Jurisdictional Lessons from Mt. Gox Cryptocurrency Litigation

Last week, on the heels of a significant decline in Bitcoin prices, Forbes reported that China’s Central Bank is set to launch the world’s first state-backed cryptocurrency. The cryptocurrency will be made available initially to seven of China’s largest financial institutions, including three banks and two financial technology companies (including Alibaba).  It is planned to eventually reach the virtual wallets of U.S. consumers, through relationships with Western correspondent banks.

Meanwhile, in the United States, litigation rages on against Mark Karpeles, the President and CEO of Mt. Gox. Formerly the world’s leading bitcoin exchange platform, Mt. Gox filed for bankruptcy protection in Japan in 2014 amidst reports of rampant security breaches and refusal by its Japanese banking partner, Mizuho Bank, to process withdrawals for Mt. Gox users. Before its bankruptcy, Mt. Gox announced that 850,000 bitcoins valued at more than $450 million had gone “missing,” likely due to cyber theft.

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CFPB Decision on “GSE Patch” Revives Debate About Prudent Underwriting

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recently announced that it will allow the so-called “GSE patch” to expire in January 2021.[1] This patch permits Government-Sponsored Entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to buy loans even though the borrower’s debt-to-income (“DTI”) ratio exceeds the standard limit of 43%.[2]

The CFPB’s decision revives a long-standing debate about what constitutes a creditworthy loan. By eliminating the patch, the DTI ratio of 43% will become an absolute rule, making any loans with higher DTI’s ineligible for GSE funding.[3]

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From RMBS to SLABS: Is History Repeating Itself?

popping bubbleThe fallout from the last financial crisis and recession is far from over. More than a decade after the demise of Lehman and Bear Stearns, among others, litigation continues related to alleged deficiencies in mortgage loans securitized as part of residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) offerings. Our firm thus remains extremely busy with, for example, defense of mortgage loan originators and brokers sued for purported breaches of contractual indemnification provisions and representations and warranties — regarding loans sold prior to 2008. Continue Reading

New Second Circuit Statute of Limitations Ruling A Benefit to Loan Originators, Brokers

protectionAs originators and brokers of mortgage loans continue to get served with new lawsuits (or threatened with potential suits) related to loans that they conveyed to aggregators prior to the financial crisis of 2008, questions almost inevitably arise as to how this is even possible: aren’t such claims time-barred under the applicable statute of limitations? The answer is more complicated than the originator or broker might have initially thought. It can depend on what state’s law applies under the pertinent contract, for example. For many judges, it can also depend on whether the aggregator plaintiff characterizes its claim as one for “indemnification,” rather than “breach of contract” or “repurchase.” Continue Reading

New York High Court Rules on Statute of Limitations

RMBSOver the last several years, we have posted several times about whether the statute of limitations bars remedies against lenders (and sometimes sponsors and trustees) of residential mortgages. (See here, here, and here). One of the most important cases in this area has been ACE Sec. Corp., Home Equity Loan Trust, Series 2006–SL2 v. DB Structured Prods., Inc.[1]

We had discussed the intermediate appellate court decision in ACE in 2013. In 2015, the New York Court of Appeals affirmed the intermediate court, holding “that a cause of action for breach of representations and warranties contained within a residential mortgage-backed securities contract accrued when the contract was executed because the representations and warranties were breached if at all, on that date.”[2] Continue Reading

Jury, Not Judge, Must Decide Meaning of Representations

judge

Last month, New York’s intermediate appellate court reversed a grant of summary judgment in favor of plaintiff MBIA Ins. Corp.[1] MBIA, an insurer of RMBS trusts and a common plaintiff in this type of litigation, had sued Credit Suisse, the sponsor of the trusts.

The trial court had ruled as a matter of law that a “No Monetary Default” representation and warranty (R&W) encompassed borrower misrepresentation. The trial court also had ruled as a matter of law that the “Mortgage Loan Schedule” R&W guaranteed not just that the Mortgage Loan Schedule (MLS) had accurately transcribed information from the loan file, but also the underlying accuracy of the information in the MLS. Continue Reading

Lehman Brothers Seeks to Expand Lawsuits Against Loan Originators

lawsuitLast week, Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. (“LBHI”) filed two new motions in its ongoing Southern District of New York Bankruptcy Court litigation against approximately 130 loan originators and brokers: (1) an Omnibus Motion for Leave to File Third Amended Complaints Pursuant to Rule 7015 of the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure (“Motion for Leave to Amend Complaint”); and (2) a Motion for Leave to Amend and Extend the Scope of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Procedures Orders for Indemnification Claims of the Debtors against Mortgage Loan Sellers (“ADR Motion”).  This firm currently represents more than a dozen of the defendants. Continue Reading

Chase Lets Loose a Barrage of New Indemnification Demand Letters

Ten years after the financial crisis, mortgage companies and regional/local banks are still getting hit with new breach of contract and indemnification claims related to loans sold before the crisis. The latest case in point involves demand letters that JPMorgan Chase is sending out to lenders throughout the country. The letters pertain to loans sold by originators to EMC, Bear Stearns and Chase prior to 2008. Chase then pooled those loans with loans it originated on a retail basis, depositing the pools into residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) trusts. Institutional investors and monoline insurers subsequently sued Chase, alleging securities fraud and other causes of action.

Chase ultimately settled with 21 institutional investors for $4 billion. Now it is seeking to recoup from originators sums that it claims to be owed as a result of the settlement payments it agreed to make. The kinds of claims that Chase is making — particularly given that these are “indemnification” claims made in the aftermath of settlement of RMBS-related allegations against Chase, which structured the RMBS transactions, selected the loans for inclusion in each “pool” of loans, and made representations, warranties and other disclosures to investors and insurers about the loans that Chase selected — raise several interesting issues, and potentially strong defenses (legally and factually), for the originators now receiving the demand letters. Originators are thus well advised to carefully and thoroughly evaluate their legal options when they receive these letters. There are a lot of grounds on which to defend against this type of threatened claim.

A Decade on, Crisis-Era Litigation Still Bedevils Banks

Banks and other financial institutions might reasonably have expected that, 10 years after the collapse of Bear Stearns and the demise of Lehman Brothers, they would finally be free and clear of lawsuits spawned by the financial crisis.

That has not come to pass. Nor does freedom from legal actions rooted in the events of that era appear imminent.

This circumstance should be seen not just as an annoyance for banks, or another indication of how slowly our judicial system and claims resolution processes often operate. Instead, it is an opportunity for proactive, potentially curative action. Banks can take steps now that would minimize, or at least expedite resolution of, certain types of legal claims that tend to proliferate in the aftermath of a crisis. Continue Reading

EB-5 Program Extension Allows Developers More Time to Obtain Financing

Last week H.R.1625 – Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018 was enacted. The Act includes a continuation of funding, until September 30, 2018, for the EB-5 Regional Center Program.

EB-5 financing has been a low cost financing alternative for real estate developers when compared to other capital sources. EB-5 credit facilities are typically structured as staged funding vehicles for pre-vertical costs and expenses. While the projects differ as to concept (eg., high rise, mixed-use, single family, and condo projects), EB-5 financing has played a vital role in allowing our developer clients to move projects forward, while at the same time allowing developers to recoup sizable portions of their initial outlays, including for land acquisition. In two of the transactions we recently handled, the EB-5 financings were extended before a senior mortgage loan facility and other components of the capital stack had been finalized. Continue Reading

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