General Motors' auto-finance arm has received a Department of Justice subpoena related to the underwriting criteria it used on securitized subprime auto loans, the company said Monday.

GM Financial received the subpoena on July 28, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

The subpoena directs GM Financial to turn over certain documents related to subprime auto loans that the firm, its subsidiaries and its affiliates originated and securitized dating back to 2007, according to the company's disclosure.

"Among other matters, the subpoena requests information relating to the underwriting criteria used to originate these automobile loan contracts and the representations and warranties relating to those underwriting criteria that were made in connection with the securitization of the automobile loan contracts," the document states.

The Justice Department is investigating potential civil violations of the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act, according to GM Financial's disclosure.

That 1989 law, known as Firrea, has frequently been used by prosecutors in probes related to the financial crisis, notably in the mortgage sphere.

In July the Justice Department reached a $7 billion settlement with Citigroup related to representations it made about mortgages that it packaged together in residential mortgage-backed securities. That settlement, along with an earlier mortgage-related deal with JPMorgan Chase, involved alleged violations of Firrea.

GM Financial said in an email that the subpoena does not make any allegations and that it is cooperating with the Justice Department's request.

"Our understanding is that the request is focused on the subprime auto finance space in general," the company's statement also said.

If the Justice Department is looking broadly at the securitization of subprime auto loans, that would appear to represent a widening of prosecutors' investigations of crisis-era activities. Auto loan securities have gotten relatively little scrutiny from prosecutors, perhaps because they performed much better during the crisis than mortgages did.

The Justice Department's press office did not respond to a request for comment.


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