Mortgage group concerned about payment structures for fines
Group says large banks have the option to leverage loans they don’t own in order to settle violations
BY CHRIS DIMARCO
October 8, 2013 • Reprints
While the Department of Justice (DOJ) and J.P. Morgan and Chase Co. have still yet to reach a settlement to resolve a number of pending probes, investors are concerned that they could be unfairly required to shoulder the burden the banks pay out.
A group of mortgage bond investors has penned a letter to the DOJ, asking it to prevent any bank from using mortgage-backed security adjustments to pay fines. They did not directly imply that the settlement they were talking about stemmed from the ongoing discussions between JP and the DOJ, but raised concerns surrounding settlements with any major bank.
The group, the Association of Mortgage Investors (AMI), represents about 25 individuals and controls about $56 billion in assets under its organization. In the letter, which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, the group’s executive director Chris Katopis says, “Parties sued by the government or third-parties should not be able to settle with assets that they do not own, namely other people’s money.”
As of last week, J.P. Morgan and the DOJ had yet to come to agreement terms that would end a series of investigations pending for the bank. Settlement figures as high as $11 billion have been kicked around, according to individuals close to the case, although no official word has been made. According to speculation, $7 billion of that total would be paid out in fines, with an additional $4 billion going towards relief for struggling homeowners.
The Association of Mortgage Investors is said to be posturing proactively because of previous mortgage settlements made this year. In these settlements, banks could receive partial settlement credit if they reduced loan-balances. However, many of the mortgages they reduced balances on were managed by investors, and therefore not technically owned by the banks.
There has been little news out of the J.P. Morgan talks outside of speculation, and it is not known if the Department of Justice is considering the type of payment structure the AMI is fearful of in their talks.