Moving to "restore integrity" to sales of its long-term securities, the Federal National Mortgage Association placed all 53 firms that sell its debt on probation for one year.
The congressionally chartered mortgage agency, known as Fannie Mae, said Monday it found the entire debenture-selling group guilty of improprieties that included exaggerating customer demand, misstating actual purchases, or buying Fannie Mae debentures for their own accounts without permission.
In a letter to the 53 selling agents, Fannie Mae chairman James A. Johnson termed the violations of current procedures "unacceptable" and imposed new conditions for remaining in the group.
About half the members of the selling group, which issued $26 billion of long-term debt this year through November are banks or affiliates of bank holding companies. (Group members are listed on page 12.)
Buyers Must Be Notified
Mr. Johnson said that to avoid being banned from Fannie Mae sales, the banks and securities firms must notify all buyers of Fannie Mae debt between September 1988 and September 1991 of the one-year probation. Also, the firms must accept a new seller agreement that requires them to:
* Maintain records for three years after each sale.
* Give Fannie Mae auditors access to detailed information about customers.
* Notify Fannie Mae of any government inquiry related to the sale of the securities.
* Provide training for traders.
Probe Began in September
The new agreement also deletes the prohibition against buying debentures as principal. This means selling-group members may buy securities for their own account if they comply with the rules.
The actions followed a Fannie Mae probe into debenture-selling practices. It began in September after Warren Buffett was installed as chairman of Salomon Brothers and admitted to Congress that the firm inflated orders and filed false reports as a dealer of Fannie Mae debt.
A spokesman for one of the 53 firms on Fannie's list said the probation would have little impact on relationships with customers, who realize the abuses have been universal.
"It doesn't come as news," this spokesman said, on condition that the firm not be identified. "Since everybody is treated alike, there is no competitive advantage
SEC Also on the Prowl
Separately, the Securities and Exchange Commission is reportedly trying secure fines and agreements to improve practices from a group of about 150 securities firms and banks that sell debt for various government-sponsored agencies.
The Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. has assessed fines on some of the firms that sell its debt.
Fannie Mae said it found no evidence that the abuses caused "economic harm." It added, however, that it would "pursue its rights to be compensated for any losses" that turn up.
Violation of the new rules could be grounds for fines, probation, or expulsion.