Freddie Mac Exec Facing Possible SEC Charges

Published February 25, 2011

| Reuters

A top Freddie Mac executive received notice the government may file charges against him for allegedly violating securities laws in the years leading up to the housing bust, according to a regulatory filing released on Thursday.

Executive Vice President Don Bisenius received a "wells notice" from the Securities and Exchange Commission that the agency is considering filing an enforcement action against him for possibly violating federal securities laws and related rules in 2007 and 2008.

The revelation comes just days after a former Freddie Mac chief financial officer Anthony Piszel also received a similar warning from the SEC. Piszel, who was the mortgage giant's CFO between 2006 and 2008, was forced to resign earlier this month from CoreLogic Inc (CLGX), where he was working as the company's chief financial officer.

Freddie Mac and sister entity Fannie Mae have both been under investigation since September 2008 for their role in the mortgage crisis.

The government-controlled entities have been subpoenaed for documents as part of a federal grand jury into their accounting. The SEC and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have also been probing the companies for possible corporate fraud.

"Management has determined that, as of the date of this filing, we have ineffective disclosure controls and procedures and a material weakness in our internal control over financial reporting," Fannie Mae said in a separate filing, also released on Thursday.

FREDDIE MAC SEEKS $500 MILLION; FANNIE MAE $2.6 BILLION

Freddie Mac also said it would need another $500 million from taxpayers after reporting its sixth straight quarterly loss, though it would pay more than three times that amount back to the government in interest on money already borrowed from the government.

Fannie Mae, the largest provider of U.S. residential mortgage funds, said in its filing it would need an additional $2.6 billion from the Treasury Department but would pay an almost equal amount back to taxpayers.

The U.S. Treasury took control of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae at the height of the financial crisis in September 2008 as losses mounted from mortgages gone bad.

Under their takeover terms, the companies must make a 10% dividend payment on the government loans, much as credit card borrowers must make minimum monthly repayments.
Fannie Mae said it lost $2.1 billion in the final three months of last year. The fourth-quarter loss, about $0.37 per share, includes a $2.2 billion dividend payment the company paid to the government.

Smaller Freddie Mac reported a loss of $113 million in the fourth quarter, a tiny fraction of the double digit billions the firm lost in the quarters immediately after the government seized it more than two years ago.

The fourth-quarter loss, about $0.53 per share, includes a $1.6 billion dividend payment Freddie Mac paid to the government.

The two firms are now on the hook for about $134 billion in combined taxpayer aid, excluding dividend payments.

As a result of Freddie Mac's small draw and large repayment, the latest $3.1 billion combined request for new cash is smaller for the first time than the $3.8 billion combined interest payment required.

The plan to put them into conservatorship was meant to be temporary, though it is likely to be years before a long-term replacement structure takes shape.

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