SEC Charges Goldman Sachs With Fraud: Complaint Reveals Discovery Tips

see comp-pr2010-59 SEC Complaint V GS Fraud

“The Commission seeks injunctive relief, disgorgement of profits, prejudgment interest and civil penalties from both defendants.” Editor’s Note: Here is where the rubber meets the road. This same pool of illegal fraudulent profit is also subject to being defined as an undisclosed yield spread premium due to the borrowers. Some enterprising class action lawyer has some low hanging fruit here — the class is already defined for you by the SEC — all those homeowners subject to loan documents that were pledged or transferred into a pool which was received or incorporated by reference into this Abacus vehicle)


Litigation Release No. 21489 / April 16, 2010

Securities and Exchange Commission v. Goldman, Sachs & Co. and Fabrice Tourre, 10 Civ. 3229 (BJ) (S.D.N.Y. filed April 16, 2010)

The SEC Charges Goldman Sachs With Fraud In Connection With The Structuring And Marketing of A Synthetic CDO

The Securities and Exchange Commission today filed securities fraud charges against Goldman, Sachs & Co. (“GS&Co”) and a GS&Co employee, Fabrice Tourre (“Tourre”), for making material misstatements and omissions in connection with a synthetic collateralized debt obligation (“CDO”) GS&Co structured and marketed to investors. This synthetic CDO, ABACUS 2007-AC1, was tied to the performance of subprime residential mortgage-backed securities (“RMBS”) and was structured and marketed in early 2007 when the United States housing market and the securities referencing it were beginning to show signs of distress. Synthetic CDOs like ABACUS 2007-AC1 contributed to the recent financial crisis by magnifying losses associated with the downturn in the United States housing market.

According to the Commission’s complaint, the marketing materials for ABACUS 2007-AC1 — including the term sheet, flip book and offering memorandum for the CDO — all represented that the reference portfolio of RMBS underlying the CDO was selected by ACA Management LLC (“ACA”), a third party with expertise in analyzing credit risk in RMBS. Undisclosed in the marketing materials and unbeknownst to investors, a large hedge fund, Paulson & Co. Inc. (“Paulson”) [Editor’s Note: Brad Keiser in his forensic analyses has reported that Paulson may have been a principal in OneWest which took over Indymac and may have ties with former Secretary of Treasury Henry Paulson, former GS CEO], with economic interests directly adverse to investors in the ABACUS 2007-AC1 CDO played a significant role in the portfolio selection process. After participating in the selection of the reference portfolio, Paulson effectively shorted the RMBS portfolio it helped select by entering into credit default swaps (“CDS”) with GS&Co to buy protection on specific layers of the ABACUS 2007-AC1 capital structure. Given its financial short interest, Paulson had an economic incentive to choose RMBS that it expected to experience credit events in the near future. GS&Co did not disclose Paulson’s adverse economic interest or its role in the portfolio selection process in the term sheet, flip book, offering memorandum or other marketing materials.
The Commission alleges that Tourre was principally responsible for ABACUS 2007-AC1. According to the Commission’s complaint, Tourre devised the transaction, prepared the marketing materials and communicated directly with investors. Tourre is alleged to have known of Paulson’s undisclosed short interest and its role in the collateral selection process. He is also alleged to have misled ACA into believing that Paulson invested approximately $200 million in the equity of ABACUS 2007-AC1 (a long position) and, accordingly, that Paulson’s interests in the collateral section process were aligned with ACA’s when in reality Paulson’s interests were sharply conflicting. The deal closed on April 26, 2007. Paulson paid GS&Co approximately $15 million for structuring and marketing ABACUS 2007-AC1. By October 24, 2007, 83% of the RMBS in the ABACUS 2007-AC1 portfolio had been downgraded and 17% was on negative watch. By January 29, 2008, 99% of the portfolio had allegedly been downgraded. Investors in the liabilities of ABACUS 2007-AC1 are alleged to have lost over $1 billion. Paulson’s opposite CDS positions yielded a profit of approximately $1 billion.

The Commission’s complaint, which was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, charges GS&Co and Tourre with violations of Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933, 15 U.S.C. §77q(a), Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, 15 U.S.C. §78j(b) and Exchange Act Rule 10b-5, 17 C.F.R. §240.10b-5. The Commission seeks injunctive relief, disgorgement of profits, prejudgment interest and civil penalties from both defendants.

