An effort by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. to sell the failed IndyMac Bank raises a tricky question: How much does IndyMac owe to the government-backed mortgage company Fannie Mae?

People familiar with the situation say that Fannie believes IndyMac has obligations to repurchase around $1 billion of home mortgages that failed to meet Fannie's standards. Banks that sell loans to Fannie or its smaller rival, Freddie Mac, must make "representations and warranties" that those loans meet certain quality standards. If not, the lenders can be forced to buy the loans back.

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