The Federal Housing Finance Agency said it has issued 64 subpoenas to "various entities" as part of an inquiry into private-label securities purchased by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac with an eye toward the government recouping losses on nonprime assets.

Together, the two GSEs own at least $260 billion in PLS, but a spokeswoman for FHFA cautioned that the subpoenas "are not for all PLS."

The regulator also declined to say which companies received the subpoenas and would not address the issue of whether any individuals were subpoenaed.

In a statement, FHFA notes that "before and during" their conservatorships Fannie and Freddie "sought to assess and enforce their rights as investors" in private-label MBS. In other words, the two have lost billions of dollars because of delinquent subprime loans and want to address if they have the right to sue for damages.

The subpoenas were issued as a way for Fannie and Freddie to obtain loan files and transaction documents tied to their purchase of PLS (ABS) from Wall Street firms.

Critics of the GSEs have often argued that they added liquidity to the subprime ABS market during the boom years by being a major buyer of subprime bonds issued by Wall Street.

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