The Commission’s investigation is continuing into the practices of investment banks and others that purchased and securitized pools of subprime mortgages and the resecuritized CDO market with a focus on products structured and marketed in late 2006 and early 2007 as the U.S. housing market was beginning to show signs of distress.

If the Bank of England wants this information, how can this court deem it irrelevant?


If the Bank of England wants this information, how can this court deem it irrelevant? NOTE: BOE defines investors as note-holders.
information on the remaining life, balance and prepayments on a loan; data on the current valuation and loan-to-value ratios on underlying property and collateral; and interest rate details, like the current rate and reset levels. In addition, the central bank said it wants to see loan performance information like the number and value of payments in arrears and details on bankruptcy, default or foreclosure actions.
Editor’s Note: As Gretchen Morgenstern points out in her NY Times article below, the Bank of England is paving the way to transparent disclosures in mortgage backed securities. This in turn is a guide to discovery in American litigation. It is also a guide for questions in a Qualified Written Request and the content of a forensic analysis.
What we are all dealing with here is asymmetry of information, which is another way of saying that one side has information and the other side doesn’t. The use of the phrase is generally confined to situations where the unequal access to information is intentional in order to force the party with less information to rely upon the party with greater information. The party with greater information is always the seller. The party with less information is the buyer. The phrase is most often used much like “moral hazard” is used as a substitute for lying and cheating.
borrower details (unique loan identifiers); nominal loan amounts; accrued interest; loan maturity dates; loan interest rates; and other reporting line items that are relevant to the underlying loan portfolio (ie borrower location, loan to value ratios, payment rates, industry code). The initial loan portfolio information reporting requirements would be consistent with the ABS loan-level reporting requirements detailed in paragraph 42 in this consultative document. Data would need to be regularly updated, it is suggested on a weekly basis, given the possibility of unexpected loan repayments.
42 The Bank has considered the loan-level data fields which
it considers would be most relevant for residential mortgage- backed securities (RMBS) and covered bonds and sets out a high-level indication of some of those fields in the list below:
• Portfolio, subportfolio, loan and borrower unique identifiers.
• Loan information (remaining life, balance, prepayments).
• Property and collateral (current valuation, loan to value ratio
and type of valuation). Interest rate information (current reference rate, current rate/margin, reset interval).
• Performance information (performing/delinquent, number and value of payments in arrears, arrangement, litigation or
bankruptcy in process, default or foreclosure, date of default,
sale price, profit/loss on sale, total recoveries).
• Credit bureau score information (bankruptcy or IVA flags,
bureau scores and dates, other relevant indicators (eg in respect of fraudulent activity)).

The Bank is also considering making it an eligibility requirement that each issuer provides a summary of the key features of the transaction structure in a standardised format.
This summary would include:
• Clear diagrams of the deal structure.
Description of which classes of notes hold the voting rights and what proportion of noteholders are required to pass a resolution.
• Description of all the triggers in the transaction and the consequences of them being breached.
• What defines an event of default.
• Diagramatic cash-flow waterfalls, making clear the priority
of payments of principal and interest, including how these
can change in consequence to any trigger breaches.
52 The Bank is also considering making it an eligibility
requirement that cash-flow models be made available that
accurately reflect the legal structure of an asset-backed security.
The Bank believes that for each transaction a cash-flow model
verified by the issuer/arranger should be available publicly.
Currently, it can be unclear as to how a transaction would
behave in different scenarios, including events of default or
other trigger events. The availability of cash-flow models, that
accurately reflect the underlying legal structure of the
transaction, would enable accurate modelling and stress
testing of securities under various assumptions.

March 19, 2010, NY Times

Pools That Need Some Sun


LAST week, the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco sued a throng of Wall Street companies that sold the agency $5.4 billion in residential mortgage-backed securities during the height of the mortgage melee. The suit, filed March 15 in state court in California, seeks the return of the $5.4 billion as well as broader financial damages.

The case also provides interesting details on what the Federal Home Loan Bank said were misrepresentations made by those companies about the loans underlying the securities it bought.

