FHFA's Watt will testify at hearing as harassment probe looms

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WASHINGTON — Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mel Watt and Fannie Mae CEO Timothy Mayopoulos will both testify next week at a House Financial Services Committee hearing to look into the FHFA’s role as conservator of the government-sponsored enterprises, a committee spokesperson said Friday.

Watt’s appearance before the committee had been a question mark as he has been dogged by sexual harassment allegations that prompted an equal employment opportunity investigation. Rumors had spread through the capital last week that Watt would not come to the hearing.

The hearing will take place on Sept. 27 at 10:30 a.m. The committee announced last month that it would hold a hearing on “various allegations of waste, fraud and abuse” at the agency as well as at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

FHFA Director Mel Watt’s appearance before the committee had been a question mark as he has been dogged by sexual harassment allegations that prompted an equal employment opportunity investigation. Bloomberg News

It is still unclear what exactly the hearing will examine, and whether it will focus on the sexual harassment allegations against Watt, if there is appropriate oversight at the FHFA or whether the GSEs have exceeded the scope of their charters.

As first reported by Politico in July, Watt is under investigation as a result of an equal employment opportunity complaint filed by an FHFA employee, Simone Grimes. She taped recordings of alleged encounters with Watt.

On Aug. 2, Politico reported that the FHFA’s inspector general, Laura Wertheimer, was under investigation for allegedly taking steps to limit her office’s oversight of the agency in response to pressure from Watt.

A source told American Banker last week that committee staff members had a difficult time nailing down a date for Watt to testify. But a spokesperson for the FHFA denied rumors that Watt would sidestep the hearing and said that “he plans to testify.”


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