American Fidelity sues Countrywide, Mozilo over MBS
Countrywide Financial and former executives of the subprime lender are facing a lawsuit filed by institutional investor American Fidelity Assurance, which claims Countrywide sold the firm approximately $48 million in securities backed by toxic subprime loans. AFAC said in its claim that the firm was led to believe "it was buying highly-rated, safe securities backed by pools of loans with specifically-represented risk profiles, in fact, as the defendants knew, the loans offloaded onto AFAC were a toxic mix of loans made to borrowers to purchase properties which they could not afford." The suit was filed April 1, in the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma. In the suit, American Fidelity names Countrywide, its former CEO Angelo Mozilo and several other key executives as defendants. Countrywide was acquired by Bank of America (BAC) in the heat of the financial crisis and is now under the BofA umbrella. Bank of America released a statement about the suit Tuesday morning, saying, "We are still reviewing the complaint, but this unfortunately appears to be a situation where a sophisticated investor is looking to blame someone for investment losses attributable to the broader economic downturn." American Fidelity said it acquired the toxic certificates between 2005 and 2007 and accuses Countrywide of beginning in 2003 "to ignore the underwriting standards it touted. Countrywide was singularly focused on increasing its market share, offloading the risk onto AFAC and other institutional investors that purchased securities backed by pools of Countrywide’s mortgages," the plaintiffs alleged in the suit. American Fidelity also claims the certificates Countrywide sold to AFAC were "sold pursuant to registration statements and prospectuses that contained untrue statements." AFAC claims the loans were so poorly underwritten that it sustained significant losses when the value plummeted. Write to Kerri Panchuk.