It is not surprising, given the complexity of the instruments at the heart of this credit crisis, that it will require court battles for us to learn how so many of these loans could have gone so bad. The recent examiner’s report on the Lehman Brothers failure is a fine example of the in-depth investigation required to get to the bottom of this debacle.

The defendants in the Federal Home Loan Bank case were among the biggest sellers of mortgage-backed securities back in the day; among those named are Deutsche Bank; Bear Stearns; Countrywide Securities, a division of Countrywide Financial; Credit Suisse Securities; and Merrill Lynch. The securities at the heart of the lawsuit were sold from mid-2004 into 2008 — a period that certainly encompasses those giddy, anything-goes years in the home loan business.

None of the banks would comment on the litigation.

In the complaint, the Federal Home Loan Bank recites a list of what it calls untrue or misleading statements about the mortgages in 33 securitization trusts it bought. The alleged inaccuracies involve disclosures of the mortgages’ loan-to-value ratios (a measure of a loan’s size compared with the underlying property’s value), as well as the occupancy status of the properties securing the loans. Mortgages are considered less risky if they are written against primary residences; loans on second homes or investment properties are deemed to be more of a gamble.

Finally, the complaint said, the sellers of the securities made inaccurate claims about how closely the loan originators adhered to their underwriting guidelines. For example, the Federal Home Loan Bank asserts that the companies selling these securities failed to disclose that the originators made frequent exceptions to their own lending standards.

DAVID J. GRAIS, a partner at Grais & Ellsworth, represents the plaintiff. He said the Federal Home Loan Bank is not alleging that the firms intended to mislead investors. Rather, the case is trying to determine if the firms conformed to state laws requiring accurate disclosure to investors.

“Did they or did they not correspond with the real world at the time of the sale of these securities? That is the question,” Mr. Grais said.

Time will tell which side will prevail in this suit. But in the meantime, the accusations illustrate a significant unsolved problem with securitization: a lack of transparency regarding the loans that are bundled into mortgage securities. Until sunlight shines on these loan pools, the securitization market, a hugely important financing mechanism that augments bank lending, will remain frozen and unworkable.

It goes without saying that after swallowing billions in losses in such securities, investors no longer trust what sellers say is inside them. Investors need detailed information about these loans, and that data needs to be publicly available and updated regularly.

“The goose that lays the golden eggs for Wall Street is in the information gaps created by financial innovation,” said Richard Field, managing director at TYI, which develops transparency, trading and risk management information systems. “Naturally, Wall Street opposes closing these gaps.”

But the elimination of such information gaps is necessary, Mr. Field said, if investors are to return to the securitization market and if global regulators can be expected to prevent future crises.

While United States policy makers have done little to resolve this problem, the Bank of England, Britain’s central bank, is forging ahead on it. In a “consultative paper” this month, the central bank argued for significantly increased disclosure in asset-backed securities, including mortgage pools.

The central bank is interested in this debate because it accepts such securities in exchange for providing liquidity to the banking system.

“It is the bank’s view that more comprehensive and consistent information, in a format which is easier to use, is required to allow the effective risk management of securities,” the report stated. One recommendation is to include far more data than available now.

Among the data on its wish list: information on the remaining life, balance and prepayments on a loan; data on the current valuation and loan-to-value ratios on underlying property and collateral; and interest rate details, like the current rate and reset levels. In addition, the central bank said it wants to see loan performance information like the number and value of payments in arrears and details on bankruptcy, default or foreclosure actions.

The Bank of England recommended that investor reports be provided on “at least a monthly basis” and said it was considering making such reports an eligibility requirement for securities it accepts in its transactions.

The American Securitization Forum, the advocacy group for the securitization industry, has been working for two years on disclosure recommendations it sees as necessary to restart this market. But its ideas do not go as far as the Bank of England’s.

A group of United States mortgage investors is also agitating for increased disclosures. In a soon-to-be-published working paper, the Association of Mortgage Investors outlined ways to increase transparency in these instruments.

Among its suggestions: reduce the reliance on credit rating agencies by providing detailed data on loans well before a deal is brought to market, perhaps two weeks in advance. That would allow investors to analyze the loans thoroughly, then decide whether they want to buy in.

