Banks seek U.S. appeals court intervention in FHFA lawsuits

NEW YORK, March 27 Wed Mar 27, 2013 5:14pm EDT

NEW YORK, March 27 (Reuters) - Fifteen major banks sued by the Federal Housing Finance Agency over risky housing debt urged a federal appeals court on Wednesday to intervene, citing "gravely prejudicial" rulings by the trial judge coordinating the litigation.

In a joint petition filed with the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York, the banks said U.S. District Judge Denise Cote, had "systematically deprived" them of evidence to defend themselves, and issued rulings aimed at coercing settlements.

The banks, which include UBS AG, JPMorgan Chase & Co and Bank of America Corp, want to reverse several of Cote's rulings, and get more access to information about what Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac knew about mortgage debt they bought prior to the 2008 financial crisis.

The FHFA acts as conservator for Fannie and Freddie, which bought the $200 billion in securities at the center of the lawsuits.

A spokeswoman for the FHFA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.