Just when you think the beleaguered bankers of the world can finally stop dealing with pesky investigations into their roles in the recent financial ugliness (some would call it a global economic meltdown), some Columbo-like snoop has to say, “Just one more thing” and open up all new cans of worms. The latest can-opener is New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who has reportedly begun a broad investigation of Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and Morgan Stanley.
According to the NY Times, the AG’s office has recently requested documents from — and meetings with execs at — all three of these bank biggies. The focus appears to be on the banks’ pre-bust bundling of toxic mortgages into securities, though the Times says it isn’t yet clear what exactly the investigation is hoping to uncover.
One possible avenue of investigation involves allegations that the banks knowingly misled investors about the quality of the worthless mortgages in the bundles they were buying.
And then there are those who say the banks didn’t quite tell mortgage insurers everything they needed to know about loans they were insuring against default — namely that they were most definitely going to be defaulted on.
A third possibility is a look into why the banks extended billions in credit to “aggressive” mortgage lenders, allowing them to continue writing loans they knew would never likely be repaid.
From the NY Times:
The requests for information by Mr. Schneiderman’s office also seem to confirm that the New York attorney general is operating independently of peers from other states who are negotiating a broad settlement with large banks over foreclosure practices.
By opening a new inquiry into bank practices, Mr. Schneiderman has indicated his unwillingness to accept one of the settlement’s terms proposed by financial institutions — that is, a broad agreement by regulators not to conduct additional investigations into the banks’ activities during the mortgage crisis. Mr. Schneiderman has said in recent weeks that signing such a release was unacceptable.