Articles Posted in Countrywide Financial

Class action securities plaintiffs, led by the Iowa Public Employees’ Retirement System, have settled their mortgage-backed securities lawsuit against Countrywide for $500 million. This is the largest federal class action MBS securities case in the US that has been resolved to date, even exceeding the $315 million settlement reached with Bank of America’s (BAC) Merrill Lynch (MER) last year.

Per the investors, Countryside, which was acquired by BofA, sold them billions of dollars in MBS certificates that were backed by defective loans. Toward the end of 2008, nearly all of the certificates were relegated to junk bond status.

The plaintiffs allege that offering documents for the mortgage-backed bonds failed to disclose that Countrywide was ignoring its own guidelines regarding home loan originating. In their consolidated class action securities case, investors sought over $351 billion of the Countrywide MBS that had been downgraded after the subprime collapse in 2007. (A district judge would go on to narrow the mortgage-backed securities lawsuit to $2.6 billion in bonds and Bank of America was dismissed as a defendant.)

In the State Supreme Court of New York, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. has fled an objection to Bank of America proposed $8.5 billion mortgage-backed securities settlement. The FDIC, which is the receiver for failed banks and owns the securities that the settlement is supposed to cover, says it doesn’t have sufficient information to assess the settlement.

Per the agreement, Bank of America would pay to resolve claims brought by investors of mortgage bonds from Countrywide Financial Corp., which the investment bank acquired in 2008 for $4 billion. Already, the claims related to the Countrywide MBS has cost Bank of America over $30 billion.

The $8.5 billion securities settlement with Bank of America is over $424 billion in mortgages from Countrywide and was reached with 22 institutional investors, including:

Allstate has filed a securities fraud lawsuit against Bank of America (NYSE: BAC) and its subsidiary Countrywide Financial. The insurer claims that it purchased over $700 million in toxic mortgage-backed securities that quickly lost their value. Also targeted in the securities complaint are former Countrywide CEO Anthony Mozilo and other executives. Allstate is alleging negligent misrepresentation and securities violations.

The insurance company purchased its securities between March 2005 and June 2007. According to the federal lawsuit, as far back as 2003 Countrywide let go of its underwriting standards, concealed material facts from Allstate and other investors, and misrepresented key information about the underlying mortgage loans. The insurer contends that Countrywide was trying to boost its market share and sold fixed income securities backed by loans that were given to borrowers who were at risk of defaulting on payments. Because key information about the underlying loans was not made available, Allstate says the securities ended up appearing safer than they actually were. Allstate says that in 2008, it suffered $1.69 billion in losses due largely in part to investment losses.

It was just this October that bondholders BlackRock and Pimco and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York started pressing Band of America to buy back mortgages that its Countrywide unit had packaged into $47 billion of bonds. The bondholder group accused BofA, which acquired Countrywide in 2008, of failing to properly service the loans.

Meantime, BofA says it is looking at Allstate’s lawsuit, which it says for now appears to be a case of a “sophisticated investor” looking to blame someone for its investment losses and a poor economy.

Related Web Resources:
Countrywide Comes Between Allstate And BofA, Forbes, December 29, 2010
Allstate sues Bank of America over bad mortgage loans, Business Times, December 28, 2010 Continue reading

Appearing before the U.S. Congress last week, Countrywide Financial CEO and founder Angelo Mozilo, Ex-Citigroup CEO Charles Prince, and Ex-Merrill Lynch Chairman and CEO Stanley O’Neil gave their testimonies to the House Committee on Government and Oversight Reform.

The three men say that reports about their compensation are “grossly exaggerated” and that they too have lost millions of dollars from the mortgage debacle. On Thursday, the Congressional issued a report stating that the three men earned $460 million between 2002 and 2006.

All three men say their income from the firms are tied to the profits that the companies made in the years prior to the mortgage crisis and that their company stock has dropped dramatically since then.

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