Freddie Mac CFO suicide

by JASON | 6:42 AM in |

Report: Acting Freddie Mac CFO Commits Suicide
2009-04-22 05:02am

The acting chief financial officer of mortgage giant Freddie Mac committed suicide early Wednesday at his home in Vienna, Va., authorities said.

Initial reports said Fairfax County Police were not providing many details about the condition of the body of David Kellerman, except to say it appeared to be an "apparent suicide."

Police spokeswoman Mary Anne Jennings told local newsradio station WTOP, "We were called from inside the house to come investigate an apparent suicide."

Kellerman, 41, was appointed acting financial officer of Freddie Mac in September 2008. He had been with the company more than 16 years.

As CFO, Kellerman was responsible for the company's financial controls, financial reporting and oversight of the company's budget and financial planning, WTOP reported.

McLean-based Freddie Mac has been criticized heavily for reckless business practices that some argue contributed to the housing and financial crisis. Freddic Mac is a government-controlled company that owns or guarantees about 13 million home loans. CEO David Moffett resigned last month.

Freddie Mac and sibling company Fannie Mae, which together own or back more than half of the home mortgages in the country, have been hobbled by skyrocketing loan defaults and have received about $60 billion in combined federal aid.

Kellermann was named acting chief financial officer in September 2008, after the resignation of Anthony "Buddy" Piszel, who stepped down after the September 2008 government takeover. The chief financial officer is responsible for the company's financial controls, financial reporting and oversight of the company's budget and financial planning.

Before taking that job, Kellerman served as senior vice president, corporate controller and principal accounting officer. He was with Freddie Mac for more than 16 years.

Makes one wonder if the picture isn't more bleak than the mainstream news lets on....Kellerman was the top man after the resignation of the CEO last month.

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WASHINGTON -- The top executive of Freddie Mac is quitting after less than six months on the job as the company continues to hemorrhage from mortgage losses and plans to ask the government for up to $35 billion in additional aid.

Freddie Mac said Monday that David Moffett will step down as chief executive and leave the company's board of directors by March 13. Moffett, 57, a former vice chairman of US Bancorp, has been CEO since September, when the government seized control of the mortgage finance company and its sibling, Fannie Mae.

"It's never a positive sign when you see someone leave after six months," said Jim Vogel, a debt analyst with FTN Financial in Memphis, Tenn.

But finding a new executive to lead the troubled company, which has had four top executives in six years, could be a challenge for government regulators.

Together, Fannie and Freddie own or guarantee almost 31 million home loans worth about $5.5 trillion. That's more than half of all U.S home mortgages.

Since the government takeover, "their mission has changed dramatically," said Bert Ely, an Alexandria, Va.-based banking industry consultant and a longtime critic of the two companies. "It's increasingly an arm of the federal government."

It's also unclear what the government ultimately plans to do with the two companies.

AIG is to date the most expensive corporate bailout in American history, requiring $180 billion in government funds. But it may soon have competition. Last week mortgage giant Freddie Mac said it had lost $50 billion in 2008 alone. A look at the company's books suggests the government will have to spend at least triple that much to save the financial firm from collapse. If the housing market worsens, the tab could be even larger.

"Freddie's portfolio of [mortgage] insurance is more risky than the market was led to believe," says Paul Miller, an analyst at FBR Capital Markets. Sister company Fannie Mae lost even more last year, with $58.7 billion of red ink. But Fannie was better capitalized than Freddie going into the credit crunch. So even though Freddie by many measures is smaller than Fannie, the problems at Freddie will probably end up costing more.

Citigroup and other banks have also lost money and will need more capital to survive. But in those cases it's not clear who will take the hit — shareholders, bondholders or the government.

In the cases of AIG, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, however, there is no question where the money will come from. Freddie and Fannie were taken over by the government and put into conservatorship last fall. AIG is currently 80% owned by the government. The losses at those companies are now taxpayer losses.

