Big Banks Are Accused of Rigging Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae Bonds
The City of Birmingham Retirement and Relief System and the Electrical Workers Pension System Local 103 have filed a proposed class action securities fraud lawsuit accusing a number of big banks of colluding with one another to rig the prices of Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. (Freddie Mac) and Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) unsecured bonds. The defendants in the case include JP Morgan (JPM), Bank of America (BAC), Citigroup (C), Barclays Bank (BARC), Deutsche Bank (DB), Credit Suisse (CS), UBS (UBS), Merrill Lynch, BNP Paribas Securities Corp., FTN Financial Securities, Goldman Sachs (GS), and First Tennessee Bank.
According to Law360, the plaintiffs contend that the bank took advantage of the dark market nature of the “private, ‘over the counter’ (OTC) market” where these bonds are bought and sold to get investors to buy the Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae bonds at prices that were “artificially high.”
Fannie and Freddie are both government-backed mortgage-finance companies. They are typically known for converting mortgages into mortgage-backed securities. This investor fraud lawsuit, however, is focused on their unsecured bonds. The proposed class contends that investors purchased the bonds because they thought they were safe, liquid, low risk, and likely to make returns. Their complaint states that the plaintiffs and other investors had not expected the “overcharges and underpayments” that resulted because of the banks’ alleged collusion.