On May 11, 2015, Judge Denise Cote of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York found Nomura Holdings Inc. liable for inaccurately characterizing the mortgage loan collateral backing seven RMBS certificates it sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac between 2005 and 2007. The suit against Nomura is the last that remains of sixteen lawsuits originally filed against by FHFA against RMBS issuers and sellers alleging violations of Sections 12(a)(2) and 15 of the 1933 Securities Act and state securities laws. Judge Cote’s decision followed a nearly 4-week bench trial that concluded on April 9, 2015.
In a 361-page decision, Judge Cote found, among other things, that 45% to 59% of the sample loans were materially defective insofar as they deviated from relevant underwriting guidelines, and that 27% of the sample loans were subject to inflated appraisals. Judge Cote treated this as strong circumstantial evidence that the appraisers did not believe in the credibility of their appraisals at the time that they were made. Additionally, Judge Cote found that inadequacies in credit ratings of the offered certificates were due to inaccurate loan tapes Nomura provided to the rating agencies. Finally, Judge Cote found that Nomura’s due diligence practices were insufficient, and rejected Nomura’s argument that market conditions, and not the misrepresentations, caused the losses alleged. Judge Cote did not specify the amount of damages and asked the parties to submit a proposed judgment by May 15, 2015. Opinion and Order.
On April 30, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) released a report providing the results of annual stress tests Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are required to undergo under the Dodd-Frank Act. The report provide updated information on possible ranges of future financial results for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac under severely adverse economic conditions. Press Release. Report.
On February 3, Judge Jed S. Rakoff of the United States District Court of the Southern District of New York denied Bank of America Corporation’s and Rebecca Mairone’s motion for judgment as a matter of law, or, in the alternative a new trial. The jury found Bank of America and Mairone liable under the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act (FIRREA) for the sale of mortgage loans to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac before the financial crisis. Judge Rakoff found that the jury’s October 23, 2013 verdict was supported by sufficient evidence. Order.
On January 30, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) today proposed new minimum financial eligibility requirements for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Seller/Servicers. The proposed minimum financial requirements include net worth, capital ratio and liquidity criteria for the Enterprises’ Seller/Servicers. FHFA is releasing the proposed criteria to provide greater transparency, clarity and consistency to industry participants and other stakeholders, and anticipates finalizing these requirements in the second quarter of 2015. Release.
On January 27, 2015 the FHFA Director, Melvin L. Watt, testified in front of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Financial Services. Director Watt’s testimony provided, amongst other items, an update on the financial condition of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the financial condition of the Federal Home Loan Banks. Release.
On January 14, FHFA released the 2015 Scorecard outlining specific priorities for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and their joint venture, Common Securitization Solutions, LLC. The Scorecard assesses Fannie and Freddie’s performance under FHFA’s Strategic Plan for Fannie and Freddie and furthers the goals outlined thereunder, including building a new single-family securitization infrastructure for use by the Enterprises. Release. Scorecard. Strategic Plan.
On November 3, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac jointly announced the first CEO of Common Securitization Solutions, LLC (CSS), which was established by the companies to design, develop, build and operate the Common Securitization Platform, a new secondary mortgage market infrastructure. Additionally, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac entered into governance and operating agreements for CSS. Release.
On June 5, FHFA announced it is requesting input on the guarantee fees charged by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to lenders. The request includes questions about the optimum level of fees and implications for mortgage credit availability. Press Release. Request
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.
On January 8, the FHFA announced that it has directed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to delay the implementation of the increases to the guarantee fees that were originally to be effective in March and April 2014. FHFA Release.