WASHINGTON (AP) - Two former CEOs at mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on Friday became the highest-profile individuals to be charged in connection with the 2008 financial crisis.
In a lawsuit filed in New York, the Securities and Exchange Commission brought civil fraud charges against six former executives at the two firms, including former Fannie CEO Daniel Mudd and former Freddie CEO Richard Syron.
The executives were accused of understating the level of high-risk subprime mortgages that Fannie and Freddie held just before the housing bubble burst.
"Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac executives told the world that their subprime exposure was substantially smaller than it really was," said Robert Khuzami, SEC's enforcement director.
Khuzami noted that huge losses on their subprime loans eventually pushed the two companies to the brink of failure and forced the government to take them over.
The charges brought Friday follow widespread criticism of federal authorities for not holding top executives accountable for the recklessness that triggered the 2008 crisis.