Those charged include the agencies' two former CEOs, Fannie's Daniel Mudd and Freddie's Richard Syron. They led the companies when the housing bubble burst in late 2006 and 2007. The four other top executives also worked for the companies during that time.The SEC has entered into agreements with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac over the scope of the suits and what may be accomplished. It's severing liability from the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) and seeking to place liability on the individuals in key decision-making positions:
The case was filed in federal court in New York City.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac each entered into a Non-Prosecution Agreement with the Commission in which each company agreed to accept responsibility for its conduct and not dispute, contest, or contradict the contents of an agreed-upon Statement of Facts without admitting nor denying liability. Each also agreed to cooperate with the Commission's litigation against the former executives. In entering into these Agreements, the Commission considered the unique circumstances presented by the companies' current status, including the financial support provided to the companies by the U.S. Treasury, the role of the Federal Housing Finance Agency as conservator of each company, and the costs that may be imposed on U.S. taxpayers.The key fact that will be at issue is how these officials misled the public by claiming that their respective companies' exposure to the subprime mortgage mess was far smaller than it actually was.
Three former Fannie Mae executives - former Chief Executive Officer Daniel H. Mudd, former Chief Risk Officer Enrico Dallavecchia, and former Executive Vice President of Fannie Mae's Single Family Mortgage business, Thomas A. Lund - were named in the SEC's complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
The SEC also charged three former Freddie Mac executives — former Chairman of the Board and CEO Richard F. Syron, former Executive Vice President and Chief Business Officer Patricia L. Cook, and former Executive Vice President for the Single Family Guarantee business Donald J. Bisenius — in a separate complaint filed in the same court.
"Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac executives told the world that their subprime exposure was substantially smaller than it really was," said Robert Khuzami, Director of the SEC's Enforcement Division. "These material misstatements occurred during a time of acute investor interest in financial institutions' exposure to subprime loans, and misled the market about the amount of risk on the company's books. All individuals, regardless of their rank or position, will be held accountable for perpetuating half-truths or misrepresentations about matters materially important to the interest of our country's investors."
The SEC is seeking financial penalties, disgorgement of ill-gotten gains with interest, permanent injunctive relief and officer and director bars against Mudd, Dallavecchia, Lund, Syron, Cook, and Bisenius. Both lawsuits allege that the former executives caused the federal mortgage firms to materially misstate their holdings of subprime mortgage loans in periodic and other filings with the Commission, public statements, investor calls, and media interviews. The suit involving the Fannie Mae executives also includes similar allegations regarding Alt-A mortgage loans. The suit against the former Fannie Mae executives alleges they made misleading statements — or aided and abetted others — between December 2006 and August 2008. The former Freddie Mac executives are alleged to have made misleading statements — or aided and abetted others - between March 2007 and August 2008.
It was the implosion of the subprime mortgage market that sent a shaky economy into a recession of unprecedented levels.