THE investors are also urging that loan-level data offered by issuers, underwriters or loan servicers be “accompanied by an auditor attestation” verifying it has been properly aggregated and calculated. In other words, trust but verify.

Confidence in the securitization market has been crushed by the credit mess. Only greater transparency will lure investors back into these securities pools. The sooner that happens, the better.

Lehman Execs and Auditors Face Civil and Criminal Inquiries and Lawsuits

This is pretty aggressive and pretty abusive. I don’t know how under GAAP this follows the rules whatsoever,” he said, referring to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles.“That reeks of an auditor who, rather than being really truly independent, is beholden to management,” he said, adding that the S.E.C. and the Justice Department should follow up on Mr. Valukas’s findings.

Executives at other Wall Street banks professed surprise at Lehman’s accounting maneuvers. Goldman Sachs, Barclays Capital and other banks said on Friday they did not use repos to hide liabilities on their balance sheets.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Surprised? Other than the people who thought they would not get caught, who is surprised by the fact that upon close scrutiny Lehman’s books were cooked and Ernst and Young “auditors” went along with it? Ask any “Joe” or “Jane” in the street if they are surprised.

So a few scapegoats are going to jail in the usual perp walk while most of the “masterminds” walk away with taxpayer money jingling in their pocket, with homeowners being bounced from their homes, with the economy in a death spin, and while their wallets bursting with cash, are replaced with more wallets in more places with more pockets.

Let’s put it very simply: If the experts are surprised they are not experts. Or, if they are experts, they are co-conspirators. To paraphrase Brad in the survey workshops they were either stupid or just plain lying.

But I didn’t post this because I am angry and outraged over the behavior of Wall Street, regulators, congress and the Obama administration. The reason I write this is to highlight the fact that persistence pays off. What was unthinkable, crazy, conspiratorial 3 years ago when i first started writing on this subject is now being accepted as axiomatically true.

If you persist in challenging the pretender lenders and demanding that the real creditor step forward, if you persist in getting a full accounting from the creditor (investor) down to the the debtor (borrower, homeowner), then you will magnify your chances of prevailing against a fraudulent foreclosure. Nearly all of the foreclosures during the past 3 years were fraudulent. Millions of people are thinking of their old homestead while they probably still own it, even though they left or were evicted.

Get your facts together, get that forensic analysis, get an expert to declare the truth, and get a lawyer who either understands securitized mortgage loans or is willing to learn. And don’t stop, don’t give and don’t leave until the last option of the last move has been played — because it is only THEN that the other side will cave in and offer you a reasonable settlement. And even then you still need to go to court with a quiet title action because the people offering you the deal are NOT your creditor and don’t know the name(s) of your creditor much less represent them.

March 12, 2010

Findings on Lehman Take Even Experts by Surprise


For the year that it took the court-appointed examiner to complete his report on the demise of Lehman Brothers, officials from Wall Street to Washington were anticipating it as the definitive account of the largest bankruptcy in American history.

And the report did just that when it was unveiled on Thursday, riveting readers with the exhaustive detail contained in its nine volumes and 2,200 pages. Yet almost immediately, it raised a host of new questions.

Now government regulators have what some lawyers call a road map for further inquiry into former Lehman executives like Richard S. Fuld Jr. and the auditing firm Ernst & Young.

Whether the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission will actually pursue their own legal actions is unclear. But legal experts said on Friday that the examiner, Anton R. Valukas, had provided plenty of material for civil regulatory action at the least with his findings of “materially misleading” accounting and “actionable balance sheet manipulation.”

“It’s certainly not helpful to any of them,” Michael J. Missal, a partner at the law firm K&L Gates and the examiner in the bankruptcy case of New Century Financial, said of some individuals accused of impropriety in the report. “It certainly assists private litigants and probably increases the pressure on the government to take some kind of action here.”

Representatives for the S.E.C. and the United States attorneys offices in Manhattan and Brooklyn declined to comment.

While Mr. Fuld and other former top Lehman officials are already defendants in a number of civil lawsuits, the new discoveries by Mr. Valukas have taken even veteran observers by surprise. Chief among these was the revelation of a particularly aggressive accounting practice, known internally as Repo 105, that Mr. Valukas said helped the investment bank mask the true depths of its financial woes.

