State sues Countrywide for $14 million

| Print |  Email
The Latest
Wednesday, January 26, 2011

By Ben Jacklet

Oregon has filed two lawsuits against the infamous subprime mortgage lender Countrywide in an attempt to recover $14 million in losses to the state's pension and worker's comp funds.

The state bought and sold Countrywide shares on behalf of the public employees retirement fund and the SAIF worker's comp investment fund during the height of the subprime madness, between 2004 and 2008. But they didn't sell quickly enough.  Attorney General John Kroger and State Treasurer Ted Wheeler argue that Countrywide misled investors about the high risk of its mortgages.

The state was due to receive $500,000 as part of a national class action settlement but Kroger and Wheeler elected to reject that settlement and to file their own lawsuits. Their complaints allege that Countrywide made "numerous statements of material facts in reporting its financial results" while aggressively selling risky products for short term gain. One high risk product that brought short term gains and long term disaster was the "pay-option" adjusted rate mortgage, which led frequently to negative amortization. The longer the borrower held the loan, the more he or she owed on it.

Not surprisingly, Countrywide went down in flames during the subprime meltdown. Bank of America bought up the remains in January 2008.

At least some of the resulting mayhem could have been avoided. The Oregon complaints, filed today in Multnomah County Court, offer numerous examples of Countrywide executives expressing deep concerns about big risks internally. The company's chief risk officer directly warned his colleagues about "high expected default rates and losses." But those concerns never made it out to investors until it was too late.

Ben Jacklet is managing editor of Oregon Business.

 

More Articles

5 stats about Oregon fireworks

The Latest
Thursday, June 18, 2015
fireworksthumb001BY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Fireworks are a booming industry, even if the pyrotechnics have turned July 4th into a day fire marshals, and many residents, love to hate.


Read more...

Urban renewer

Linda Baker
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
UnknownBY LINDA BAKER   

One year after he was appointed chair of the Portland Development Commission, Tom Kelly talks about PDC's longevity, Neil Kelly's comeback and his new role as Portlandia's landlord.


Read more...

Apartment Mania

Guest Blog
Thursday, June 18, 2015
4805983977 11466ce1d6 zBY BRAD HOULE | CFA

While most categories of commercial real estate have performed well, one of the most robust has been apartment buildings.


Read more...

Marijuana law ushers in new business age

The Latest
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
062315panelthumbBY KIM MOORE | RESEARCH EDITOR

Oregon’s new marijuana law is expected to lead to a bevy of new business opportunities for the state. And not just for growers. Law firms, HR consultants, energy efficiency companies and many others are expected to benefit from the decriminalization of pot, according to panelists at an Oregon Business breakfast meeting on Tuesday.


Read more...

The Private 150: From Strength to Strength

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY KIM MOORE

Revenues in Oregon's private, for profit sector maintained solid growth as the economy continued to rebound.


Read more...

Department of Self-Promotion

Linda Baker
Wednesday, June 17, 2015

061715-awards1Oregon Business wins journalism awards.


Read more...

Quake as metaphor

Linda Baker
Tuesday, July 14, 2015
071515-earthquakia-thumbBY LINDA BAKER

The Big One serves as an allegory for Portland, a city that earns plaudits for lifestyle and amenities but whose infrastructure is, literally, crumbling.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS