SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Litigation Release No. 20227 / August 7, 2007
Accounting and Auditing Enforcement Release No. 2664 / August 7, 2007
Securities and Exchange Commission v. First BanCorp, 07-CV-7039 (Crotty, J.) (S.D.N.Y. filed August 7, 2007)
First BanCorp Settles Financial Fraud Charges With SEC and Agrees to Pay $8.5 Million Penalty
The Securities and Exchange Commission today filed financial fraud charges against First BanCorp, alleging that former senior management of the NYSE-listed, Puerto Rico-based bank holding company concealed the true nature of more than $4 billion worth of transactions involving “non-conforming” mortgages from 2000 until 2005. Non-conforming mortgages have income verification and credit history standards that are generally more flexible than those required for sale or exchange under Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac programs and can constitute “subprime” mortgages.
The Commission’s complaint charges First BanCorp with aiding and abetting violations of the federal securities laws by Doral Financial Corporation, another NYSE-listed, Puerto Rico-based bank holding company. Doral Financial previously consented to the entry of a court order enjoining it from violating the antifraud, reporting, books and records and internal control provisions of the federal securities laws and ordering that it pay a $25 million civil penalty [LR-19837 (Sept. 19, 2006)].
According to today’s complaint, First BanCorp, which purportedly purchased the non-conforming mortgages from Doral Financial, profited from the transactions by earning more than $100 million in net interest income at little or no risk. Doral Financial, which purportedly sold the mortgages to First BanCorp, improperly recognized income on the transactions. According to the Commission, the mortgage-related transactions were not true sales under generally accepted accounting principles because senior management of Doral Financial agreed orally and in emails to extend the recourse provision beyond the 24-month period included in the written agreements to recourse for the duration of the mortgages.
The Commission’s complaint, which was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, charges First BanCorp with aiding and abetting violations of Sections 10(b), 13(a), 13(b)(2)(A) and 13(b)(2)(B) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rules 10b-5, 12b-20 13a-1 and 13a-13. Without admitting or denying the Commission’s charges, First BanCorp consented to being permanently enjoined from violating those antifraud, reporting, books and records and internal control provisions of the federal securities laws and to paying an $8.5 million civil penalty.
The Commission acknowledges the assistance of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the Federal Deposit Insurance Company.
The Commission’s investigation is continuing.