November 16, 2012

J.P. Morgan, Credit Suisse to Pay Combined $400 Million Settlement for RMBS Violations

SEC says those harmed will share in the proceeds

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  • Risk-Based Oversight of Investment Advisors Even if the SEC had a larger budget and more resources, it is doubtful that the Commission would have the resources to regularly examine all RIAs. Therefore, the SEC is likely to continue relying on risk-based oversight to fulfill its mission of protecting investors.
  • Conducting Due Diligence of Sub-Advisors and Third-Party Advisors Engaging in due-diligence of sub-advisors isn’t just a recommended best practice— it is part of the fiduciary obligation to a client. An RIA should be extremely reluctant to enter a relationship with a sub-advisor who claims the firm’s strategy is proprietary.

J.P. Morgan Securities and Credit Suisse Securities (USA) on Friday agreed to pay more than $400 million combined to settle charges that they mislead investors in offerings of residential mortgage-backed securities.

The Securities and Exchange Commission, in coordination with the federal-state Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities Working Group had announced the charges on Friday. The SEC said it plans to distribute the money to harmed investors. Both firms agreed to settle without admitting or denying the charges.

The SEC alleges that J.P. Morgan misstated information about the delinquency status of mortgage loans that provided collateral for an RMBS offering in which it was the underwriter. J.P. Morgan received fees of more than $2.7 million, and investors sustained losses of at least $37 million on undisclosed delinquent loans. The SEC says that "J.P. Morgan also is charged for Bear Stearns’ failure to disclose its practice of obtaining and keeping cash settlements from mortgage loan originators on problem loans that Bear Stearns had sold into RMBS trusts. The proceeds from this bulk settlement practice were at least $137.8 million."

J.P. Morgan has agreed to pay $296.9 million to settle the SEC’s charges.

According to the SEC’s order against Credit Suisse, the firm similarly failed to accurately disclose its practice of retaining cash for itself from the settlement of claims against mortgage loan originators for problems with loans that Credit Suisse had sold into RMBS trusts and no longer owned. Credit Suisse “also made misstatements in SEC filings about when it would repurchase mortgage loans from trusts if borrowers missed the first payment due. The firm made $55.7 million in profits and losses avoided from its bulk settlement practice, and its investors lost more than $10 million due to Credit Suisse’s practices concerning first payment defaults.”

Credit Suisse has agreed to pay $120 million to settle the SEC’s charges.

“In many ways, mortgage products such as RMBS were ground zero in the financial crisis,” said Robert Khuzami, director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement, and co-chair of the RMBS Working Group, said in a statement. “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. Today’s actions involving RMBS securities are a continuation of the SEC’s strong efforts to pursue wrongdoing committed in connection with the financial crisis.”

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