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U.S. Sues 17 Banks Over Mortgage Losses

Updated with information of federal suit against Bank of America

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The Federal Housing Finance Agency announced Friday afternoon that it had sued 17 large banks, alleging violations of federal securities laws in the sale of mortgage-backed securities to government-sponsored enterprises, including Fannie Mae (FNMA), Freddie Mac (FMCC).

The grand total of the securities sold to the government-sponsored enterprises, for which the Federal Housing Finance Agency is seeking full buybacks from the banks, is $196.2 billion.

The FHFA demanded full recovery of damages sustained from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's purchase of over $6 billion in mortgage-backed securities known as "GSE Certificates," that were sold by Bank of America (BAC) between Sept. 30, 2005, and Nov. 5, 2007.

The damages were to be determined at trial, but with "recission and recovery of the consideration paid for the GSE Certificates, with interest thereon." That means that if Bank of America were to lose the case, the company would be repaying the government-sponsored enterprises in full to repurchase the GSE certificates.

More importantly, the FHFA is seeking full rescission and recovery from $26.6 billion in mortgage-backed securities sold to the GSEs by Countrywide, before the mortgage lender was acquired by Bank of America in 2008, and $24.9 billion sold to Fannie and Freddie by Merrill Lynch and its subsidiaries, before Merrill was acquired by Bank of America in 2009.

The agency provided details on its claims against 14 other entities it sued, demanding full rescission and recovery from:

  • Ally Financial, for $6 billion in securities sales to Fannie and Freddie.
  • Barclays (BCS), for $4.9 billion in securities sales to the GSEs.
  • Citigroup (C), for $3.5 billion in securities sales.
  • Credit Suisse (CS), for $14.1 billion in securities sales.
  • Deutsche Bank (DB), for $14.2 billion in securities sales.
  • First Horizon National (FHN), for $883 million in securities sales.
  • General Electric (GE), for $549 million in securities sales.
  • Goldman Sachs (GS), for $11.1 billion in securities sales.
  • HSBC (HBC), for $6.2 billion in securities sales.
  • JPMorgan Chase (JPM) for $33 billion in mortgage-backed securities sales by the company, Washington Mutual (which it acquired after the giant thrift failed in September 2008), and other subsidiaries, to Fannie and Freddie.
  • Morgan Stanley (MS), for $10.6 billion in securities sales.
  • Nomura Holdings (NMR), for $2 billion in securities sales.
  • Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), for $30.4 billion in GSE Securities sales to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
  • Société Générale, for $1.3 billion in securities sales.

Such huge amounts of securities buybacks being demanded by the FHFA, throw a monkey wrench into any plan President Obama may wish to present, to facilitate a settlement of mortgage foreclosure, servicing and putback claims, between the major mortgage lenders and servicers, the 50 state attorneys general, and the federal regulators.

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-- Written by Philip van Doorn in Jupiter, Fla.

To contact the writer, click here: Philip van Doorn.

To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/PhilipvanDoorn.

Philip W. van Doorn is a member of TheStreet's banking and finance team, commenting on industry and regulatory trends. He previously served as the senior analyst for TheStreet.com Ratings, responsible for assigning financial strength ratings to banks and savings and loan institutions. Mr. van Doorn previously served as a loan operations officer at Riverside National Bank in Fort Pierce, Fla., and as a credit analyst at the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York, where he monitored banks in New York, New Jersey and Puerto Rico. Mr. van Doorn has additional experience in the mutual fund and computer software industries. He holds a bachelor of science in business administration from Long Island University.

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