Vancouver, B.C., Canada (April 6, 2011) – Clearlease.com Reports The Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday charged Wachovia Corp. with overpricing mortgage-bond deals, in the first of what could be several suits the regulator brings to clamp down on Wall Street practices.
Wells Fargo & Co (NYSE: WFC) which now owns Wachovia, agreed to settle the SEC’s charges by paying more than $11 million in disgorgement and penalties, much of which the agency said will be returned to harmed investors.
“Wachovia caused significant losses to the Zuni Indians and other investors by violating basic investor-protection rules — don’t charge secret excessive markups, and don’t use stale prices when telling buyers that assets are priced at fair-market value,” said SEC Division of Enforcement Director Robert Khuzami.
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The agency is focusing on the amounts Wachovia charged for collateralized debt obligations, and the inquiry is part of a broader probe into Wall Street sales of $1 trillion worth of CDOs.
CDOs are a type of security often made up of the riskier portions of mortgage-backed securities. Read about CDOs role in the financial crisis.
The SEC’s order found that Wachovia violated securities laws by charging “undisclosed excessive markups” in shares of CDOs to the Zuni Indian Tribe and to an individual investor.
According to the SEC, Wachovia allegedly marked down $5.5 million of equity to 52.7 cents on the dollar after the deal closed and it was unable to find a buyer. Months later, the SEC said, the Zuni Indian Tribe and individual investor paid 90 cents and 95 cents on the dollar for the securities, the agency added. Read about Merrill Lynch and CDO disclosures
“Unbeknownst to them, these prices were over 70 percent higher than the price at which the equity had been marked for accounting purposes,” the SEC said.
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