Fannie Mae CEO in hot water months before he steps down

Fannie Mae, FHFA come to Mayopoulos’ defense

Fannie Mae CEO Timothy Mayopoulos is once again in trouble for his romantic relationship, receiving yet another rebuke from a government watchdog.

Mayopoulos was rebuked for not disclosing everything possibly affected by his relationship with TransUnion Chief Legal Officer Heather Russell, according to an article by Lorraine Woellert and Katy O’Donnell for Politico. While the Fannie Mae CEO did disclose his relationship and even recused himself from any business decisions with TransUnion, the watchdog said he did not go far enough.

A report released by Federal Housing Finance Agency Inspector General Lara Wertheimer explained that Fannie Mae and Mayopoulos should have disclosed the CEO’s possible conflict of interest in the credit-scoring project.

But Fannie Mae explained that Mayopoulos did disclose his relationship. 

“Tim proactively disclosed the potential conflict prior to his partner’s employment at TransUnion,” a Fannie Mae spokesperson said. “He executed a standard blanket recusal agreement covering any business decisions related to TransUnion. This blanket recusal was understood by both Tim and the Board to cover TransUnion itself and anything ‘related to’ TransUnion.”

“As a result, it included entities like VantageScore,” the spokesperson continued. “That recusal remains in effect today. Consistent with this recusal, he has not had any involvement with business decisions related to TransUnion or VantageScore.”

And curious timing is making some wonder if there may be more going on than meets the eye. For example, on the same day Mayopoulos announced he will be stepping down from the GSE by the end of this year, the FHFA suddenly announced it was postponing its decision for a new credit scoring model.

The FHFA is currently charged with choosing between credit scoring models from FICO, VantageScore, which is owned by Experian, Equifax and TransUnion, or some sort of combination.

The agency claimed this decision to postpone the decision was made in order to focus to implementing the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act, which passed into law in May.

This was all just three days before the inspector general released its report calling out the agency for its lack of disclosure.

However, Fannie Mae and the FHFA both strongly deny that these events are connected.

“Tim Mayopoulos has been an absolutely outstanding and transformational leader for Fannie Mae over the last nine years, including six years as CEO,” Fannie Mae Chairman Egbert Perry said in a statement to HousingWire. “Any suggestion that the timing of Tim's decision was driven by anything other than his own personal and professional goals is entirely incorrect.”

“We are grateful that Tim has served the country and the company for so long,” Perry said. “We wish he would stay longer, but we respect his decision.”

The FHFA explained once again that the credit score program had nothing to do with Mayopoulos, and that the delay was due to the passage of the banking bill. In fact, FHFA Director Mel Watt objected to the report’s claim that not enough was disclosed, saying recusals should not have to detail every separate project, proposal or initiative that arises.

This rebuke is the latest in a string of potentially questionable behavior coming from the FHFA. Last month, new reports surfaced that Watt is currently under investigation for alleged sexual misconduct against an agency employee. Watt, however, claims these leaked investigation documents are politically motivated.

And in fact, even Wertheimer herself is currently under investigation after allegedly disparaging employees and attempting to intimidate witnesses, among other accusations.

Now, the House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, and the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Ann Wagner, R-Mo., announced the committee plans to hold a hearing for the FHFA. The hearing will be part of its ongoing investigation into various allegations of waste, fraud and abuse by the agency, and will be held no later than September 27, 2018. The committee announced Watt and Mayopoulos will both be invited to testify.

[UPDATE: This article has been updated to include a statement from Fannie Mae.]

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