Examiners in bankruptcy cases are appointed by the Justice Department to investigate accusations of wrongdoing or misconduct. Their job is to determine whether creditors can recover more money in these cases, and their findings often serve as guides for more lawsuits and even regulatory action.

What examiners are not asked to do is play judge and jury. Though the report contains strong language — Mr. Valukas deems Mr. Fuld “at least grossly negligent” in his role overseeing Lehman — it stops short of accusing anyone of criminal conduct or of violating securities law.

Patricia Hynes, a lawyer for Mr. Fuld, said on Thursday that her client “did not know what those transactions were — he didn’t structure or negotiate them, nor was he aware of their accounting treatment.” She did not return an e-mail seeking additional comment on Friday.

Mr. Valukas’s findings have stirred loud discussion among legal and accounting experts over the ways Lehman sought to improve its quarterly results months before it collapsed.

Over hundreds of pages, Mr. Valukas details the genesis of and the process behind Repo 105. Based on standard repurchase agreements — short-term loans commonly used by many firms for daily financing needs, in which borrowers temporarily exchange assets in return for cash up front — Lehman took a particularly aggressive accounting approach to these transactions.

Here, the investment bank used repos to temporarily park assets off its books to make its end-of-quarter debt levels look better than they did — while calling them sales instead of loans.

The accounting tactic, first used by Lehman in 2001, had one catch, according to Mr. Valukas: no American law firm would sign off on its use.

Enter Linklaters, a highly respected British law firm that gave Lehman the answer it wanted. So long as the repos were conducted in London through the bank’s European arm, and so long as the company took other cosmetic steps to make these transactions appear to be sales instead of financings, Linklaters determined that they would pass regulatory muster.

A spokeswoman for Linklaters said on Friday that the firm was not contacted by Mr. Valukas and that its legal opinions were not criticized in the examiner’s report as wrong or improper.

Lehman also had the backing of Ernst & Young, which certified the bank’s financial statements despite receiving warnings from a whistle-blower who said there were accounting improprieties. An Ernst & Young spokesman said on Thursday that the firm stood by its work for 2007, the last year it conducted an audit of Lehman’s financial results.

But Lynn E. Turner, a former chief accountant for the S.E.C., accused Ernst & Young of abdicating its responsibility to the audit committee of Lehman’s board by not presenting the concerns.

“This is pretty aggressive and pretty abusive. I don’t know how under GAAP this follows the rules whatsoever,” he said, referring to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles.

“That reeks of an auditor who, rather than being really truly independent, is beholden to management,” he said, adding that the S.E.C. and the Justice Department should follow up on Mr. Valukas’s findings.

Executives at other Wall Street banks professed surprise at Lehman’s accounting maneuvers. Goldman Sachs, Barclays Capital and other banks said on Friday they did not use repos to hide liabilities on their balance sheets.

Kansas S Ct Decision Annotation 2: Reversing Default

The point must be made, and the evidence must be allowed, that the pretender lenders are gaming the system every day and literally stealing homes from both homeowners and investors who thought they had an interest in those homes when they bought mortgage backed securities. This leaves the borrower in a position of financial double jeopardy wherein the true owner of the loan can still make a claim and the investor is simply out of luck — usually have been misinformed about the payments or status of the pool of assets the investor bought into.

From Landmark v Kesler — see entire decision: kansas-supreme-court-sets-precedent-key-decision-confirming-livinglies-strategies

“6. It is appropriate for a trial court to consider evidence beyond the bare pleadings to determine whether it should set aside a default judgment. In a motion to set aside default, a trial court should consider a variety of factors to determine whether the defendant or would-be defendant had a meritorious defense, and the burden of establishing a meritorious defense rests with the moving party.
7. Relief under K.S.A. 60-255(b) is appropriate only upon a showing that if relief is granted the outcome of the suit may be different than if the entry of default or the default judgment is allowed to stand; the showing should underscore the potential injustice of allowing the case to be disposed of by default. In most cases the court will require the party in default to demonstrate a meritorious defense to the action as a prerequisite to vacating the default entry or judgment. The nature and extent of the showing that will be necessary lie within the trial court’s discretion.”

