Morgan Stanley To Pay $102M In Connection With New Century Loans

Stanley will pay $102 million in connection with Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley's investigation into the company's securitization and financing of subprime loans. Under the agreement, Morgan Stanley will pay $58 million in relief to more than 1,000 Massachusetts homeowners, $23 million to the Massachusetts Pension Fund for investment losses and $19.5 million in taxpayer money to the commonwealth's general fund. ‘Our extensive investigation revealed that Morgan Stanley not only backed loans for homeowners that they should have known were destined to fail, [but] they also caused additional damage in the subprime marketplace,’ Coakley said in a statement Thursday. Coakley's office alleged that Morgan entered the subprime arena in Massachusetts by offering funding to retail lenders that specialized in loans to less-qualified borrowers. Morgan Stanley provided warehouse lending services to New Century, which used the funds to target lower-income borrowers and lure them into loans that Coakley says consumers predictably could not afford to pay. It is illegal under Massachusetts law to make loans without reasonably assessing a borrower's ability to pay the loan according to its terms. Morgan Stanley would place the New Century-originated loans into a securitization pool, and then act as the underwriter selling investments backed by the subprime loans in the pool. As part of this securitization process, Morgan Stanley employed third-party due-diligence providers to review the quality of New Century's loans. During this review, Morgan Stanley learned that New Century repeatedly violated the Massachusetts Division of Banks' "borrower best interest" standard when it made subprime loans, Coakley's office alleges. The review also revealed that New Century calculated the debt-to-income ratio for borrowers based only on the initial "teaser rate" for the loans, rather than the fully indexed interest rate that would kick in after the teaser period expired. When calculated using the fully indexed rate, almost 40% of the loans failed Morgan Stanley's own internal underwriting standards for whether the borrower could pay them. The large majority of New Century loans failed the basic test of its own underwriting guidelines and could only be approved as "exception" loans, which required the presence of "compensating factors." Sample reviews by Morgan Stanley vendors showed that many of these loans violated the guidelines in several different ways, and about one-third of the randomly sampled loans lacked compensating factors to justify the extension of credit. In late 2005 and early 2006, Morgan Stanley began rejecting greater numbers of New Century loans as a result of the due-diligence findings. According to Coakley's office, after New Century suggested it would shift its business elsewhere, Morgan Stanley again began to include a wider range of New Century loans in its purchase pools. A Morgan Stanley senior banker purchased loans that Morgan's own internal due-diligence team initially rejected, and Morgan Stanley waived vendor concerns regarding a substantial number of the New Century loans identified as having material problems. Moreover, Morgan Stanley continued to lend money to the subprime originator, even when other banks would no longer provide New Century with cash. During early March 2007, Morgan Stanley provided millions of dollars that New Century used directly to finance a last round of subprime loans in Massachusetts. Throughout 2006 and the first half of 2007, Morgan Stanley continued to securitize New Century's predatory subprime loans and sold investments to two Massachusetts state entities – the Massachusetts Pension Reserves Investment Trust and the Massachusetts Municipal Depository Trust. This led to significant losses for the entities. SOURCE: [link=]Office of Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley


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