MassMutual and RBS Settle RMBS Litigation

On August 12, 2016, Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co. (“MassMutual”) and RBS jointly moved to dismiss MassMutual’s $235 million RMBS claim, stating that the parties had reached a confidential settlement agreement. MassMutual filed the lawsuit in 2011, alleging violations of the Massachusetts Uniform Securities Act.  MassMutual claimed that the defendants made material misrepresentations about the characteristics of mortgage loans that RBS securitized in transactions in which MassMutual invested between 2005 and 2007.  The court entered a final dismissal order on August 15, 2016.  Joint Motion of Dismissal. Order of Dismissal. MassMutual settled similar claims against Barclays Capital Inc. on March 29, 2016 (covered here).

Ninth Circuit Revives RMBS Claims against Nomura

On August 15, 2016, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the Central District of California’s order dismissing claims brought by the National Credit Union Administration Board (“NCUA”), as liquidating agent of Western Corporate Federal Credit Union (“Wescorp”), against Nomura Home Equity Loan, Inc. (“Nomura”) under the Securities Act of 1933.  In 2014, the district court granted Nomura’s motion to dismiss claims that it had made materially false and misleading statements in the offering documents in respect of certificates sold to Wescorp in 2006 and 2007, holding that the NCUA’s claims were barred by the statute of repose established in Section 13 of the 1933 Act, which runs three years after the securities were offered or sold.  The Ninth Circuit disagreed with the district court, concluding that both the text and the legislative purpose of the Extender Statute in the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989 (“FIRREA”) indicate that Congress intended it to supplant the 1933 Act statute of repose and to further a policy of “protecting the government’s right to recovery.” Opinion at 13.  The Ninth Circuit further concluded that, although the text of the Extender Statute only mentions contract and tort claims, because its dictate is to cover “all actions” brought by the NCUA, it also applies to statutory claims, such as the 1933 Act claims at issue in this case.  Thus, the Ninth Circuit held that the NCUA’s claims against Nomura are not time-barred and remanded the case to the Central District for further proceedings. Summary.

 

European Commission Implementing Regulation on Information for Calculation of Technical Provisions and Basic Own Funds for Q3 2016 Reporting under Solvency II Enters into Force

On August 18, 2016, the European Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2016/1376 laying down technical information for the calculation of technical provisions and basic own funds for reporting with reference dates from June 30 until September 26, 2016 in accordance with the Solvency II Directive was published in the Official Journal of the EU following its adoption by the European Commission on 8 August.  The Implementing Regulation entered into force on August 19, 2016 (the day after publication in the Official Journal) and applies from June 30, 2016.

The purpose of the Implementing Regulation is to ensure uniform conditions for the calculation of technical provisions and basic own funds by insurance and reinsurance undertakings for the purposes of the Solvency II Directive by laying down technical information on relevant risk-free interest rate term structures, fundamental spreads for the calculation of the matching adjustment and volatility adjustments for every reference date.

Under the Implementing Regulation, insurance and reinsurance undertakings shall use the technical information provided in the annexures to the Implementing Regulation when calculating technical provisions and basic own funds for reporting with reference dates from June 30 until September 29, 2016.

Bill Introduced in Congress to Make “Valid When Made” the Law of the Land

 

Chief Deputy Whip Patrick McHenry (R, NC-10), the Vice Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, introduced H.R. 5724, the Protecting Consumers’ Access to Credit Act of 2016, which would reaffirm the longstanding legal precedent under the National Bank Act and the Federal Deposit Insurance Act that federal law preempts a loan’s interest if valid when made. The legislation was introduced to address one of the issues raised by the Second Circuit in Madden vs. Midland Funding. Legislation.

Rating Agency Developments

 

On August 16, Moody’s supplemented its approach to rating residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) in China. Report.

On August 16, Fitch updated its country ceilings cross-sector criteria report. Report.

On August 16, Fitch updated its criteria for rating sukuk. Report.

On August 15, Moody’s updated its rating methodology for U.S. charter schools. Report.

On August 12, Fitch published its U.S. residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) non-performing loans rating criteria. Report.

On August 12, Fitch updated its solid waste revenue bond rating criteria. Report.

On August 11, Fitch updated its criteria for rating currency swap obligations of an SPV in structured finance transactions and covered bonds. Report.

On August 11, Fitch updated its criteria for rating tolled roads, bridges and tunnels. Report.

