Bank of America Settles Mortgage-Backed Securities Charges

August 21, 2014 ( - Bank of America has agreed to a settlement of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) claims related to its sales of mortgage-backed securities.

Bank of America has agreed to settle the two SEC cases by paying $245 million, but the bank will also pay $16.65 billion to resolve various investigations involving violations of laws regulated by other federal agencies. California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris announced California will recover $300 million in damages, which will reimburse the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) and the California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS) for losses on investments in mortgage-backed securities of Bank of America and its affiliates. New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced $800 million will go to New York State.

As part of the settlement, Bank of America acknowledged it made serious misrepresentations to the public arising out of the packaging, marketing, sale and issuance of residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) by Bank of America, as well as by Countrywide Financial and Merrill Lynch, institutions that Bank of America acquired in 2008.

Claims by other pension funds alleged the bank knew loans backing the securities did not live up to their promised quality.

A charge filed by the SEC last August claimed Bank of America defrauded investors by neglecting to disclose that more than 70% of the mortgages that backed its residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) offering “BOAMS 2008-A” originated through the bank’s “wholesale” channel of mortgage brokers, unaffiliated with Bank of America entities. Such wholesale channel loans presented greater risks of severe delinquencies, early defaults, underwriting defects and prepayment. Bank of America never disclosed this material information to all investors and never filed it publicly as required under the federal securities laws, the SEC said.