AP Fannie, Freddie and BOA set to Reduce Principal and Payments

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Editor’s Comment:

Partly as a result of the recent settlement with the Attorneys General and partly because they have run out of options and excuses, the banks are reducing principal and offering to reduce payments as well. What happened to the argument that we can’t reduce principal because it would be unfair to homeowners who are not in distress? Flush. It was never true. These loans were based on fake appraisals at the outset, the liens were never perfected and the banks are staring down a double barreled shotgun: demands for repurchase from investors who correctly allege and can easily prove that the loans were underwritten to fail PLUS the coming rash of decisions showing that the mortgage lien never attached to the land. The banks have nothing left. BY offering principal reductions they get new paperwork that allows them to correct the defects in documentation and they retain the claim of plausible deniability regarding origination documents that were false, predatory, deceptive and fraudulent. 

Fannie, Freddie are set to reduce mortgage balances in California

The mortgage giants sign on to Keep Your Home California, a $2-billion foreclosure prevention program, after state drops a requirement that lenders match taxpayer funds used for principal reductions.

By Alejandro Lazo

As California pushes to get more homeowners into a $2-billion foreclosure prevention program, some Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac borrowers may see their mortgages shrunk through principal reduction.

State officials are making a significant change to the Keep Your Home California program. They are dropping a requirement that banks match taxpayers funds when homeowners receive mortgage reductions through the program.

The initiative, which uses federal funds from the 2008 Wall Street bailout to help borrowers at risk of foreclosure, has faced lackluster participation and lender resistance since it was rolled out last year. By eliminating the requirement that banks provide matching funds, state officials hope to make it easier for homeowners to get principal reductions.

The participation by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, confirmed Monday, could provide a major boost to Keep Your Home California.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac own about 62% of outstanding mortgages in the Golden State, according to the state attorney general’s office. But since the program was unveiled last year, neither has elected to participate in principal reduction because of concerns about additional costs to taxpayers.

Only a small number of California homeowners — 8,500 to 9,000 — would be able to get mortgage write-downs with the current level of funds available. But given the previous opposition to these types of modifications by the two mortgage giants, housing advocates who want to make principal reduction more widespread hailed their involvement.

“Having Fannie and Freddie participate in the state Keep Your Home principal reduction program would be a really important step forward,” said Paul Leonard, California director of the Center for Responsible Lending. “Fannie and Freddie are at some level the market leaders; they represent a large share of all existing mortgages.”

The two mortgage giants were seized by the federal government in 2008 as they bordered on bankruptcy, and taxpayers have provided $188 billion to keep them afloat.

Edward J. DeMarco, head of the federal agency that oversees Fannie and Freddie, has argued that principal reduction would not be in the best interest of taxpayers and that other types of loan modifications are more effective.

But pressure has mounted on DeMarco to alter his position. In a recent letter to DeMarco, congressional Democrats cited Fannie Mae documents that they say showed a 2009 pilot program by Fannie would have cost only $1.7 million to implement but could have provided more than $410 million worth of benefits. They decried the scuttling of that program as ideological in nature.

Fannie and Freddie last year made it their policy to participate in state-run principal reduction programs such as Keep Your Home California as long as they or the mortgage companies that work for them don’t have to contribute funds.

Banks and other financial institutions have been reluctant to participate in widespread principal reductions. Lenders argue that such reductions aren’t worth the cost and would create a “moral hazard” by rewarding delinquent borrowers.

As part of a historic $25-billion mortgage settlement reached this year, the nation’s five largest banks agreed to reduce the principal on some of the loans they own.

Since then Fannie and Freddie have been a major focus of housing advocates who argue that shrinking the mortgages of underwater borrowers would boost the housing market by giving homeowners a clear incentive to keep paying off their loans. They also say that principal reduction would reduce foreclosures by lowering the monthly payments for underwater homeowners and giving them hope they would one day have more equity in their homes.

“In places that are deeply underwater, ultimately those loans where you are not reducing principal, they are going to fail anyway,” said Richard Green of USC’s Lusk Center for Real Estate. “So you are putting off the day of reckoning.”

The state will allocate the federal money, resulting in help for fewer California borrowers than the 25,135 that was originally proposed. The $2-billion program is run by the California Housing Finance Agency, with $790 million available for principal reductions.

Financial institutions will be required to make other modifications to loans such as reducing the interest rate or changing the terms of the loans.

The changes to the program will roll out in early June, officials with the California agency said. The agency will increase to $100,000 from $50,000 the amount of aid borrowers can receive.

Spokespeople for the nation’s three largest banks — Wells Fargo & Co., Bank of America Corp. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. — said they were evaluating the changes. BofA has been the only major servicer participating in the principal reduction component of the program.

Like I said, the loans never made into the “pools”

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Editor’s Comment:

When I first suggested that securitization itself was a lie, my comments were greeted with disbelief and derision. No matter. When I see something I call it the way it is. The loans never left the launch pad, much less flew into a waiting pool of investor money. The whole thing was a scam and AG Biden of Đelaware and Schniedermann of New York are on to it.

The tip of the iceberg is that the note was not delivered to the investors. The gravitas of the situation is that the investors were never intended to get the note, the mortgage or any documentation except a check and a distribution report. The game was on.

