Washington, D.C., Dec. 16, 2011 “” The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged six former top executives of the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac) with securities fraud, alleging they knew and approved of misleading statements claiming the companies had minimal holdings of higher-risk mortgage loans, including subprime loans.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac each entered into a Non-Prosecution Agreement with the Commission in which each company agreed to accept responsibility for its conduct and not dispute, contest, or contradict the contents of an agreed-upon Statement of Facts without admitting nor denying liability. Each also agreed to cooperate with the Commission’s litigation against the former executives. In entering into these Agreements, the Commission considered the unique circumstances presented by the companies’ current status, including the financial support provided to the companies by the U.S. Treasury, the role of the Federal Housing Finance Agency as conservator of each company, and the costs that may be imposed on U.S. taxpayers.
Three former Fannie Mae executives “” former Chief Executive Officer Daniel H. Mudd, former Chief Risk Officer Enrico Dallavecchia, and former Executive Vice President of Fannie Mae’s Single Family Mortgage business, Thomas A. Lund “” were named in the SEC’s complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
The SEC also charged three former Freddie Mac executives “” former Chairman of the Board and CEO Richard F. Syron, former Executive Vice President and Chief Business Officer Patricia L. Cook, and former Executive Vice President for the Single Family Guarantee business Donald J. Bisenius “” in a separate complaint filed in the same court.
“Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac executives told the world that their subprime exposure was substantially smaller than it really was,” said Robert Khuzami, Director of the SEC’s Enforcement Division. “These material misstatements occurred during a time of acute investor interest in financial institutions’ exposure to subprime loans, and misled the market about the amount of risk on the company’s books. All individuals, regardless of their rank or position, will be held accountable for perpetuating half-truths or misrepresentations about matters materially important to the interest of our country’s investors.”
The SEC is seeking financial penalties, disgorgement of ill-gotten gains with interest, permanent injunctive relief and officer and director bars against Mudd, Dallavecchia, Lund, Syron, Cook, and Bisenius. Both lawsuits allege that the former executives caused the federal mortgage firms to materially misstate their holdings of subprime mortgage loans in periodic and other filings with the Commission, public statements, investor calls, and media interviews. The suit involving the Fannie Mae executives also includes similar allegations regarding Alt-A mortgage loans. The suit against the former Fannie Mae executives alleges they made misleading statements “” or aided and abetted others “” between December 2006 and August 2008. The former Freddie Mac executives are alleged to have made misleading statements “” or aided and abetted others – between March 2007 and August 2008.
The SEC’s complaint against the former Fannie Mae executives alleges that, when Fannie Mae began reporting its exposure to subprime loans in 2007, it broadly described the loans as those “made to borrowers with weaker credit histories,” and then reported “” with the knowledge, support, and approval of Mudd, Dallavecchia, and Lund “” less than one-tenth of its loans that met that description. Fannie Mae reported that its 2006 year-end Single Family exposure to subprime loans was just 0.2 percent, or approximately $4.8 billion, of its Single Family loan portfolio. Investors were not told that in calculating the Company’s reported exposure to subprime loans, Fannie Mae did not include loan products specifically targeted by Fannie Mae towards borrowers with weaker credit histories, including more than $43 billion of Expanded Approval, or “EA” loans.
This action arises out of a series of materially false and misleading public disclosures by the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (“Freddie Mac” or the “Company”) and certain of its senior executives relating to the exposure of Freddie Mac’s largest business segment -Single Family Guarantee -to subprime mortgage loans.
Between March 23,2007, and August 6,2008 (the “Relevant Period”), a period of heightened investor interest in the credit risks associated with subprime loans, Freddie Mac and defendants Richard F. Syron (“Syron”), Patricia L. Cook (“Cook”), and Donald · J. Bisenius (“Bisenius”) misled investors into believing that the Company had far less exposure to these riskier mortgages than in fact existed. To that end, at various times, each made or substantially assisted Freddie Mac and each other in making materially false · and misleading statements that claimed in substance that Freddie Mac had little or no exposure to subprime loans in its Single Family Guarantee business.