit’s bankruptcy filing will likely cause reverberations. Bankruptcies could make it harder for towns and cities to raise the funds to construct schools, bridges, and other infrastructures. Individual investor-held municipal bonds could also take a hit.

Chapter 9 Bankruptcy Per the US Courts website, Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection is for municipalities. It enables them to come up with a plan so they can deal with their debts. It is up to a city or its to decide whether to liquidate its assets.

If you feel you are the victim of Securities Fraud, please do not hesitate to email or call the The Resolution Law Group (203) 542-7275 for a confidential, no obligation consultation.

Lender Litigation, Unlawful Foreclosure, Tarp Money, Mortgage Backed Securities, Derivitives Lawsuits, Insider Trading Lawsuit, SEC Settlements, Ponzi Scheme Lawsuits, Intentional Misrepresentation, Securitized Mortgage, Class Action Securities Lawsuit, Robo-Signing Lawsuit, Lost Equity Litigation, Mortgage Lender Fraud, FINRA Fraud Lawsuit, Suing Banks, Fraudulent Misrepresentation, Short Sale Fraud, Fraudulent Business Practices, Mortgage Litigation, Complex Tort Litigation, Injunctive Relief, MERS Fraud