I’m surprised this hasn’t already happened. When you buy securities you expect that they be “secure.” These are not supposed to be the equivalent of penny stocks. Countrywide packaged securities that it knew were risky and packaged securities that it knew had serious ownership issues.
This is hard legal question. What is the first warranty guarantee that a seller gives automatically (implied)? Answer, that they own the product they are selling. That is the first thing you are supposed to do. And Countrywide sold a product that it knew it didn’t have a clear title to.
Is this going to be hard lawsuit to win? If it can be proved that Countrywide knew that its title to these properties was not secure, Bank of America which now owns Countrywide is going to be pay out more. I have heard estimates of up to 40 billion dollars in possible paybacks over these bad securities.
From CBS Money Watch –
A lawsuit alleges Countrywide Financial Corp. and two of its former executives misled institutional investors who were stuck with huge losses from mortgage-related investments that they say were portrayed as low-risk.
The lawsuit was filed Monday in New York State Supreme Court by investors who bought hundreds of millions of dollars in Countrywide’s mortgage-backed securities from 2005 to 2007, before the housing market went bust. The list of a dozen plaintiffs includes New York Life Insurance Co., TIAA-CREF Life Insurance Co. and Dexia Holdings Inc.
The complaint names Countrywide, various subsidiaries that issued the securities, two former company executives including ex-CEO Anthony Mozilo, and Bank of America, which bought Countrywide in 2008.
The big guns are out on this one. Read a little more –
The plaintiffs allege they wanted conservative investments that Countrywide portrayed as being backed by low-risk mortgages written according to strict underwriting criteria.
Materials that Countrywide subsidiaries circulated to potential investors indicated all the mortgage-backed securities had been assigned investment-grade ratings, and most had top-rung “AAA” ratings, according to the lawsuit.
But as of last month, more than 31 percent of the mortgage loans underlying those securities were over 30 days delinquent, in foreclosure, bankruptcy or repossession, the lawsuit says. The securities “are no longer marketable at or near the prices the plaintiffs paid for them,” leaving them with “significant losses,” the complaint says.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for alleged securities fraud.
These investments were marketed as conservative (solidly secure), given a triple AAA rating (higher than any paper you ever wrote could get) and are now sinking in value daily.
The American mortgage crisis just keeps rockin’ on.