3:28 pm Nov. 20, 20121
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced another mortgage-related lawsuit today, a civil suit against Credit Suisse that mirrors another recent suit against JPMorgan, and he hinted that more such suits were still to come.
"Well, the working group just got going this spring," he said on a conference call with reporters, when asked if the investigations were winding down. "And I think we still have a long way to go. I'm looking forward to working with our partners on further cases, there are other institutions that are being scrutinized. So we're a long way from wrapping this up, I'd say."
Schneiderman was named the co-chair of a federal task force to investigate the housing market, after pushing his fellow attorneys general to demand more from the big banks that contributed to the housing market. Like his action against JPMorgan, the suit against Credit Suissie alleges that the bank improperly vetted the housing loans that it packaged and sold to investors, which led to losses of approximately $11.2 billion.
On the call, Schneiderman was asked why it's taken so long to bring these actions, most of which cite conduct that occurred before the housing crisis.
"I, you know, from our point of view, we started the investigation a few months after I took office and first subpoenaed Credit Suisse last June," he said. "From my point of view, we proceeded as quickly as we possibly could."
"So we've moved as quickly as we can," he added, "I can't really speak to what was going on prior to that."
Schneiderman has resisted comparing his own aggressive action on mortgages to that of his predecessor, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who rode his performance as attorney general into the governor's mansion. But a reporter asked specifically about Cuomo on today's call, saying she remembered him issuing subpoenas and doing some due diligence work, "so there seems to be a gap of a couple of years there."
"There were some subpoenas, there was a cooperation agreement entered into with one of the critical third-party due diligence firms, Clayton Holdings, but we have broadened the investigation, and significantly expanded it since I got into office," Schneiderman said.
Asked about the possibility for criminal prosecutions, Schneiderman said it was still possible despite some impending statutes of limitations which would seem to put conduct before the crisis out of reach.
"There still is an opening for complaints against individuals and we will see where the evidence leads us," he said, adding that "certainly nothing has been foreclosed by any of the actions we have taken."