Deutsch and Goldman Lose Bid to Dismiss FHFA Lawsuit for Fraud

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Administrative Process May Provide a Lift to Borrowers

Editor’s Comment: Following on the heals of a similar ruling against JPMorgan Chase, Judge Denise Cote, denied the motion to dismiss the lawsuit of the Federal Housing Finance Agency that overseas Fannie and Freddie.

Simply put the agency is charging the investment banks with intentionally misrepresenting the underwriting standards that were in use during the mortgage meltdown. To put it more simply, the fraud we know that occurred at ground zero (the “closing” table) is being traced up the line to the banks that were pulling the strings and causing the fraud.

The allegations of course are insufficient in and of themselves to use as proof of anything. They are unproven allegations in a civil court suit in Federal Court in Manhattan. BUT there is an interesting argument to be made here that should not be ignored. I did a lot of work in administrative law when I was practicing full-time.

The procedure that any agency follows in filing such a lawsuit is something that should be pointed out when you are making arguments about fraud in the origination or assignments of loans.

In order for an agency to file suit, there must be a “finding” that the facts alleged in the complaint are true. In order for that to happen there must be an investigation and it must be brought before a committee or board for a finding of probable cause.

Normally the finding of probable cause would result in an administrative action brought before a hearing officer that would result in either acquittal of the offending suspect (respondent) or fines, penalties or even revocation of their right to do business with the agency or under the auspices of the agency.

Here the action is brought in civil court which must mean that the findings were strong enough to go beyond probable cause to establish in the findings of the agency that these violations did occur beyond a reasonable doubt. Hence, it could be argued, given the structure and process of administrative actions, that the investment banks have already been found by administrative agencies to be fraudulent.

Then you go to the facts alleged and see what those facts were (see article on JPMorgan denial of dismissal for copy of the complaint). Where there are similarities, you can allege the same thing and apply it to the origination of the loan and the so-called assignments and claims of securitization. AND you can say that there has already been an administrative finding that the fraud occurred, which is persuasive authority at a minimum.

In these cases the investment banks are accused of intentionally lying about the underwriting standards used in origination of the loans — something we have been saying here for  years.

That means it was no mistake that they failed to put the name of the real payee on the note and mortgage and it was no mistake that they failed to reference the REMIC or the pooling and servicing agreement which set the terms of repayment, sometimes in direct contradiction to the terms expressed in the note that they induced the borrower to sign. The information was intentionally withheld from the borrower and promptly used with Fannie and Freddie knowing ti was false, as to verifications of value, income viability etc. (see previous post).

In essence the FHFA is saying the same thing that the investors are saying, which is the same thing that the borrowers are saying — these origination documents are worthless scraps of paper replete with deficiencies, lies and misrepresentations, unsupported by consideration and unenforceable.

The defense of the investment banks is that they HAVE been enforcing the notes and mortgages (Deeds of trust). They are saying that since the courts have let most of the cases go to foreclosure, the documents must be valid and enforceable. If improper underwriting standards had been used, or more properly stated, if underwriting standards were ignored, then the borrower would have had a right to rescission, which the courts have largely rejected. It is circular reasoning but it works, for the most part when it is a single homeowner against a big bank.

But when it is institution against institution its not so easy to pull the wool over the judge’s eyes. AND unlike the borrowers, the FHFA is not plagued with guilt over whether they were stupid to begin with and therefore deserve the punishment of taking the largest loss of their lives.

The answer to that is that the banks were only able to “enforce” as a result of the ignorance of the judges, lawyers and borrowers as to the truth behind the facts of each loan origination, assignment etc.

By Jonathan Stempel, Reuters

A U.S. judge rejected bids by Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N) and Deutsche Bank AG (DBKGn.DE) to dismiss a federal regulator’s lawsuits accusing them of misleading Fannie Mae (FNMA.OB) and Freddie Mac (FMCC.OB) into buying billions of dollars of risky mortgage debt.

In separate decisions on Monday, U.S. District Judge Denise Cote in Manhattan said the Federal Housing Finance Agency may pursue fraud claims over some of the banks’ representations in offering materials regarding mortgage underwriting standards.

The FHFA had sued over certificates that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, known as government-sponsored enterprises, had bought between September 2005 and October 2007.

Goldman underwrote about $11.1 billion of the certificates, and Deutsche Bank roughly $14.2 billion, the regulator has said.

Michael DuVally, a Goldman spokesman, declined to comment, as did Deutsche Bank spokeswoman Renee Calabro. Trials in both cases are scheduled to begin in September 2014.

