UBS has reached an agreement with the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) to settle a legacy matter from 2006-2007, related to the issuance, underwriting and sale of residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS). Under the terms of the settlement, UBS will pay USD 1.435bn to resolve all civil claims by the DOJ in connection with UBS’s legacy RMBS business in the US.
The government’s complaint alleged that contrary to UBS’ representations in publicly filed offering documents, UBS knew that significant numbers of the loans backing the RMBS did not comply with loan underwriting guidelines that were designed to assess borrowers’ ability to repay. The complaint further asserted that UBS knew that the property values associated with a significant number of the securitized loans were unsupported, and that significant numbers of the loans had not been originated in accordance with consumer protection laws. UBS was allegedly aware of these significant problems because it had conducted extensive due diligence on the underlying loans prior to the RMBS being issued to determine whether the loans were consistent with representations that would be made to investors. Ultimately, the 40 RMBS sustained substantial losses.
“This settlement represents accountability from those who thought they were above the law,” said U.S. Attorney Ryan Buchanan for the Northern District of Georgia. “UBS’ conduct at issue in this case played a significant role in causing a financial crisis that harmed millions of Americans. We will continue to seek accountability when financial institutions – large or small – misrepresent vital information to investors and undermine trust in our public markets.”