WASHINGTON Americas Community Bankers last week formally requested that the Department of Housing and Urban Development investigate an arrangement between Freddie Mac and an Internet-based loan origination service.
In a letter dated April 3, the trade associations chairman, David A. Bochnowski, said that Freddie, which is chartered by the government to provide liquidity to the secondary mortgage market, had exceeded its charter by extending credit to LendingTree Inc.
It appears that Freddie Mac has assumed the role of a commercial bank, he wrote in a letter sent to HUD Secretary Mel R. Martinez. Through its financial link to a primary market participant, Freddie Mac has moved even closer to participation in the primary market, which we believe is clearly a violation of its charter authority and stated corporate mission and intent.
A Freddie spokesman disagreed Friday, saying that the deal is in keeping with our secondary mortgage market mission and will create technological and other efficiencies to improve that market. However, he added that the company would cooperate with any review by regulators.
Freddie Mac in mid-March provided $2.5 million of a $45 million financing package for LendingTree. FM Watch a lobbying group of lenders, insurance companies, and others dedicated to fighting Freddie and Fannie Maes expansion into new businesses raised similar concerns about the deal soon after it was announced.
The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight has said it would investigate the transaction, but a HUD spokeswoman said Friday that she was unable to comment on the trade groups letter.