January 5, 2015
Morgan Stanley wants to resolve an investigation into the bank’s creation and sale of mortgage-backed bonds, and is in talks with the U.S. for the same. Those who are familiar with the matter said that this is the latest in a series of Wall Street cases that that are tied to the 2008 financial crisis.
Under the condition of anonymity, as the negotiations are private, the person close to the situation said that it is possible that Morgan Stanley would reach an agreement within the first few months of 2015.
If reached, a settlement would add Morgan Stanley to a list, that’s still growing, of banks that face federal sanctions over the mortgage practices that led up to the collapse in housing prices. In august 2014, Bank of America Corp. agreed to pay $16.7 billion for misrepresenting the quality of bonds backed by home loans. The numbers are $7 billion and $13 billion for Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase & Co. respectively.
For years, Morgan Stanley has said that it faces inquiries by government into its handling of home loans and related investment products. In a regulatory filing in November, Morgan Stanley said that some cases had reached advanced stages. The focus of the investigations is in part on the firm’s due diligence on loans it bought and disclosures to investors.
The case by Justice Department follows other regulatory actions against Morgan Stanley over similar allegations. In February, Morgan Stanley agreed to pay $1.25 billion after the accusation by Federal Housing Finance Agency that Morgan Stanley sold faulty mortgage backed securities to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Another settlement of $275 million was reached between SEC and Morgan Stanley over claims it understated the number of delinquent loans backing subprime mortgage securities.
In the November disclosure, Morgan Stanley said that the Illinois Attorney General’s office claimed that Morgan Stanley misled the pension firms, demanding $88 million. Morgan Stanley in the filing said that it disagrees with the office’s claims.
Spokespersons for Morgan Stanley have declined to comment on the situation.
New York Times reported earlier about the negotiations of Morgan Stanley with the Justice Department. The department has been examining the relationship between Morgan Stanley and New Century Financial Corp., which according to the newspaper is a subprime lender that collapsed in the housing bust. Morgan Stanley considered buying New Century before its bankruptcy as it searched for mortgages that could be packaged into securities.