Investor Lawsuits Are Raising the Heat on Bank of America for ‘Putbacks’

One of the straightest paths this country could take toward Bank Bailout 2, the Sequel, would be through forcing financial institutions to buy back the lousy mortgage-backed securities they sold before the meltdown. Large-scale buybacks could open gaping wounds on bank balance sheets, a risk Bank of America (BAC) is particularly vulnerable to because it swallowed Countrywide’s gigantic — and now infamously fraudulent — mortgage machine. Regardless of that risk, banks should have to follow the rules of their contracts, and the law. But getting BofA to buy back its mortgage junk won’t be easy.

As of June 30, 2010, BofA faced some $11 billion in requests for repurchase of such securities. Most of those requests came from government-sponsored entities such as Fannie Mae, from bond insurers, and from major investors. Less than a third of a percent — $33 million — were from so called “private label” buyers.

But those securities-holders are now beginning to make their demands, too. Investors in more than $1 billion of securities backed by 2006 vintage Countrywide mortgages have filed an unusual lawsuit to try to get many of those mortgages repurchased. That case, filed Wednesday in New York state court, is Walnut Place LLC v. Countrywide Home Loans Inc, and is one of the first investor putback efforts. Unsurprisingly, Bank of America told Reuters the suit was “meritless.”

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