Three things to know about the new Bear Stearns/JP Morgan mortgage deal lawsuit

We may earn a commission from links on this page.
Bear Stearns was acquired by JP Morgan in March 2008.
Bear Stearns was acquired by JP Morgan in March 2008.
Image: AP Photo / Mark Lennihan

Another day, another suit against banks for the sins of the pre-crisis era. The suit brought by New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman Oct. 1 against the former Bear Stearns & Co., now a unit of JPMorgan Chase, alleges Bear Stearns defrauded mortgage investors during the subprime boom times that preceded the investment bank’s near collapse. It was ultimately rescued by JP Morgan’s government-financed acquisition. It’s easy to get lost in the weeds on the legal action that has trickled out in the four years since the crisis hit. But here are a few details that make the Schneiderman case stand out:

“Unlike many of the other mortgage crisis cases brought by regulators such as the Securities and Exchange Commission, the task force’s action does not focus on a particular deal that harmed investors or an individual who was central to a specific transaction. Rather, the suit contends that the improper practices were institutionwide and affected numerous deals during the period,” the New York Times reports.

“The complaint follows the creation of a presidential working group into mortgage fraud, widely seen as an attempt to file big cases before the US elections in November,” the Financial Times reports.

“The lawsuit also uses New York State’s Martin Act, which doesn’t require prosecutors to prove a firm intended to defraud investors to win a case,” the Wall Street Journal reports. (paid)

Like many of the recent cases proceedings against banks, the complaint in the suit contains a few choice tidbits culled from internal Bear Stearns emails. The emails cited allegedly refer to mortgage deals with delightful sobriquets such as “sh** breather” and “sack of sh**.”