The U.S. has opened a criminal investigation into whether traders manipulated prices in the $550 billion market for unsecured bonds issued by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, according to people familiar with the matter.
The probe, parts of which were described by four people familiar with it, shows that investigations by the Obama Justice Department into market manipulation by bank traders are continuing under President Donald Trump. The Obama administration secured billions of dollars in settlements and criminal charges tied to the rigging of currency markets and benchmark interest rates.
The latest inquiry is in its early stages and focuses on whether traders at banks coordinated with one another in order to benefit the institutions they work for, said two of the people, who asked not to be named because the investigation is confidential. Investigators are looking at potential fraud and antitrust violations, four people said. The identity of the banks under scrutiny couldn’t be determined.
The Justice Department didn’t respond to a request seeking comment. Spokesmen for Fannie and Freddie didn’t provide an immediate comment.
Fannie and Freddie are known for pooling home mortgages into securities, part of a government-backed effort to finance Americans’ home purchases. Those securities aren’t what has attracted investigators’ attention, however: Authorities are looking at secondary trading in unsecured bonds issued by Fannie and Freddie themselves, two of the people said.