Loan securitizer DB Structured Products, a division of Deutsche Bank, agreed to pay $11.5 million to settle a Nevada Attorney General investigation into the firm’s packaging and selling of subprime and Alt-A loans.
It’s just the latest in a long line of cases involving companies heavily invested in the mass securitization of mortgages prior to the housing meltdown.
And this phenomenon is far from over. While it's one of the smaller cases filed by an attorney general, it's unlikely to be the last, despite the crisis now being six years old.
"The legacy mortgage origination and servicing litigation cases could go on for at least a few years more before further clarity has been reached," said Ron D’Vari, CEO and co-founder of NewOak Capital.
The Nevada AG initially launched the investigation to determine if the original lenders incorporated tricky features that disguised underwriting and loan quality issues.
The loans stem from some of the larger mortgage players working at the time, including New Century, American Home Mortgage and MortgageIT. DB ended up on the firing line as the securitizer of the mortgages.
Nevada AG Catherine Cortez Masto examined DB to determine if it knew about some of the underlying mortgage issues.
DB settled the case this week, agreeing not to securitize loans in the future if it discovers the mortgages violate any portion of the Nevada Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
Furthermore, DB will not securitize mortgages if it finds the lender failed to disclose risky items, such as teaser rates, to borrowers.
The settlement comes two years after the Nevada AG launched its investigation. Loans tied to the probe date back as far as 2004-2007.
The $11.5 million settlement covers payments to harmed borrowers and supports mortgage-fraud enforcement activities.
Investors in residential mortgage-backed securities are likely to see these cases linger on for a while, analysts say.
Ron D’Vari with NewOak is quick to point out, "these litigations are not against investors but are between state AGs and various purchasers/securitizers."
The net gain or loss by investors is hard to predict. D’Vari says any settlements from cases involving AGs and investors are unlikely to have a direct impact on trusts (or bond investors). Of course, suits brought by investors, mortgage guarantors and monolines may have some impact on the investor side of the house.
Any benefits, if there are any, are usually indirect, D’Vari pointed out.
What is certain is the settlements are large, and risks remain.