A highly important finding in this decision and affecting those whose homes have already been subject to a foreclosure sale, judgment or eviction (unlawful detainer) proceeding. In most cases these proceedings have resulted in actions taken by the parties upon the default of the alleged borrower. The default occurs when the borrower fails to answer in a judicial state or fails to file a lawsuit in a non-judicial state. The first time the matter comes before a court is when the foreclosing party files something in court — like an eviction action or petition for writ of possession. The mistake that courts are making at the trial court level is that they are treating the matter as though it has been judicially concluded, as if there was a hearing or trial where the parties were heard on the merits. This is simply not the case.

Judges must come to the realization that this is not the end of the matter — it is the beginning. And they should consider any motion directed to the merits of the would-be forecloser’s claim and the defenses of the homeowner. And unlike a motion to dismiss, where there will be plenty of time to consider factual matters later, the motion to set aside the sale, foreclosure judgment, notice of default, notice of sale, or judgment of unlawful detainer or eviction is a final determination of the merits — most often without hearing one shred of evidence offered or proffered by the homeowner. In fact, there are numerous cases where the trial judge abruptly and even rudely silenced the lawyer or pro se litigant saying that this was a simple matter of eviction (or whatever the motion was pending) and this is not an evidentiary hearing. Other Judges see the inherent unfairness and the denial of due process when the homeowner raises objections that the pretender lender had no right to foreclose, did so improperly and essentially stole the title abusing state process and creating a fraud upon the court and everyone else. But the application of this approach has been inconsistent and uneven.

While we have seen numerous cases turned on their head where a homeowner has been restored to possession of the house, and even clear title awarded to the homeowner thus blocking any future foreclosure, we have seen many other cases where Judges are still viewing these cases as dead beat borrowers trying to game the system.

The point must be made, and the evidence must be allowed, that the pretender lenders are gaming the system every day and literally stealing homes from both homeowners and investors who thought they had an interest in those homes when they bought mortgage backed securities. This leaves the borrower in a position of financial double jeopardy wherein the true owner of the loan can still make a claim and the investor is simply out of luck — usually have been misinformed about the payments or status of the pool of assets the investor bought into.

“How do I prove that?” is the usual question. You don’t prove it you ask it. After performing a forensic review, hopefully by an independent expert, you present allegations and evidence that upon the best information you have, you believe the loan was securitized and that the owner of the loan is not the party who brought the action. You offer further your belief that the loan might have been paid or transferred by reason of federal bailout or insurance or credit default swaps, and that this pretender lender refuses to answer the questions put to them in the qualified written request and debt validation letter.

Since the QWR and DVL are statutory letters giving rise to an obligation to answer and resolve the issue, and the pretender lender is already in violation, the only answer the pretender lender could have to avoid sanction for failing to conform to statute is to say they are not a lender and therefore they don’t have any obligation to answer. This of course knocks them out of the position of would-be forecloser. If the pretender lender simply fails to comply, then your position is that no creditor can seek to collect on a debt without proving the debt is due. Since you have asked for a full accounting of the chain of title on the loan and the money received from all parties, not just the borrower, it is impossible to state how much of the obligation is due and to whom it is owed.

Thus the answer is that you allege the facts, you present probable cause (forensic review) for your allegations and then enter the discovery phase in which you press the pretender lender into eventually taking the position that they don’t need care, custody or control over the note or loan. They will take the position that they have the bare right to enforce the note and mortgage with or without the proper documentation. Most judges won’t buy that.

By the way, a simple and deadly question to ask the pretender lender in litigation is whether they have complete decision-making authority to modify the loan. You’ll be killing several birds with one stone when answer or refuse to answer that question — especially in California where there is an obligation on the part of the lender to have a modification program in place. The current programs in place are from servicers, not lenders.

Class Actions Being Investigated

People have been asking about class actions. With a little bit of help at I have come up with the following list. The one to watch is in Reno Nevada filed by Hager and Hearne. It covers Arizona, Nevada, and California. It has not been certified yet as a class action. I am involved as an expert witness in those cases (Lopez v Executive Trustee Services et al) and some other ones as well. Keep in mind these are investigations and that so far there is something like “probable cause” but not proof these were systemic actions or part of an established pattern of conduct.

