WASHINGTON (AP) – British bank HSBC has agreed to pay $550 million to resolve US claims that it misled US mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac about risky mortgage securities it sold them before the housing market collapsed in 2007.
The Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie and Freddie, announced the settlement Friday with HSBC.
London-based HSBC is Europe’s largest bank and also has extensive operations in the US Its US division has about $289 billion in assets, making it the 9th largest bank in the US
HSBC sold the securities to the two mortgage companies between 2005 and 2007. Under the settlement, HSBC is paying $176 million to Fannie and $374 million to Freddie.
“We are pleased to have resolved this matter,” Stuart Alderoty, HSBC North America’s senior executive vice president and general counsel, said in a statement.
The settlement is the latest federal government agreement over actions related to the financial crisis that struck in 2008. The meltdown, triggered by vast sales of high-risk mortgage securities, plunged the economy into the deepest recession since the Great Depression.
The securities soured after the housing bubble burst in 2007, losing billions in value.
The government rescued Fannie and Freddie at the height of the financial crisis in September 2008 when they were on the verge of collapse. The companies received taxpayer aid totaling $187 billion. They have since become profitable and repaid the full bailouts.
The FHFA sued 18 financial institutions in 2011 over their sales of mortgage securities to Fannie and Freddie. The total price for the securities sold was $196 billion. The agency said Friday it has now reached settlements with all but two of the banks.
A number of big banks, including Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, Bank of America and Citigroup, previously have been accused of abuses in sales of securities linked to mortgages in the years leading up to the crisis.
Together, they have paid hundreds of millions in penalties to settle civil charges brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission, which accused them of deceiving investors about the quality of the bonds they sold.
Goldman agreed in 2010 to pay $550 million to settle the SEC’s charges, the largest penalty against a Wall Street firm in the agency’s history.
In recent months, the Justice Department and state regulators have reached multibillion-dollar agreements over mortgage securities with JPMorgan, Citigroup and Bank of America.