published Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

Business Briefs: Fannie, Freddie avoid writeoffs

Fannie, Freddie avoid writeoffs

Resurgent bailout recipients Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have been avoiding billions of dollars in potential long-term losses by delaying the use of new accounting measures that would require them to write off more delinquent mortgages, a government watchdog agency said in a letter released Monday.

Despite a 2012 determination by their regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, that the new accounting rules should be adopted, the agency has allowed Fannie and Freddie to delay implementation until Jan. 1, 2015, according to a letter from Steve A. Linick, the regulator's inspector general. "Three years appears to be an inordinately long period to fully implement" the new rules, Linick wrote to FHFA Acting Director Edward J. DeMarco on Aug. 5. The write-offs would eat into recent record profits by the two mortgage finance giants as the housing market has recovered.

Falcone admits guilt in pact

A major Wall Street figure did something unusual in a settlement with the country's top securities regulator: admit he did something wrong.

Philip Falcone, a billionaire who runs the hedge fund Harbinger Capital Partners, must admit wrongdoing in addition to paying an $18 million penalty to settle two June 2012 enforcement actions by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Under the deal, Falcone will be barred from the securities industry for at least five years.

"Falcone and Harbinger engaged in serious misconduct that harmed investors, and their admissions leave no doubt that they violated the federal securities laws," Andrew Ceresney, the SEC's co-director of enforcement, said in a statement.

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