Lawmaker wants oversight of any FHFA, bank deal
Rep. Brad Miller (D-N.C.) is working to form some sort of public oversight for any deal the Federal Housing Finance Agency strikes with banks over recently alleged securities violations. "I think there should be someone looking over their shoulder," Miller said in an interview with HousingWire Tuesday. "We could enlist the help of someone in the Senate, maybe ask the Government Accountability Office to examine potential claims. It's not out of distrust for FHFA but to reassure the public that any deal would benefit taxpayers first." The FHFA filed lawsuits against 17 major banks last week, alleging they misrepresented loan-level data on nearly $190 billion in mortgage-backed securities sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Miller said the future of housing finance, whatever that will look like, hinges on whether or not investors believe in the enforceability of their claims should securities go bad. "Investors have said that it has been so difficult to prove a claim and assert their contractual rights. They will take into account what will be the contractual rights and how enforceable they are before investing in the future," Miller said. "So far, they've said it's like dealing with the Oligarchs in Russia, where the rule of law is nonexistsant. Everybody is going to sue everybody for everything and use every defense." Fannie and Freddie owe the Treasury Department $142.2 billion in bailout with the Congressional Budget Office estimating they could need another $51 billion through 2021. Details of the FHFA lawsuits show private issuers of MBS possibly duped the GSEs on an array of reported data investors usually depend on. While most of the troubles are of Fannie's and Freddie's own doing, Miller has long advocated for any legitimate claim to reduce taxpayer losses. Settling too cheaply, he said, would be an indirect subsidy. "I want our money back," Miller said, "as much as we can get back." Write to Jon Prior. Follow him on Twitter @JonAPrior.