"Never again, regulators vowed"
May 18, 2020 8:13 AM Subscribe
Whistleblower: Wall Street Has Engaged in Widespread Manipulation of Mortgage Funds (Heather Vogell, ProPublica, 15 May 2020)
ProPublica closely examined six loans that were part of CMBS in recent years to see if their data resembles the pattern described by the whistleblower. What we found matched the allegations: The historical profits reported for some buildings were listed as much as 30% higher than the profits previously reported for the same buildings and same years when the property was part of an earlier CMBS. As a rough analogy, imagine a homeowner having stated in a mortgage application that his 2017 income was $100,000 only to claim during a later refinancing that his 2017 income was $130,000 — without acknowledging or explaining the change.. . . .
After lobbying by commercial real estate organizations and advocacy by real estate investor and Trump ally Tom Barrack — who warned of a looming commercial mortgage crash — the Federal Reserve pledged in early April to prop up CMBS by loaning money to investors and letting them use their CMBS as collateral. The goal is to stabilize the market at a time when investors may be tempted to dump their securities, and also to support banks in issuing new bonds. (Barrack’s company, Colony Capital, has since defaulted on $3.2 billion in debt backed by hotel and health care properties, according to the Financial Times.)
The Fed didn’t specify how much it’s willing to spend to support the CMBS, and it is allowing only those with the highest credit ratings to be used as collateral. But if some ratings are based on misleading data, as the complaint alleges, taxpayers could be on the hook for a riskier-than-anticipated portfolio of loans.