Mortgage-backed securities

SEC logoReturning to an enforcement priority repeatedly articulated over the years (for example, here,  here and here), the SEC recently imposed sanctions on a registered investment advisory firm and two principals arising out of an alleged scheme to inflate the valuations of illiquid mortgage-backed securities held by private investment funds managed by the adviser. The SEC charged that the overvaluations improperly increased the management and performance fees collected by the adviser.

In AlphaBridge Capital Management, LLC, the Order reflecting the parties’ agreement to an aggregate penalty of $5 million, alleged that the firm systematically overstated the value of securities known as interest-only and inverse interest-only floaters. These unlisted, thinly-traded securities are tranches of collateralized mortgage obligations which receive a coupon payment that fluctuates as interest rates change. In the absence of a robust market, these securities are typically valued based on discounted cash flows. The computation of future cash flows and the resulting valuations are heavily dependent on a projection of the percentage of the underlying mortgages that are expected to be prepaid at any given time.