All posts by Julie Vorman

Troubled Freddie Mac exec was “straight arrow”

James Lockhart, head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency
James Lockhart, head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency

The chief financial officer at Freddie Mac who died in an apparent suicide was a capable executive who had no involvement in any improper accounting, according to Freddie Mac’s federal regulator.

“David (Kellermann) was a very conscientious and hard-working person and took, unfortunately, too much onto himself,” James Lockhart, the director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, told the Reuters Global Financial Regulation Summit in Washington.

Kellermann was found dead on April 22 in the basement of his Virginia home after having hung himself, local police sources said. Some news reports at the time tied Kellermann’s death to ongoing federal investigations into Freddie Mac’s accounting.

“You know, one of the things I find unfortunate? Some of the speculation about accounting issues at Freddie. They are very rigorous,” Lockhart said. He described Kellermann as a “straight arrow” whose reputation was above reproach and said that the failings at Freddie Mac were widely shared.

Last September, federal regulators took over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as the the companies losses on the housing market mounted.

“Yes, we’re seeing significant losses but from my standpoint and my chief accountant’s standpoint, from the two auditing firms that were auditing them, from a loss reserving standpoint, they were following” proper accounting standards, Lockhart said.

Credit card stories? She’s heard ’em all

Democratic lawmaker Carolyn Maloney
Democratic lawmaker Carolyn Maloney
Listen to Rep. Carolyn Maloney tell how she became interested in credit card reform legislation

Tired of your mailbox being jammed with unsolicited credit card offers boasting too-good-to-be-true introductory rates and confusing terms in tiny print?

So is Carolyn Maloney. But as the chairman of Congress’ Joint Economic Committee, Maloney can actually do something about it.

The New York Democrat is the chief sponsor of legislation she is calling the “Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights.” It would stop credit card issuers — many of which have received generous taxpayer bailouts — from imposing surprise interest rate hikes and hidden fees.

Speaking at the Reuters Global Financial Regulation Summit, Maloney said she expects the legislation to pass both the House and Senate, and to be signed into law by the end of May. That won’t be a minute too soon for her.

“It’s hard for me to go anywhere without (hearing) a credit card story,” Maloney told the summit.

Constituents in her New York district stop her at the grocery store to complain about credit card issuers, she said. So do colleagues on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.

“They even tricked me by changing the due date,” Maloney said, referring to one of the credit cards she uses. “All of a sudden I had a late fee because I had paid within the period I usually paid — they changed it, they changed the terms.”