Teri Buhl, TeriBuhl.com

Teri Buhl
Teri Buhl, the Lois Lane of finance journalism

A mid-size bank touted as a growth stock by analyst this year is under SEC investigation for selling billions of Alt-A loans labeled as Prime loans to Fannie Mae. I reported on the SEC investigation into SunTrust Bank today at Growth Capitalist.

According to whistleblowers, Atlanta-based SunTrust took advantage of a Fannie Mae program designed for the bank’s best of the best borrowers. They called it the Agency Shortcut Mortgage. In 2006, with pressure to keep earnings up as banks like Countrywide were laps head in earnings from resi mortgage origination, borrowers with good credit scores became a target for fraud by SunTrust. The bank needed high credit scores to get entry into the Agency Shortcut Mortgage program but after that SunTrust staff could manipulate the income and assets of the borrowers and force the GSE program to buy the loan. The whistleblower complaint alleges SunTrust did this in the billions from 06 to early 08.

Whistleblowers claim the highest level of management was directing the retail arm, wholesale, and outside mortgage brokers how to beat the Fannie Mae program and were encouraged to re-enter borrower income or assets over and over until the loan qualified. Whistleblowers say, once it was accepted in the Shortcut program underwriters were not allowed to ask for follow-up stated income docs like tax returns and bank statements. That’s because the Shortcut approvals were being done by SunTrust loan officers, branch managers, & mortgage brokers who were paid on volume instead of the bank’s underwriters who should have been hitting the approve button. These SunTrust interested parties basically circumvented the underwriting process by committing automated underwriting fraud. The result was Fannie thought it was buying tons of great prime loans from SunTrust.

Read more here

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