On February 6, a jury in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida found the CEO of the now-defunct Radius Capital Corp., Robert A. DiGiorgio, knowingly or recklessly made false or misleading statements to Ginnie Mae and the investing public in connection with US$23 million in MBS Radius issued in 2005 and 2006. The Securities and Exchange Commission, which brought the case, alleged that Radius and DiGiorgio violated federal securities laws and fraudulently induced Ginnie Mae to guarantee the bonds by representing that the underlying loans were or would be insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), when in fact the majority of the loans were ineligible. The suit alleged Radius employees routinely ignored FHA underwriting standards at DiGiorgio’s direction. In its verdict, the jury determined that Mr. DiGiorgio violated Sections 17(a)(1), (2), and (3) of the Securities Act of 1933, Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and Rules 10b-5(a), (b), and (c) promulgated thereunder. Verdict.
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.
On May 2, MBIA Insurance Corporation announced that it reached a settlement with Flagstar Bank in its lawsuit arising out of $1 billion in Flagstar-sponsored MBS that MBIA insured. MBIA sued Flagstar for breach of warranty under the insurance agreements, breach of the repurchase protocol, material breach of the insurance agreements, and reimbursement. MBIA alleged that representations and warranties made by Flagstar about the insured mortgage loans and about Flagstar’s operations and quality-control procedures were false. Under the terms of the Settlement Agreement, MBIA will receive $110 million in cash and other consideration in return for termination of the pending lawsuit. Press Release.
On Wednesday, June 6, 2012, Judge Barbara R. Kapnick granted the motions of the Attorneys General of the states of New York and Delaware to intervene in the proceeding to approve the $8.5 billion settlement between Bank of America and investors in certain Countrywide MBS. Both Attorneys General previously had been allowed to intervene in related federal court proceedings. The case was subsequently remanded to state court, where the New York and Delaware AGs again sought to intervene. In granting the motions over the objection of the trustee for the MBS trusts and certain institutional investors, Judge Kapnick found that the Attorneys General had “identified legitimate quasi-sovereign interests at play in this Proceeding,” and that the intervention would not result in undue delay. Order.
On May 25, 2012, Residential Capital LLC (“ResCap”) filed a complaint in United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York seeking declaratory and injunctive relief to extend the automatic stay over 27 MBS lawsuits against it, its affiliates, and its executives while it undergoes bankruptcy restructuring. ResCap alleges that all of the lawsuits against its non-debtor affiliates are inextricably connected to the debtor affiliates, and that such lawsuits will drain the debtors’ estates by forcing those entities to undergo extensive discovery and face significant indemnification claims by their directors and officers. ResCap also alleges that by allowing the lawsuits to proceed, ResCap will face significant risk of collateral estoppels and evidentiary prejudice. Complaint.
On April 30, 2012, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed a lower court’s denial of class certification in two putative class action lawsuits brought by New Jersey Carpenters Health Fund and Boilermaker Blacksmith National Pension Trust against Goldman Sachs and the Royal Bank of Scotland, respectively. The pension funds asserted claims under Sections 11, 12, and 15 of the Securities Act of 1933 for purported misrepresentations and omissions in various MBS offerings. In a non-precedential summary order, the Second Circuit held that the court below had used the correct standard in finding that the suits will require individualized inquiries into plaintiffs’ knowledge of the alleged misstatements or omissions and therefore declined to certify the proposed classes as defined. Decision.
On March 9, the SEC approved an amended proposed rule change, allowing the Mortgage-Backed Securities Division of the Fixed Income Clearing Corporation to provide guaranteed settlement and central counterparty services. SEC Release.
On February 7, Andrew Davidson & Co., Inc. hosted a roundtable discussion in Washington, D.C. on the topic of credit risk sharing by the GSEs. Participants representing a broad cross-section of the mortgage market discussed, among other things, the ways in which private capital can be invested in mortgage credit risk to provide protection to the taxpayer while the GSEs continue to provide liquidity for conforming MBS.
Summary of the roundtable discussion.
On February 1, the SEC issued a no-action letter to PNC Bank relating to Rule 15Ga-1 which, pursuant to Section 943 of the Dodd-Frank Act, requires ABS securitizers to disclose repurchase requests. The SEC indicated that it will not recommend enforcement action against a securitizer that does not file repurchase request disclosures with respect to Ginnie Mae MBS under certain circumstances. SEC No-Action Letter. Incoming PNC Request.
On December 5, 2011, lead plaintiff Public Employees’ Retirement System of Mississippi moved in the Southern District of New York for approval of a $315 million settlement with Merrill Lynch. In the class action lawsuit, plaintiff asserted claims under Sections 11, 12(a)(2), and 15 of the Securities Act of 1933, alleging that Merrill Lynch misrepresented the quality of the subprime mortgages underlying 84 different RMBS offerings. The proposed settlement was entered into after discovery had begun and following decisions of Merrill Lynch’s motion to dismiss and Plaintiff’s motion for class certification. Motion.