reportedly will avoid an earnings restatement related to a troubled portfolio of asset-backed bonds under an agreement reached with the
Securities and Exchange Commission
Under the pact, the agency is prepared to sign off on Fannie's accounting to date, saying the mortgage financier used generally accepted accounting principles in valuing the portfolios to date,
The Wall Street Journal
reported. But the company will have to use a stricter standard in the future, a requirement that could force big writedowns in future periods.
The deal is a compromise after a finding last week by the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight that the accounting Fannie uses to value some of its bonds is wrong. The OFHEO ruling focused on bonds backed by mobile home and aircraft leases.
OFHEO Director Armando Falcon said Fannie's bookkeeping "does not reflect the earnings volatility associated with these assets" and that Fannie needed to revise its treatment in order to provide investors with "high-quality earnings information."
Fannie was created by Congress to buy mortgage loans from banks so banks would have new money to lend home buyers. It and its smaller sister company,
, have drawn fire in recent months from critics who believe the massive portfolio of bonds they carry pose a risk to their own financial stability and to the larger economy.
The issues raised by OFHEO relate to a relatively small percentage of Fannie's overall holdings, about $8.3 billion in bonds, but bother critics who believe they're symptomatic of structural problems infecting the company's Byzantine accounting. Fannie has repeatedly rejected those criticisms and said its financial structure was set up with safety in mind.