Wells Fargo's Wachovia unit probed for mortgage practices-filing

Tue Nov 6, 2012 3:06pm EST

Nov 6 (Reuters) - The government's investigation of mortgage-related practices at Wells Fargo & Co includes the making and packaging of home loans by its Wachovia unit, the bank said in a filing Tuesday.

The No. 4 U.S. bank by assets disclosed in February that it may face federal enforcement action related to mortgage-backed securities deals leading to the financial crisis.

In Tuesday's quarterly securities filing, Wells Fargo reiterated that it's being investigated for whether it properly disclosed in offering documents the risks associated with its mortgage-backed securities.

The bank also said the government is investigating whether Wells Fargo complied with applicable laws, regulations and documentation requirements relating to mortgage originations and securitizations, including those at Wachovia.

San Francisco-based Wells Fargo acquired Wachovia at the peak of the financial crisis in 2008 as losses in the Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank's mortgage portfolio ballooned.

Mortgages packaged into securities for investors during the housing boom still haunt big banks years later. Banks have been accused of failing to ensure the quality of the loans and for misrepresenting their risk to investors.

In January, the Obama administration set up a special task force to investigate practices related to mortgage-backed securities at banks.

In the group's first action, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman last month filed a civil suit against JPMorgan Chase & Co for alleged fraud at Bear Stearns, which JPMorgan bought at the government's request in 2008.

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