Former FBI Director Louis Freeh has been elected to serve on Fannie Mae’s board of directors, making him the eighth new member of the board since 2004, when accounting and management scandals forced the company to restate earnings and remove top managers.
Freeh, appointed FBI director by President Bill Clinton in 1993, resigned from that position in 2001 and served as general counsel at MBNA Corp. and vice chairman of MBNA America Bank N.A. until 2006. Before serving as FBI director, Freeh was a U.S. District Judge in New York from 1991 to 1993.
Fannie Mae’s 11-member board includes seven others appointed in the last three years. Chairman of the Board Stephen B. Ashley has been a board member since 1995.
Congress created Fannie Mae in 1938 to help make home loans more affordable. Like sister company Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored entities (GSEs) accomplish this by repurchasing mortgages on the secondary market and guaranteeing loans that are securitized and sold on Wall Street.
Originally established as a government agency, in 1968 Fannie was reorganized as a private, shareholder-owned company with a congressional charter to support the housing finance system. The GSEs’ charters stipulate that their governing boards are to consist of 18 members, with the president of the United States appointing five. Those positions are currently vacant.
Under legislation approved by the House of Representatives Tuesday to reform oversight of Fannie and Freddie, the president would no longer have the authority to appoint members to the GSEs’ boards, which would be reduced to 13 members — a change supported by the Bush administration.
Freeh was elected to serve on Fannie Mae’s board by its members.