On August 11, Moody’s updated its approach to rating securities backed by FFELP student loans. Report.

New Jersey Appellate Court Clarifies Definition of Compensation under Advisers Act

 

On August 12, 2016, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed the decision of the District Court of New Jersey and held in United States v. Everett C. Miller that the defendant was an “investment adviser” within the meaning of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 (the “Advisers Act”), notwithstanding defendant’s arguments that he did receive “compensation” and was not engaged “in the business” of acting as an investment adviser.

The Advisers Act does not explicitly define “compensation” or what constitutes being engaged “in the business.”  Consequently, the Court of Appeals based its decision on a 1987 Release issued by the Staff of the Securities and Exchange Commission (Investment Advisers Release No. 1092) which states, in part: “The Staff considers a person to be ‘in the business’ of providing advice if the person . . . holds himself out as an investment adviser or as one who provides investment advice.” In reaching its decision that the defendant provided advice for “compensation,” the Court recognized that the Advisers Act also does not define “compensation.”  The Court again cited the SEC Release which defines compensation as “any economic benefit, whether in the form of an advisory fee or some other fee relating to the total services, rendered, commissions, or some combination of the foregoing . . .” and concluded that: “It is not necessary that an investor pay a discrete fee specifically earmarked as payment for investment advice.”  Opinion.

New York Intermediate Appellate Court Holds that Accrual Provision Does Not Save RMBS Trustee’s Time-Barred Putback Claim

 

On August 11, 2016, the First Department of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of the State of New York affirmed dismissal of an action brought by Deutsche Bank National Trust Company, as RMBS Trustee, against Quicken Loans, Inc. Following the New York Court of Appeals decision in the closely-followed case of ACE Securities Corp., Home Equity Loan Trust, Series 2006-SL2 v. DB Structured Products, Inc. (covered here) – which held that a breach of contract claim in an RMBS putback action accrues on the date the representations and warranties are made – the First Department concluded Deutsche Bank’s action was time-barred, notwithstanding the presence of an accrual provision in the transaction documents that might have otherwise delayed the accrual of putback claims indefinitely. The decision holds that such accrual provisions are unenforceable attempts to extend the statute of limitations. Order.

New York Appellate Court Allows Fraud Claim to Proceed Against Morgan Stanley

On August 11, 2016, the First Department of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of the State of New York affirmed a trial court ruling that investor-plaintiff IKB International to proceed with claims that RMBS sponsor and underwriter Morgan Stanley knowingly misrepresented loans’ credit quality and characteristics. The Court affirmed a ruling that justifiable reliance was adequately pleaded as the complaint contained allegations that (i) plaintiffs hired investment advisors to analyze the offering documents for the 18 RMBS deals at issue; and (ii) plaintiffs lacked the access to (and the ability to demand) loan files prior to purchase.

Additionally, the Court agreed that the plaintiffs adequately pleaded the fraud element of scienter by alleging that Morgan Stanly learned about the loans’ defects during the course of its own due diligence reviews, and in its role as underwriter. Order.

New York Appellate Court Reverse Lower Court, Allows RMBS Action to Proceed Against Morgan Stanley

 

On August 11, 2016, the First Department of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of the State of New York reversed the lower court, allowing RMBS Trustee U.S. Bank to proceed with claims against Morgan Stanley in connection with alleged losses of $140 million resulting from the sale of allegedly defective loans. Following its own ruling from last year (covered here), the First Department again concluded that the alleged failure to notify securitization counterparties of breaches of representations and warranties constitutes a viable cause of action independent from claims arising from the alleged breaches themselves. The First Department also reversed dismissal of the plaintiff’s gross negligence claims noting that – notwithstanding language in the governing contract’s sole remedy provision – the law does not permit a party to insulate itself from paying for damages arising from its grossly negligent conduct. Order.

WMC Settles $1 Billion RMBS Suit During Pendency Of Appeal

 

On August 9, 2016, RMBS trustee Deutsche Bank National Trust Company and WMC Mortgage, LLC, filed a joint motion to stay an appeal pending in the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The parties requested the stay to allow them time to finalize the settlement of a lawsuit alleging that WMC misrepresented the quality of loans it sold in a $1 billion 2006 RMBS offering. The trial court had previously dismissed the lawsuit in 2015 (covered here) as time-barred under New York’s six-year statute of limitations. Joint Motion.