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Monday, 5 September 2011

SFO probes banks over asset-backed security sales

 

The Serious Fraud Office is conducting an examination into banks and their offering of asset backed securities, as part of a ‘scoping exercise’ to see if products have been misrepresented to UK clients. The watchdog said it is consulting with relevant ‘people in the city’ as part of its broad-sweeping investigation into any potentially fraudulent sales of asset backed securities. A spokesperson for the SFO said: ‘We are conducting a scoping exercise into UK banks about all asset backed securities.’ Although the watchdog said this examination has been going on for ‘some time’, it would not clarify whether it was targeting any particular types of asset backed securities. After 2008, asset backed products such as collateralised debt obligations and mortgage backed securities came under fire for arguably sparking the financial crisis. As part of the exercise, the SFO is making inquiries into Goldman Sachs, including the ‘Timberwolf’ deal, a mortgage security underwritten by the bank in 2007, which has been scrutinised by lawyers in the US, according to the Financial Times. Earlier in the year, the SFO said it was looking into exchange-traded funds, as a 'potential threat' to market stability and as a form of asset-backed security which could follow the path of CDOs.

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