From the WSJ:
FDIC Faces Mortgage Mess After Running Failed Bank
Subprime Lender Made Problem Loans On Regulators’ Watch
By MARK MAREMONT
July 21, 2008; Page A1
Federal officials heap much of the blame for the subprime mortgage mess on lenders, claiming they recklessly made too many high-cost home loans to borrowers who couldn’t afford them.
It turns out that the U.S. government itself was one of the lenders giving out high-interest, subprime mortgages, some of them predatory, according to government documents filed in federal court.
The unusual situation, which is still bedeviling bank regulators, stems from the 2001 seizure by federal officials of Superior Bank FSB, then a national subprime lender based in Hinsdale, Ill. Rather than immediately shuttering or selling Superior, as it normally does with failed banks, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. continued to run the bank’s subprime-mortgage business for months as it looked for a buyer. With FDIC people supervising day-to-day operations, Superior funded more than 6,700 new subprime loans worth more than $550 million, according to federal mortgage data.
The FDIC then sold a big chunk of the loans to another bank. That loan pool was afflicted by the same problems for which regulators have faulted the industry: lending to unqualified borrowers, inflated appraisals and poor verification of borrowers’ incomes, according to a written report from a government-hired expert. The report said that many of the loans never should have been made in the first place.
At the time the FDIC was running Superior, subprime lending hadn’t yet emerged as the national disaster it since has become. But some lending experts already were faulting industry practices and warning about rising delinquencies. The FDIC’s problems with Superior could fuel criticism that bank regulators were slow to heed warning signs.
In a recent court filing, the FDIC estimated that about 1,500 of the 5,315 loans it sold to Beal either have defaulted or are nonperforming. The FDIC already has bought back another 247 of the mortgages, most of them for violations of federal anti-predatory-lending laws intended to protect borrowers from unreasonably high fees or deceptive practices. Beal Bank has said in court filings that 73 of the repurchased loans were originated while the FDIC was running Superior.
The FDIC says that was a draft report. Last month, the agency filed a final version in court, which estimated that about 19% of the loans sold to Beal contained “material” breaches of the warranties — meaning there were significant problems with close to 1,000 mortgages. This version of the report blames Beal Bank for some of the portfolio’s lost value, saying it serviced the loans in an “inferior” manner.