Fannie Mae senior management promoted an image of the Enterprise as one of the lowest-risk financial institutions in the world and as 'best in class' in terms of risk management, financial reporting, internal control, and corporate governance. The ...
findings in this book show that risks at Fannie Mae were greatly understated and that the image was false. During the period covered by this report - 1998 to mid-2004 - Fannie Mae reported extremely smooth profit growth and hit announced targets for earnings per share precisely each quarter. Those achievements were illusions deliberately and systematically created by the Enterprise's senior management with the aid of inappropriate accounting and improper earnings management. A large number of Fannie Mae's accounting policies and practices did not comply with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). The Enterprise also had serious problems of internal control, financial reporting, and corporate governance. Those errors resulted in Fannie Mae overstating reported income and capital by a currently estimated $10.6 billion. By deliberately and intentionally manipulating accounting to hit earnings targets, senior management maximised the bonuses and other executive compensation they received, at the expense of shareholders. Earnings management made a significant contribution to the compensation of Fannie Mae Chairman and CEO Franklin Raines, which totalled over $90 million from 1998 through 2003. Of that total, over $52 million was directly tied to achieving earnings per share targets. Fannie Mae consistently took a significant amount of interest rate risk and, when interest rates fell in 2002, incurred billions of dollars in economic losses. The Enterprise also had large operational and reputational risk exposures. Fannie Mae's Board of Directors contributed to those problems by failing to be sufficiently informed and to act independently of its chairman, Franklin Raines, and other senior executives; by failing to exercise the requisite oversight over the Enterprise's operations; and, by failing to discover or ensure the correction of a wide variety of unsafe and unsound practices. The Board's failures continued in the wake of revelations of accounting problems and improper earnings management at Freddie Mac and other high profile firms, the initiation of OFHEO's special examination, and credible allegations of improper earnings management made by an employee of the Enterprise's Office of the Controller. Senior management did not make investments in accounting systems, computer systems, other infrastructure, and staffing needed to support a sound internal control system, proper accounting, and GAAP-consistent financial reporting. Those failures came at a time when Fannie Mae faced many operational challenges related to its rapid growth and changing accounting and legal requirements. Fannie Mae senior management sought to interfere with OFHEO's special examination by directing the Enterprise's lobbyists to use their ties to Congressional staff to: generate a Congressional request for the Inspector General of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to investigate OFHEO's conduct of that examination, and insert into an appropriations bill language that would reduce the agency's appropriations until the Director of OFHEO was replaced. OFHEO has directed and will continue to direct Fannie Mae to take remedial actions to enhance the safe and sound operation of the Enterprise going forward. OFHEO staff recommends actions to enhance the goal of maintaining the safety and soundness of Fannie Mae.
Number of pages: 460
Date of publication: 01/11/2008
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