Ohio attorney general sues Freddie Mac over alleged mortgage fraud
Posted: Tuesday, January 22, 2008 at 9:03 p.m.
(Columbus, OH)--Alleging that the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, more commonly known as Freddie Mac, secretly and intentionally participated in one of the largest housing investment deceptions in modern U.S. economic times,” Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann last Friday filed a securities fraud class action lawsuit in federal court in Youngstown, Ohio. The action was filed on behalf of the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS) to benefit the fund and all other shareholders similarly harmed by the company’s investment in securities backed by sub-prime mortgage loans. OPERS losses as a result of the alleged fraud could be as high as $27.2 million.
This lawsuit is evidence of the Attorney General’s commitment on behalf of Ohio’s pension funds to recover billions of dollars lost as a result of the collapse of the sub-prime mortgage industry. OPERS was the Lead Plaintiff in an earlier case against Freddie Mac and won a $410 million settlement in that case.
“I would like to commend the trustees and staff at OPERS for supporting my effort to hold Freddie Mac accountable for the role the company and its top executives played in bilking investors and fueling the foreclosure crisis that is destroying neighborhoods across our state and the entire nation,” Mr. Dann said. “By authorizing me to bring this suit on their behalf they are protecting the interests of the pension plan, the workers and retirees who depend upon it, and the taxpayers whose hard-earned dollars fund it. And they are also sending a loud and clear message to Wall Street that this type of fraud and manipulation will not be tolerated by the people who live on the Main Streets that are being devastated by what Freddie Mac has done.”
The lawsuit alleges that despite repeated public denials and assurances to the contrary, Freddie Mac was deeply invested in the sub-prime mortgage industry and failed to disclose that it was not protecting itself from the billion-dollar risks it incurred. In addition to Freddie Mac and its officers, the lawsuit seeks to hold Freddie Mac committee directors personally responsible for their recklessness and secrecy about Freddie Mac’s investments and resulting losses in the sub-prime housing mortgage industry.
The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court, Northern District of Ohio (Youngstown Division), on behalf of OPERS and all other purchasers of Freddie Mac common stock from August 1, 2006 through November 23, 2007. OPERS has asked the court to appoint it the Lead Plaintiff for all of the class members who have been harmed.
The complaint alleges that Freddie Mac and its top executives—Richard F. Syron, Patricia L. Cook, Anthony S. Piszel, Eugene M. McQuade—and the directors who served on Freddie Mac’s Audit, Finance and Risk Oversight Committees --artificially inflated the company’s publicly traded common stock through false public financial statements and other public statements, including denials of Freddie Mac’s billion dollars of exposure to the sub-prime mortgage industry.
In violation of the Securities Exchange Act and Securities and Exchange Commission rules, the complaint alleges that Freddie Mac and its officers and directors intentionally hid the essential facts that:
Freddie Mac had invested billions of dollars in sub-prime based securities;
Freddie Mac had failed to establish adequate internal controls, checks and balances to identify the types and amounts of risks it had taken on;
Freddie Mac had failed to disclose its inability to determine the amount of its loan guarantee exposure, the inadequacy of its loan loss reserves, and the failure of its insurers and counterparties to meet their obligations to Freddie Mac.In addition to initiating the Ohio case, the Attorney General has filed OPERS’ request to become the lead plaintiff in a similar case recently filed in federal court in New York.