  1. Countrywide pressured borrowers into unsuitable home loans.
  2. Countrywide materially increased loan costs at closing and switched the promised fixed rate into a variable rate loans.
  3. Americanize engaged in deceptive and predatory lending practices
  4. Bank of America reneged on promise it made to some home buyers by failing to comply with the bank’s “No Fee Modification Plan.”
  5. Countrywide schemed with appraisers to artificially inflate home prices. [Editor’s Note: This is a big one. By artificially increasing liquidity (i.e.., available money) into targeted geographical areas the scope of the fraud expands from individual homes to entire markets. By creating a “fraud upon the market” they create “plausible deniability” in the inflated appraisals because the comparable data is actually present to “support” the inflated appraisal. But the comparable data was inflated by artificially pumping money into a system and making it available under terms that appeared affordable. People forget that prices go up for one of TWO reasons — increased demand for housing (which never happened) due to increases in population etc. and increased liquidity (easy money). Either one will make prices appear to rise. As it turns out, increased liquidity has a geometrically higher impact on apparent asset values than consumer demand. See the Schiller (not Case Schiller) index which removes inflation from hosing prices and views the last 120 years of prices. Until 2001 they were always within range or explainable by various real external events. Then the prices rose as though propelled by a rocket in a manner and scope never seen before on any graph or analysis.]
  6. Countrywide severely damaged appraisers by blackballing them unless those appraisers issued Countrywide friendly appraisals. [Editor’s Note: Until securitization of mortgages a lender wanted to make absolutely sure that the property was worth what the buyer/borrower was paying for it. When securitization of loans kicked in the paradigm was turned on its head. Since the “lender” was a pretender lender and not using their own money and not booking the transaction as a loan receivable where they were assuming any risk, they now wanted to make sure the transaction was completed so the “lender” would receive its fee for standing in on a table-funded loan. The big change was that they had absolutely no motivation to verify the appraisal — quite the reverse. In order to meet their promise of providing “inventory” to Wall Street they needed to expand the apparent value of the homes because the unit count or number of transactions was trailing off, as Brad Keiser points out in our CLE workshops. So during this wild period they didn’t actually care what the property was worth, since all they needed was an “appraisal” that made the property APPEAR to be worth a certain amount of money, thus defrauding both borrowers and the investors who put up the money.]
  7. Countrywide rigged home appraisal process to inflate price Washington state homeowners paid for an appraisal. [Editor’s Note: examine the settlement documents carefully. You will usually find that the appraisal fee was either split or entire swallowed by a subsidiary or affiliate controlled by the pretender lender]
  8. Wells Fargo might be requiring home purchasers or those consumers refinancing a home to use Wells Fargo’s appraisal subsidiary Rels Valuation, then Wells Fargo requires the homeowner to pay an inflated fee for the appraisal.
  9. Richmond American Homes and Countrywide may have engaged in a scheme to artificially inflate the appraised value of homes build by Richmond American Homes.
  10. KB Homes, Countrywide and Landsafe might have conspired to rig home appraisals in KB developments causing homeowners to pay upwards of $20,000 over the true value of the homes. [Editor’s Note: My observation, non-statistical, is that this pattern of conduct was the prevailing way business was done. The developer would raise prices, and then appraisers would use the asking prices of the developers as their “comparables.” This made the appraisal always fit. It would be interesting to note how often the appraisal verified the contract before securitization and what the rate appraisals were accepted after securitization.]
  11. Countrywide improperly charging prepayment fee when homeowner sells house to third party.
  12. Countrywide charging excessive and illegal fees during foreclosure process.
  13. Large Banks and MERSCORP charge excessive fees during foreclosure process.
  14. New Century engaged in fraudulent origination practices in the home loan market.
  15. Novastar tricked homeowners into paying excessive fees and purchasing risky loan products. [Editor’s Note: The use of the term “purchase” applies to the borrower as well as the investor. In fact, based upon my analysis, the borrower’s transaction had mroe characteristics of a securities transaction and a securities issuance scheme than it did a loan].
  16. Chase Manhattan Mortgage part of scheme to fraudulently sell overpriced homes to consumers in Poconos Mountains
  17. Chase Home Finance illegally failed to properly apply prepayments by homeowners to the outstanding loan balance.
  18. Chase failed to promptly credit homeowners for prepayments on the consumers home loan.
  19. Large mortgage lenders discriminated against African-Americans by charging them higher fees and interest rates than similarly situated Caucasians.
  20. Amerifirst might have made unlawful pre-recorded calls to residential phone lines without their prior consent
  21. JPMorgan Chase Bank may an illegal closing fee at the closing of a residential real estate sale.
  22. JPMorgan may have been involved in a conspiracy to sell homes in Pocono Mountain area at inflated values
  23. Litton Loan servicing might not properly service adjustable rate home loans causing borrowers to pay more than owed.
  24. American Home Mortgage Servicing might improperly service adjustable rate home loans which may have the affect of causing borrowers to pay more than is owed.
  25. EMC Mortgage Corporation might overcharge customers when servicing adjustable rate mortgages.
  26. Countrywide improperly used deceptive disclosures when selling Option ARM loans to borrowers.
  27. EMC Mortgage Corp. might unlawfully service home loans.
  28. Homecomings Financial when servicing home loans may be unlawfully charging unneeded and excessive fees to customers.
  29. National City may fail to properly credit mortgage payments which generates unwarranted late fees
  30. Litton Loan Servicing may be improperly servicing home loans.

