Bank of America Settles RMBS Securities Claims for US$9.3 Billion

On March 26, Bank of America and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), as conservator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, announced a settlement of FHFA’s RMBS-related suits against the Bank.  The Bank has agreed to pay approximately US$9.3 billion to settle allegations that it violated federal and state securities laws in connection with private-label RMBS purchased by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac between 2005 and 2007.  Pursuant to the agreement, approximately US$5.83 billion will be allocated by FHFA to settle all claims asserted in four lawsuits brought by FHFA against Bank of America, Countrywide, and Merrill Lynch, and the remainder will be allocated to repurchases by Bank of America of RMBS held by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  Bank of America Press ReleaseFHFA Press ReleaseSettlement Agreement.

Société Générale Agrees to $122M Settlement in RMBS Suit

On February 27, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced that it reached a settlement with French bank Société Générale of an RMBS suit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.  FHFA alleged violations of federal and state securities law in connection with RMBS purchased by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2006.  The settlement agreement contains no admission of liability or wrongdoing.  Société Générale and four of its subsidiaries will pay $122 million dollars to the agency.   Press Release.

Court Denies BofA’s Motion to Reconsider Use of FHFA Documents Produced in Other RMBS Litigation

On February 14, Judge Denise Cote of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York denied Bank of America’s request to reconsider the court’s earlier order disallowing use of documents produced by plaintiff Federal Housing Finance Agency in a case against Countrywide pending in California.  The court found that the parties had obtained sufficient documents to litigate the claims and defenses at issue and that allowing a party to use documents from other litigation in motion practice or at trial would undermine the discovery procedures established by the Court.  Order.

FHFA and Deutsche Bank Reach RMBS Settlement

On December 20, the Federal Housing Finance Agency announced it had reached a settlement for $1.925 billion with Deutsche Bank AG to resolve claims pending in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York related to the sale of private-label RMBS between 2005 and 2007.  The FHFA asserted claims for violations of federal and state securities laws on the basis of allegedly false and misleading statements and omissions in the registration statements and prospectuses of securities sold to Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.  Press Release.

FHFA Increase of Guarantee Fees

On December 9, the FHFA, in connection with its fulfillment of the ‘Strategic Plan for Enterprise Conservatorships,’ directed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to raise their guarantee fees in three separate components: (i) increase the base (or ongoing) fee by 10 basis points; (ii) update the upfront grid to better align pricing with the credit risk characteristics of the borrower; and (iii) eliminate the upfront 25 basis point adverse market fee except in the four states where foreclosure carrying costs are more than two standard deviations greater than the national average.  For loans exchanged for MBS, the price changes will be effective starting April 1, 2014.  For loans sold for cash, the price changes will be effective starting March 1, 2014.  FHFA Release.

Final Rules on Appraisal Exemptions for Higher-Priced Mortgages

On December 12, the Fed, FDIC, CFPB, FHFA, NCUA and OCC issued a final rule that creates exemptions from certain appraisal requirements for certain higher-priced mortgage loans.  The final rule provides that loans of $25,000 or less and certain “streamlined” refinancings are exempt from the Dodd-Frank Act appraisal requirements, which go into effect on January 18, 2014.  Joint ReleaseJoint Final Rule.