(Expanded and updated) Gary Hindes is tenacious: The onetime investigative reporter, Delaware Democratic Party chair, early political intimate of future Vice President Joe Biden and manager of the Fallen Angels junk-bond fund, Hindes was a leader of the Philadelphia Savings Fund Society (Meritor) securities owners and speculators who challenged the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. over its seizure of that troubled bank in 1993, emerging 20 years later with an appeals court decision upholding an award for $276 million, or $4.50 a share more than zero.
Now Hindes is among the investors suing the Federal Housing Finance Agency and the U.S. Treasury, alleging the government has high-handedly stripped Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac of at least $150 billion in profits that should have gone to pay back taxpayers for the agencies' $187 billion bailout, freeing future profits for investors like themselves, who expressed confidence in Fannie and Freddie by purchasing their securities at low prices, back when the home-loan finance agencies were staggering under losses from unpaid home mortgage loans. (Corrected and updated). The U.S. District Court for Delaware complaint, by Hindes and fellow investor David Jacobs, is posted on that court's Web site (documents behind a paywall), it's 1:15-cv-00708-GMS
Hindes and Jacobs say Fannie and Freddie weren't as badly undercapitalized as the government claimed, as proven by their rapid recovery from the recession; and that the government has run roughshod over the property rights of investors, illegally diverting Fannie and Freddie profits, which should have remained with the companies. In the federal suit, they are represented by Myron T. Steele, which in shareholder-dispute law is going to the top: Steele was Chief Justice of Delaware, the nation's pre-eminent jurisdiction for ownership and securities disputes, from 2004-13.
"The government has filed a motion to dismiss," which Hindes and company are of course fighting; final briefings are due in January, Steele tells me. The suit alleges illegal takings by the government, in violation of Delaware corporate law (Fannie Mae is a Delaware-registered company) and Virginia law (Freddie Mac's legal jurisdiction). There are no plans to consolidate the case with other attempts to claw back Fannie and Freddie funds.
Separately, Hindes' Delaware Bay Co. is plaintiff in a long-running Pennsylvania case alleging yet more government mismanagment of a troubled financial company: the seven-year rehabilitation of Penn Treaty Network America Insurance Co. (1 ANI 2009, in that state's Commonwealth Court.)
Hindes and his fellow investors have asked Pa. Gov. Tom Wolf, Commonwealth Court Judge Hannah Leavitt and DLA Piper LLP partner Carl Buchholz, representing Penn Treaty in rehabilitation, to let Penn Treaty raise rates, exit state custody, and return millions to its investors. It's a complicated case in which other insurers and Penn Treaty's managers have separate, often conflicting interests. (Updated)
Penn Treaty was one of the original "life-care" insurers that sold longterm-care coverage to aging Americans. Insurers priced these policies as if only a few subscribers would end up using them for acute nursing care in the last months of their lives -- but then faced massive claims in the early 2000s as more and more people with Alzheimer's and other longterm conditions were accepted into new residential facilities offering modest levels of nursing care, which states found were covered by these policies, too.
Hindes argues that state regulators have allowed most insurers in the sector to raise their rates to cover the higher cost of nursing home care; but Pennsylvania has resisted boosting Penn Treaty premiums beyond what the company promised its customers years ago, and instead is running the company at an artificial deficit, hurting investors.