Deloitte and Touche Pays $149.5 Million Settling Claims of Audit Failure of Taylor Bean and Whittaker

One of the first cases I ever handled involved TBW in 2008. As usual they filed a lost note count in their foreclosure complaint. And as is required, they offered to indemnify the homeowner if someone else showed up with the original note. With financial firms dropping left and right, my position was two fold: (1) that an indemnification from a firm that was clearly in trouble as reported in the news was of dubious value and (2) that even if that wasn’t the case neither their complaint  nor their affidavit recited any facts about when the loss occurred, who was in possession of the note, whether the possessor had rights to enforce when the note was “lost” etc. TBW folded, went into bankruptcy shortly thereafter and its principals went to prison.

But throwing TBW under the bus, as much as they deserved it, takes nothing away from the fact that everyone was doing what they did. The only difference was they got caught and could not effectively indemnify the homeowner in the event they were lying about the possession of the original note — something that as proven beyond a reasonable doubt in the criminal trial of the execs..

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Hat tip to Dan Edstrom

see  Multiple Sales of Same Loans Force Auditor to Cough Up $149.5 Million

PR shows like this one became one of the ways that the banks were able to throw a curtain over the real customs and practices of the industry — most of which were virtually identical to TBW. The impression from the collapse and prosecution of TBW and its executives implies that this was an unusual event — selling the same “loan” multiple times.

But close examination of the many claims of securitization of debt shows that exactly the same thing was happening in the rest of the industry. In fact, that is where the enormous “profits” came from as reported from their “trading desks.” The only difference is that TBW was blatant about it by using copies of notes that were repeatedly sold, not once, but multiple times.

The leverage of making multiple sales went to ridiculous heights — 42 times in the case of Bear Stearns mortgage related activities. Yes you read that right. That $200,000 loan produced around $8 million in “profit.” Of course none of this was disclosed to the borrower whose name and financial reputation would be used directly or indirectly to accomplish these “sales.” They did it by hiding behind “derivative” documents rather than the actual loan documents, but they also did what TBW did. But while TBW was exclusively faking sales, investment banks mixed up the process such that, if caught, they would be able to say that some of these things happened because of a failure of controls and that they will now correct it.

As the MBS marketplace slowed down and had some hiccups many of the contracts or derivatives came due and Bear Stearns simply didn’t have the money to honor them despite the enormous “profits” earned earlier. This also is a possible indicator that leverage was even higher than what has been reported. As the buying frenzy slowed down and investors suddenly became aware that they were holding certificates issued by entities that didn’t exist and were never active, the buying stopped — and like any Ponzi scheme, the entire infrastructure came crashing down.

Practice Note: So what all of this means is that questions should be posed to parties who file foreclosure actions. But you need to wade through the multiple servicers and multiple “assignees” and multiple “endorsees” and multiple “Underwriters of bogus RMBS to ask the simple question: how many contracts or securities have been issued with the respect to the subject loan? It’s relevant because it is asking whether the foreclosing party has sold its rights to an undisclosed third party. In 99% of all cases, the “REMIC Trust” was never used and the underwriter has already entered into various contracts, sales, and issued “derivatives” in which the PAPER was sold but the underlying debt, if it still exists, was never subject to any transfer, contract or derivative.

3 Responses

  1. involuntary conversions

    The federal tax code uses the term “involuntary conversion” to refer to cases in which you receive compensation for the destruction, theft or confiscation of property. If you end up with a new property to replace the old one, you usually won’t have any immediate tax implications. But if you just take the money and walk away, an involuntary conversion may be taxed like a regular sale, or a voluntary conversion

  2. IRS friend…late n the game to learn this but…IRS foreclosures friend !

  3. One of the first cases I ever handled involved TBW in 2008.

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