Last year, the FHFA filed 18 lawsuits against banks and finance companies over mortgage losses suffered by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on roughly $200 billion of securities.

Cote handles 16 of the lawsuits, and previously refused to dismiss its cases against Bank of America Corp’s (BAC.N) Merrill Lynch unit, JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) and UBS AG (UBSN.VX).

In her Deutsche Bank ruling, the judge said that while the offering materials said representations were “preliminary” and “subject to change,” their use suggested that the German bank “fully intended the GSEs to rely on” them.

Meanwhile, Cote rejected what she called Goldman’s “legally dubious” claim not to be liable over prospectus supplements it did not write, saying “it is difficult to square with the fact that the bank’s name is prominently displayed on each.”

She dismissed some claims over representations concerning owner-occupied homes and loan values.

The FHFA became the conservator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac after federal regulators seized the mortgage financiers on September 7, 2008.

In May, Deutsche Bank agreed to pay $202.3 million in a separate federal probe, in which its MortgageIT unit admitted it had lied to the U.S. government over whether its loans were eligible for federal mortgage insurance.

Cote said it is too soon to decide liability over MortgageIT activity that predated its 2007 takeover by Deutsche Bank.

The cases are Federal Housing Finance Agency v. Deutsche Bank AG et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 11-06192; and Federal Housing Finance Agency v. Goldman Sachs & Co et al in the same court, No. 11-06198.

(Reporting By Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by John Wallace, Tim Dobbyn and M.D. Golan)

Recording and Auctions: AZ Maricopa County Recorder Meets with Homeowners

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Phoenix, May 23, 2012: Last night we had the pleasure of meeting with Helen Purcell, Maricopa County Recorder, after having met with Tom Horne, AZ Attorney General and Ken Bennett, the AZ Secretary of State on issues relating to mortgages, robo-signing, notary fraud, etc.  Many thanks again to Darrell Blomberg whose persistence and gentle demeanor produced these people at a meeting downtown. See upcoming events for Darrell on the Events tab above.

The meeting was video recorded and plenty of people were taking notes. Purcell described the administrative process of challenging documents. By submitting a complaint apparently in any form, if you identify the offending document with particularity and state your grounds, again with particularity, the Recorder’s office is duty bound to review it and make a determination as to whether the document should be “corrected” by an instrument prepared by her office that is attached to the document.

If your complaint refers to deficiencies on the face of the document, the recorder’s office ought to take action. One of the problems here is that the office handles electronic recording via contracts who sign a Memorandum of Understanding with her office and become “trusted submitters.” Title companies, law offices, and banks are among the trusted sources. It appears to me that the mere submission of these documents in electronic form gives rise to the presumption that they are valid even if the notarization is plainly wrong and defective.

If the recording office refuses to review the document, a lawsuit in mandamus would apply to force the recorder to do their job. If they refer matters to the County Attorney’s office, the County Attorney should NOT be permitted to claim attorney client privilege to block the right of the person submitting the document or objection from know the basis of the denial. You have 10 years to challenge a document in terms of notary acknowledgement which means that you can go back to May 24, 2002, as of today.

One thing that readers should keep in mind is that invalidating the notarization does not, in itself, invalidate the documents. Arizona is a race-notice state though which means the first one to the courthouse wins the race. So if you successfully invalidate the notarization then that effectively removes the offending document as a recorded document to be considered in the chain of title. Any OTHER document recorded that was based upon the recording of the offending document would therefore NOT be appropriately received and recorded by the recording office.

So a Substitution of Trustee that was both robo-signed and improperly notarized could theoretically be corrected and then recorded. But between the time that the recorder’s correction is filed (indicating that the document did not meet the standards for recording) and the time of the new amended or corrected document, properly signed and notarized is recorded, there could be OTHER instruments recorded that would make things difficult for a would-be foreclosure by a pretender lender.

The interesting “ringer” here is that the person who signed the original document may no longer be able to sign it because they are unavailable, unemployed, or unwilling to again participate in robosigning. And the notary is going to be very careful about the attestation, making sure they are only attesting to the validity of the signature and not to the power of the person signing it.

It seems that there is an unwritten policy (we are trying to get the Manual through Darrell’s efforts) whereby filings from homeowners who can never file electronically, are reviewed for content. If they in any way interfere with the ability of the pretender lender to foreclose they are sent up to the the County Attorney’s office who invariably states that this is a non-consensual lien even if the word lien doesn’t appear on the document. I asked Ms. Purcell how many documents were rejected if they were filed by trusted submitters. I stated that I doubted if even one in the last month could be cited and that the same answer would apply going back years.

