U.S. judge dismisses FDIC lawsuit against banks over mortgage bonds

NEW YORK, Sept 2 Tue Sep 2, 2014 12:51pm EDT

NEW YORK, Sept 2 (Reuters) - A judge on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation against banks including Deutsche Bank AG and Credit Suisse Group AG over mortgage-backed securities sold before the 2008 financial crisis.

U.S. District Judge Louis Stanton in New York found the FDIC's case, brought in its capacity as receiver for an Alabama bank, was filed too late, citing a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision.

A statute relied on by the banking regulator to bring this and similar cases on behalf of banks it seized "did not give the FDIC more time to bring claims that would otherwise have been lost," Stanton wrote.

The ruling conflicted with a decision days earlier from another judge in the same court who is presiding over similar mortgage cases brought by the Federal Housing Finance Agency. It could prompt a closely watched appeal if the FDIC seeks to revive the case.

Other banks impacted by the ruling include Wells Fargo & Co , Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc and HSBC Holdings Plc.

A spokesman for the FDIC declined comment. Representatives for the banks either declined comment or did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The FDIC filed the lawsuit in 2012, accusing the banks of violating federal securities laws in connection with mortgage bonds they issued or underwrote that were then bought for $388 million by Colonial Bank, an Alabama lender that failed in 2009.

Bank of America Corp, JPMorgan Chase & Co and Citigroup settled with the FDIC as part of multibillion-dollar global deals negotiated by the U.S. Department of Justice.

The remaining banks sought dismissal of the case after the Supreme Court in June issued a decision in an environmental case, CTS v. Waldburger, that raised similar questions about the timing of lawsuits.

The FDIC argued that a provision in the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act (FIRREA) extended the period of time in which it could bring a case on behalf of a bank it seized.

The issue of whether U.S. regulators suing banks over mortgage securities issued before the financial crisis can pursue cases under such so-called extender statutes has divided courts following the Supreme Court ruling.

On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Denise Cote in New York found that a similar statute allowed the FHFA to pursue two mortgage-backed securities lawsuits primarily targeting HSBC and Nomura Holdings Inc.

Her ruling followed an Aug. 19 decision from the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver finding that FIRREA allowed the National Credit Union Administration to pursue cases against banks including RBS, Nomura and Wells Fargo.

The FDIC, meanwhile, saw two other lawsuits against banks including Goldman Sachs Group Inc and Bank of America's Merrill Lynch dismissed last month by a federal judge in Texas who said they were too late.

The case is Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation v. Chase Mortgage Finance Corp, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 12-061666. (Reporting by Nate Raymond in New York; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Leslie Adler)

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