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Two banks to pay $417 million to SEC

  • Article by: DAWN KOPECKI, TOM SCHOENBERG and DONAL GRIFFIN
  • Bloomberg News
  • November 16, 2012 - 8:58 PM

NEW YORK - JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Credit Suisse Group AG agreed to pay almost $417 million to settle U.S. regulatory claims that they misled investors while selling billions of dollars of investments linked to home loans.

JPMorgan resolved claims that it made misstatements about delinquency data for loans packaged into securities and that Bear Stearns Cos., which the bank acquired in 2008, didn't tell mortgage investors it kept reimbursements on soured loans, the Securities and Exchange Commission said in a statement. Credit Suisse was also faulted for disclosures on reimbursements.

For JPMorgan Chief Executive Jamie Dimon, whose firm is forfeiting $296.9 million in the SEC deal, the claims add to a growing list of regulatory costs from the housing bubble, a botched bet on credit derivatives and an energy-trading probe. Since mid-2011, the bank also has been sued by state and federal watchdogs over sales of mortgage-backed securities to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and loans sold to investors by Bear Stearns.

"Misrepresentations in connection with the creation and sale of mortgage securities contributed greatly to the tremendous losses suffered by investors once the U.S. housing market collapsed," the SEC's enforcement chief, Robert Khuzami, said.

One of the SEC's claims against New York-based JPMorgan focuses on a $1.8 billion offering of residential mortgage-backed securities, known as RMBS, as the credit crisis loomed in December 2006. The bank told investors only four loans were delinquent by 30 to 59 days, when in reality, the firm had information showing more than 620 loans fit that description, the SEC said.

Another claim focuses on 156 mortgage-backed securities transactions by Bear Stearns from 2005 to 2007. Lenders were supposed to buy back home loans that defaulted early or were defective. Bear Stearns instead negotiated bulk settlements with the loan originators and then kept payments for itself without telling investors, the SEC said.

JPMorgan and Credit Suisse didn't admit or deny wrongdoing in settling. The firms agreed to forfeit gains from the misconduct and pay fines. Khuzami said he doesn't expect to bring claims against individuals in either case. That might change if the investigators uncover new evidence, he said.

Credit Suisse, led by CEO Brady Dougan, agreed to pay $120 million. It too had engaged in bulk settlements with loan originators from 2005 to 2010, kept proceeds and failed to tell investors, according to the SEC. The agency also faulted the bank, Switzerland's second-largest, for failing to make good on obligations to repurchase certain loans that defaulted.

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