So the county recorder’s office is rejecting submissions by homeowners but not rejecting submissions from banks and certain large law firms and title companies (which she said reduced in number from hundreds to a handful).

What the pretenders are worried about of course, is that anything in the title chain that impairs the quality of title conveyed or to be covered by title insurance would be severely compromised by anything that appears in the title record BEFORE they took any action.

If a document upon which they were relying, through lying, is then discounted by the recording office to be NOT regarded as recorded then any correction after the document filed by the homeowner or anyone else might force them into court to get rid of the impediment. That would essentially convert the non-judicial foreclosure to a judicial foreclosure in which the pretenders would need to plead and prove facts that they neither know or have any evidence to support, most witnesses now being long since fired in downsizing.

The other major thing that Ms Purcell stated was that as to MERS, she was against it from the beginning, she thought there was no need for it, and that it would lead to breaks in the chain of title which in her opinion did happen. When asked she said she had no idea how these breaks could be corrected. She did state that she thought that many “mistakes” occurred in the MERS system, implying that such mistakes would not have occurred if the parties had used the normal public recording system for assignments etc.

And of course you know that this piece of video, while it supports the position taken on this blog for the last 5 years, avoids the subject of why the MERS system was created in the first place. We don’t need to speculate on that anymore.

We know that the MERS system was used as a cloak for multiple sales and assignments of the same loan. The party picked as a “designated hitter” was inserted by persons with access to the system through a virtually non-existence security system in which an individual appointed themselves as the authorized signor for MERS or some member of MERS. We know that these people had no authorized written  instructions from any person in MERS nor in the members organization to execute documents and that if they wanted to, they could just as easily designated any member or any person or any business entity to be the “holder” or “investor.”

The purpose of MERS was to put a grand glaze over the fact that the monetary transactions were actually off the grid of the claimed securitization. The single transaction was between the investor lenders whose money was kept in a trust-like account and then sued to fund mortgages with the homeowner borrower. At not time was that money ever in the chain of securitization.

The monetary transaction is both undocumented and unsecured. At no time was any transaction, including the original note and mortgage (or deed of trust) reciting true facts relating to the loan by the payee of the note or the secured party under the mortgage or deed of trust. And at no time was the payee or secured holder under the mortgage or deed of trust ever expecting to receive any money (other than fees for pretending to be the “bank”) nor did they ever receive any money. At no time did MERS or any of its members handle, disburse or otherwise act even as a conduit for the funding of the loan.

Hence the mortgage or deed of trust secured an obligation to the payee on the note who was not expecting to receive any money nor did they receive any money. The immediate substitution of servicer for the originator to receive money shows that in nearly every securitization case. Any checks or money accidentally sent to the originator under the borrower’s mistaken impression that the originator was the lender (because of fraudulent misrepresentations) were immediately turned over to another party.

The actual party who made the loan was a large group of institutional investors (pension funds etc.) whose money had been illegally pooled into a PONZI scheme and covered over by an entirely fake and fraudulent securitization chain. In my opinion putting the burden of proof on the borrower to defend against a case that has not been alleged, but which should be (or dismissed) is unfair and a denial of due process.

In my opinion you stand a much greater chance of attacking the mortgage rather than the obligation, whether or not it is stated on the note. Admitting the liability is not the same as admitting the note represents the deal that the borrower agreed to. Counsel should object immediately, when the pretender lender through counsel states that the note is or contains a representation of the deal reached by the borrower and the lender. Counsel should state that borrower denies the recitations in the note but admits the existence of an obligation to a lender whose identity was and remains concealed by the pretender in the foreclosure action. The matter is and should be put at issue. If the Judge rules against you, after you deny the validity of the note and the enforceability and validity of the note and mortgage, then he or she is committing reversible error even if the borrower would or probably would lose in the end as the Judge would seem to predict.

Trial is the only way to find out. If the pretenders really can prove the money is owed to them, let them prove it. If that money is theirs, let them prove it. If there is nobody else who would receive that money as the real creditor, let the pretender be subject to discovery. And they MUST prove it because the statute ONLY allows the actual creditor to submit a “credit bid” at auction in lieu of cash. Any auction in which both the identity of the creditor and the amount due was not established was and remains in my opinion subject to attack with a motion to strike the deed on foreclosure (probably on many grounds) based upon failure of consideration, and anyone who bids on the property with actual cash, should be considered the winner of the auction.

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