No doubt, this is the biggest litigation assault on the banks to date. The agency is seeking more than $190 billion total from the defendants. Just take a look at some of the banks’ exposure:
The FHFA wants JPMorgan Chase to give back $33 billion, which represents the amount that Fannie and Freddie spent on residential mortgage-backed securities purchased from JPMorgan or Washington Mutual (which JPMorgan acquired). Countrywide, now owned by Bank of America, sold $26.6 billion of these securities to Fannie and Freddie, and the FHFA wants all that money back, along with $6.5 billion that Bank of America itself received from MBS sales. The FHFA wants $30.4 from Royal Bank of Scotland, $11.1 billion from Goldman Sachs, and $14.1 billion from Credit Suisse.
You can read the FHFA’s press release here, and find links to all the lawsuits here.
Most of the suits were filed in Manhattan federal court. Four suits were filed in New York state court: the actions against Ally/GMAC, Morgan Stanley, General Electric, and Countrywide. One suit, against Royal Bank of Scotland was filed in Connecticut state court. They allege a variety of securities law violations, as well as common law fraud, and negligent misrepresentation. Each of these complaints in essence alleges that the issuers of these mortgage-backed securities misrepresented the quality of the loans that were bundled into these securities.
In a preview to these actions, Quinn Emanuel in July filed a similar suit against UBS on behalf of the FHFA. It’s not clear why that suit was filed early, although it’s possible that the FHFA could not reach a tolling agreement with UBS. Most of the other defendants agreed to toll the statute of limitations, according to the complaints.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Deutsche Bank and Bank of America denied the allegations. “We will vigorously defend against this action,” Deutsche Bank said in a statement, adding that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac often hand picked the loans included in these offerings. Bank of America also noted in a statement that Fannie and Freddie “continued to invest heavily in those securities even after their regulator told them they did not have the risk management capabilities to do so.” Representatives of Barclays, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Goldman, J.P. Morgan, Nomura and RBS declined to comment to the Journal. Other bank representatives couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.