Wells Fargo braces for losses as prosecutors delve into possible mortgage abuses


Bank’s possible litigation losses rise up to $1.7 billion in Q3

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Wells Fargo has said it is working to restore trust with customers.

By  Emily Glazer

The bank disclosed in its most recent quarterly securities filing posted Thursday that it is in discussions with the Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities Working Group of the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. That group, which includes the Justice Department, has levied billions of dollars in fines on other big U.S. banks, including a $16.65 billion payout from Bank of America Corp. BAC, +0.00%   and $13 billion from J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. JPM, -0.44%

The RMBS task force has raised “potential theories of liability” with Wells Fargo WFC, +0.22%   related to certain mortgage practices, according to the bank’s filing. The bank had said in previous filings that it was responding to requests for information from government agencies related to the origination, underwriting and securitization of certain mortgages. The bank has produced documents for the Justice Department, but people familiar with the matter have previously said the process wasn’t progressing.

Wells Fargo didn’t disclose by how much it had increased litigation reserves during the quarter. It did say, though, that its range of possible litigation losses in excess of its “probable and estimable losses” rose to as much as $1.7 billion in the third quarter, up $700 million from the prior period. The bank said this increase was due to “a number of matters.”

The company noted that the Federal and state government agencies, including the United States Department of Justice, continue investigations or examinations of certain mortgage related practices of Wells Fargo and predecessor institutions. Wells Fargo, for itself and for predecessor institutions, has responded, and continues to respond, to requests from these agencies seeking information regarding the origination, underwriting and securitization of residential mortgages, including sub-prime mortgages. This includes discussions with various government agencies that are part of the RMBS Working Group of the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force in which potential theories of liability have been raised.

When establishing a liability for contingent litigation losses, the Company determines a range of potential losses for each matter that is both probable and estimable, and records the amount it considers to be the best estimate within the range. The high end of the range of reasonably possible potential litigation losses in excess of the Company’s liability for probable and estimable losses was approximately $1.7 billion as of September 30, 2016. The change in the high end of the range from June 30, 2016 related to a number of matters, Wells Fargo noted.

A number of big, European banks are also in negotiations with the Justice Department related to how mortgages were bundled and sold.

6 Responses

  1. Lots happening lately as more and more exposure erupts across our country. Sad thing is that our own government is apparently in on this, as most of you probably know already!! I loved the 10th Circuit Court Ruling, that applies directly to me with the five initial loans allegedly originated and funded by Countrywide, but nasty old Bank of America has huge firms like Blank and Rome they sic on you, who are very careful how they word their letters, but firms like Janeway, Medved and others have been exposed here in Colorado and STILL get away with it because the State of Colorado is spineless and more than likely Involved. Lets hope we can continue to get more and more people involved and some good “whistle blowers”, attorneys, title companies and others to get on the bandwagon. Semper Fi

  2. @Sheri Daniel


  3. Does anyone have contact info for this Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force?

  4. Well I finally did it on Monday. I filed my case in Federal court…RICO against Wells Fargo and the state judges…..again did the best I could…we’ll see what they have to say. For anyone interested it’s Eastern District of Virginia Alexandria 1:16 CV 1360 CMH/JFA it’s about fraudulent loan modifications (non-HAMP)

  5. This is a sign of hope. But I won’t hold my breath. I actually used the 10th circuit court ruling on George vs BofA in my foreclosure defense of unfair and deceptive businesses practices against Wells Fargo. I know it’s a stretch for you legal folks but I’m
    Pro se and I asked the court to take judicial notice of that ruling on deceptive fraud in loan modifications. I noted that the court found sufficient evidence to support claims of racketeering. Those claims included denying HAMPodifications and pushing borrowers into high interest in-house loans. The trial judge here in Illinois has been hearing these clas in my case since 2012. We’ll see what he decides about Wells Fargo foreclosure Fraud on Nov. 15. It’s kinda nice my case has dragged on for four years. It gives the court an opportunity to see the fraud unfold and the fake bank accounts is just small potatoes on this EPIC FAILIRE of banks and their grand racketeering scam. It has become the new way of generating profits and it will continue until the banks are shut down by prosecutors.

  6. Do you think Wells Fargo’s mortgage business and practice execution of their GSE Business Model is any different than Bank of America?

    If so, I have a bridge for you in Brooklyn.

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