And like AIG, Freddie has had to go back to the government a number of times with cup in hand. The mortgage giant has already received $14 billion in government aid. After a fourth-quarter loss of $24 billion, the company said it needed an additional $31 billion from the government to keep the lights on.

Freddie's business, which in part comes from a government mandate, is insuring mortgages. So when borrowers lose their jobs, as many now are, Freddie is going to lose money. But only a quarter of Freddie's red ink, or about $13 billion, comes from mortgage-insurance woes. The firm took a larger hit from its investment in mortgage-backed securities tied to subprime, adjustable-rate or jumbo mortgages. By law, Freddie isn't allowed to insure against losses on those types of mortgages, in part because they are riskier. But it bought securities tied to those home loans anyway — which it is allowed to do — to capture the higher rates of return that those mortgage bonds offered. Unfortunately, the bets didn't pay off. Freddie lost $16 billion on those investments.

Freddie lost $1 billion more on bonds tied to short-term loans made to Lehman Brothers. Like Lehman, that investment went belly up. Then there are all the houses it has to repossess as people stop paying their mortgages. The company now owns about 30,000 homes. Maintaining these houses costs about $3,300 a month each, and that comes on top of the loan loss, which is typically about one-third the size of the mortgage. Wave goodbye to another billion.

When will the red ink at Freddie stop? It's hard to say. In its most recent annual report, the company said that if it had to mark all its assets to the price similar bonds are trading for in the market, the company's net worth would sink by an additional $65 billion. But Freddie's bottom-line woes may run even deeper. Freddie has $38 billion in losses it has yet to acknowledge in its investment portfolio. The firm also has $48 billion in nonperforming loans that it either holds or has guaranteed against. In a painful stroke of irony, there is a $15.4 billion line item for deferred taxes on the asset side of Freddie's balance sheet. That means Freddie is still hoping to claim $15 billion in write-offs against future profits. But since Freddie continues to lose money and is now part of the government, the likelihood that it will have to pay taxes anytime soon is probably nil. Add up all those items, and it becomes apparent that the government will probably spend more than $100 billion in additional funds cleaning up the mess at Freddie.,8599,1885583,00.html?xid=rss-topstories

David Kellermann, 41, apparently hanged himself in his suburban Washington home, said a law enforcement official familiar with the investigation. He asked not to be identified because the investigation was ongoing.

Kellermann was promoted last September when the government seized the mortgage company and ousted its top two executives. Neighbors said Kellermann had lost a noticeable amount of weight under the strain of the new job. Some neighbors said they suggested to Kellermann that he should quit to avoid the stress, but Kellermann responded that he wanted to help the company through its problems. The neighbors did not want to be quoted by name because they didn't want to upset the family.

Kellermann oversaw a staff of about 500 at Freddie Mac's McLean, Virginia, headquarters and was working on the company's first-quarter financial report, due by the end of May. Federal regulators closely oversee the company's books and sign off on major decisions.

That relationship has been tense and stressful, with Kellermann working long hours, a colleague said. Freddie Mac executives recently battled with federal regulators over whether to disclose potential losses on mortgage securities tied to the Obama administration's housing plan, said a person familiar with the deliberations who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

April 21 (Bloomberg) -- Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgage delinquencies among the most creditworthy homeowners rose 50 percent in a month as borrowers said drops in income or too much debt caused them to fall behind, according to data from federal regulators.

The number of so-called prime borrowers at least 60 days behind on mortgages owned or guaranteed by the companies rose to 743,686 in January, from 497,131 in December, and is almost double the total for October, the Federal Housing Finance Agency said in a report to Congress today.

Of all borrowers who ended up in default, 34 percent told Fannie and Freddie they were earning less money, about 20 percent cited excessive debt as a reason for missing mortgage payments, and 8.1 percent blamed unemployment, FHFA said.

Fannie and Freddie are the largest U.S. mortgage-finance companies, owning or guaranteeing 56 percent of all U.S. home loans. Regulators seized Fannie and Freddie in September and forced out top management after examiners said the companies’ capital may be inadequate to weather the worst housing market since the Great Depression.

More insight from Mish....