Juggled Books at Freddie, Fannie Sparked Fed Takeover

Situation more dire than accounting revealed, probers found
By Jess Kilby,  Newser User
Posted Sep 7, 2008 6:17 AM CDT
Mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will go into government receivership this week, a move intended to restore investor confidence in the failing companies.    (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, file)
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(Newser) – Federal advisers pushed for a government takeover of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae after discovering fuzzy accounting that failed to fully reveal the dire nature of the companies' financial situation, reports the New York Times. The practices, while not illegal, overstated the mortgage giants' capital cushions while attempting to delay the announcement of a capital shortfall until next year. Details of the takeover, which will place both companies in a government-run conservatorship, are expected to be announced today.

Accountants at Freddie Mac, where the questionable practices were more widespread, defied common accounting rules by not devaluing their riskiest loans to reflect current market value, according to investigators. The company also padded its worth with questionable tax credits, and extended the time before loans are reported as overdue. Both presidential candidates have announced their support for the takeover.