Additional serious accounting problems at Fannie Mae recently discovered by federal regulators could mean as much as $2. 8 billion in further losses.
WASHINGTON — Additional serious accounting problems at Fannie Mae recently discovered by federal regulators could mean as much as $2.8 billion in further losses, according to an analysis based on information provided by the embattled mortgage giant.
Fannie Mae shares, which have been battered in the weeks since its accounting crisis came to light in September, lost nearly 2 percent on the latest disclosure, which was reported yesterday in The Wall Street Journal.
The anticipated restatement of some $9 billion in earnings could climb to nearly $12 billion if the company has to recognize the full $2.8 billion in additional estimated losses, the Journal reported in yesterday’s editions.
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Corinne Russell, spokeswoman for Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO), which supervises Fannie Mae, declined comment, saying the agency would not discuss matters related to a possible restatement of earnings. Fannie Mae spokesman Brian Faith and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) spokesman Matt Well also declined comment.
Fannie Mae shares fell $1.10, or 1.9 percent, to close at $58.51 yesterday. That is near their recent 52-week low of $56.45.
The newspaper cited a disclosure in Fannie Mae’s report for last year’s second quarter showing $2.76 billion in losses on a type of derivatives, financial instruments it uses to hedge against interest-rate swings. The derivatives in question are called mortgage commitments, undertakings by the company to buy mortgage loans and mortgages bundled into securities from banks and other lenders. Losses on such commitments can occur when interest rates rise after the company has agreed to buy the loans at a previously agreed rate.
Stephen Ryan, an accounting professor and derivatives specialist at New York University who analyzed the Fannie Mae financial reports, told the Journal that some or all of the $2.76 billion in losses may have to be counted against the company’s second-quarter earnings and the reserve capital it is required to hold as security against risk.
An investigation last year found serious accounting problems at the biggest U.S. buyer of home mortgages as well as a pervasive pattern of earnings manipulation and lax internal controls.
The SEC ordered Fannie Mae in December to restate its earnings back to 2001, a correction estimated at $9 billion. The company’s chief executive, Seattle native Franklin Raines, and its chief financial officer were forced out by the board.