New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D) has filed a civil lawsuit against JP Morgan Chase alleging “widespread fraud in the sale of mortgage-backed securities,” the Wall Street Journal reports. The suit is the first action brought by the Obama administration’s mortgage fraud task force, which Schneiderman chairs.
The residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) in question were actually tied to Bear Stearns, the failed financial institution that JP Morgan acquired before the 2008 financial crisis.
According to the suit, filed in New York state court, the bank was “aware that many of their loan originators were selling defective loans but continued to buy and securitize those loans,” and, similarly to the “shitty deals” peddled by Goldman Sachs bankers, had openly touted the bad packages they were selling:
Other internal communications reflect Defendants’ awareness of the bad quality of loans that were being included in other securitizations. In connection with the Bear Stearns Second Lien Trust 2007–1 (“BSSLT 2007- 1”) securitization, for example, one Bear Stearns executive asked whether the securitization was a “going out of business sale” and expressed a desire to “close this dog.” In another internal email, the SACO 2006–8 securitization was referred to as a “SACK OF SHIT” and a “shit breather.”
Still, the bankers led investors to believe they “had carefully evaluated — and would continue to monitor — the quality of the loans in their RMBS. In fact, Defendants systematically failed to fully evaluate the loans, largely ignored the defects that their limited review did uncover, and kept investors in the dark about both the inadequacy of their review procedures and the defects in the underlying loans.”
By 2006, Bear Stearns’ RMBS business was the largest and most profitable on Wall Street, with its 345,000 securitized loans worth $69 billion. Between 2003 and 2006, it securitized $212 billion in loans, according to the suit.
“We intend to follow up with similar actions against other sponsors and underwriters of RMBS,” an official in Schneiderman’s office told the WSJ.