The Elephant in the Room – Well One of Many…

By Brad Keiser

For those of you who have been to our seminars, (coming to Southern California next month) You have heard me ask about Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke…”Are they stupid or were they lying when they said everything was OK through out all of 2007 and most of 2008?” You have seen and heard why Neil and I declare we are of the belief that there is simply “not enough money in the world to solve this problem.”

Fannie Mae’s (FNM) 8k has an interesting slide of their questionable assets in the supplement. It can be found below along with the complete 2009 Second Quarter filing. The report describes FNM’s exposure to problematic classes of mortgages on their book. That total comes to almost $1 Trillion. (that’s with a “T”) The total book of business is about $2.7 Trillion, at least 30% and more likely as high as 50% of their book is troubled. The report muddles with the actual holdings, as there are overlaps in the descriptions. The actual numbers they provide include:

  • Negative Amortization Loans: $15B
  • Interest Only: $196B
  • Low Fico: $357B
  •  LTV>90%: $265B
  • Low Fico AND > 90% LTV: $25B
  • Alt-A: $269B
  • Sub Prime: $8B

Those numbers add up to $1.13 trillion. They are troubled for multiple reasons. For example, $25 billion are loans that have BOTH  high LTV and a FICO score less than 620. While there are varying degrees of toxicity when it comes to “toxic” assets these would be considered highly toxic.

 What might all this mean? Some trends are emerging. Based on historical private sector experience with these types of troubled loans, particulary those 30 % of Alt A/No doc and Negative Am loans that are non-owner occupied properties, one could expect that 50% of these borrowers will go into default. On the defaulted loans the losses will be conservatively about 50% of the outstanding loan balances. In other words, losses of 25% on the troubled book are reasonable assumptions. That would imply a loss over time on these loans of $275-$300B. And that does not include losses on Prime loans. And that is JUST Fannie. The Obama Administration has an estimate of $250B over four years for the full cost of cleaning up the ALL the GSE Agencies. These numbers suggest it could be double that, triple that or more.


This is ONLY Fannie…not Freddie or Ginnie or Sallie, not Citi, not BoA, not Wells Fargo, not numerous community banks who owned preferred shares in Fannie or Freddie that had their capital severly eroded when those preferred shares were wiped out last fall. How about the dwindling balance of FDIC reserves? Ladies and Gents we have a veritable herd of these elephants lingering in the room.

Gee no wonder Mr. Lockhart decided now would be a good time to step down from running Fannie, Hank Paulson is getting a tan somewhere now that he has saved Goldman Sachs(for the moment)and something tells me Uncle Ben Bernanke would not be heartbroken if he was replaced by Summers or whomever this fall and could simply go back to pontificating at Princeton.

In the interest of full disclosure I hold no position in Fannie or any of the stocks mentioned….I am long 1200 shares of Smith & Wesson.

Fannie 8k August 2009

Double click chart below to enlarge

Fannie Mae 8k Sup August 09