First they (the investment banks) took money from the investors on the false pretenses that the bonds were real when anyone with 6 months experience on Wall street could tell you this was not a bond for lots of reasons, the most basic of which was that there was no borrower. The prospectus had no loans because there were no loans made yet. The banks certainly wouldn’ t take the risks posed by this toxic heap of loans, so they were waiting for the investors to get conned. Once they had the money then they figured out how to keep as much of it as possible before even looking for residential home borrowers. 

None of the requirements of the Internal Revenue Code on REMICS were followed, nor were the requirements of the pooling and servicing agreement. The facts are simple: the document trail as written never followed the actual trail of actual transactions in which money exchanged hands. And this was simply because the loan money came from the investors apart from the document trail. The actual transaction between homeowner borrower and investor lender was UNDOCUMENTED. And the actual trail of documents used in foreclosures all contain declarations of fact concerning transactions that never happened. 

The note is “evidence” of the debt, not the debt itself. If the investor lender loaned money to the homeowner borrower and neither one of them signed a single document acknowledging that transaction, there is still an obligation. The money from the investor lender is still a loan and even without documentation it is a loan that must be repaid. That bit of legal conclusion comes from common law. 

So if the note itself refers to a transaction in which ABC Lending loaned the money to the homeowner borrower it is referring to a transaction that does not now nor did it ever exist. That note is evidence of an obligation that does not exist. That note refers to a transaction that never happened. ABC Lending never loaned the homeowner borrower any money. And the terms of repayment intended by the securitization documents were never revealed to the homeowner buyer. Therefore the note with ABC Lending is evidence of a non-existent transaction that mistates the terms of repayment by leaving out the terms by which the investor lender would be repaid.

Thus the note is evidence of nothing and the mortgage securing the terms of the note is equally invalid. So the investors are suing the banks for leaving the lenders in the position of having an unsecured debt wherein even if they had collateral it would be declining in value like a stone dropping to the earth.

And as for why banks who knew better did it this way — follow the money. First they took an undisclosed yield spread premium out of the investor lender money. They squirreled most of that money through Bermuda which ” asserted” jurisdiction of the transaction for tax purposes and then waived the taxes. Then the bankers created false entities and “pools” that had nothing in them. Then the bankers took what was left of the investor lender money and funded loans upon request without any underwriting.

Then the bankers claimed they were losing money on defaults when the loss was that of the investor lenders. To add insult to injury the bankers had used some of the investor lender money to buy insurance, credit default swaps and create other credit enhancements where they — not the investor lender —- were the beneficiary of a payoff based on the default of mortgages or an “event” in which the nonexistent pool had to be marked down in value. When did that markdown occur? Only when the wholly owned wholly controlled subsidiary of the investment banker said so, speaking as the ” master servicer.”

So the truth is that the insurers and counterparties on CDS paid the bankers instead of the investor lenders. The same thing happened with the taxpayer bailout. The claims of bank losses were fake. Everyone lost money except, of course, the bankers.

So who owns the loan? The investor lenders. Who owns the note? Who cares, it was worth less when they started; but if anyone owns it it is most probably the originating “lender” ABC Lending. Who owns the mortgage? There is no mortgage. The mortgage agreement was written and executed by the borrower securing terms of payment that were neither disclosed nor real.

Bank Loan Bundling Investigated by Biden-Schneiderman: Mortgages

By David McLaughlin

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Delaware’s Beau Biden are investigating banks for failing to package mortgages into bonds as advertised to investors, three months after a group of lenders struck a nationwide $25 billion settlement over foreclosure practices.

The states are pursuing allegations that some home loans weren’t correctly transferred into securitizations, undermining investors’ stakes in the mortgages, according to two people with knowledge of the probes. They’re also concerned about improper foreclosures on homeowners as result, said the people, who declined to be identified because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly. The probes prolong the fallout from the six-year housing bust that’s cost Bank of America Corp., JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) and other lenders more than $72 billion because of poor underwriting and shoddy foreclosures. It may also give ammunition to bondholders suing banks, said Isaac Gradman, an attorney and managing member of IMG Enterprises LLC, a mortgage-backed securities consulting firm.

“The attorneys general could create a lot of problems for the banks and for the trustees and for bondholders,” Gradman said. “I can’t imagine a better securities law claim than to say that you represented that these were mortgage-backed securities when in fact they were backed by nothing.”

Countrywide Faulted

Schneiderman said Bank of America Corp. (BAC)’s Countrywide Financial unit last year made errors in the way it packaged home loans into bonds, while investors have sued trustee banks, saying documentation lapses during mortgage securitizations can impair their ability to recover losses when homeowners default. Schneiderman didn’t sue Bank of America in connection with that criticism.

The Justice Department in January said it formed a group of federal officials and state attorneys general to investigate misconduct in the bundling of mortgage loans into securities. Schneiderman is co-chairman with officials from the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The next month, five mortgage servicers — Bank of America Corp., Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC), Citigroup Inc. (C), JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Ally Financial Inc. (ALLY) — reached a $25 billion settlement with federal officials and 49 states. The deal pays for mortgage relief for homeowners while settling claims against the servicers over foreclosure abuses. It didn’t resolve all claims, leaving the lenders exposed to further investigations into their mortgage operations by state and federal officials.

Top Issuers

The New York and Delaware probes involve banks that assembled the securities and firms that act as trustees on behalf of investors in the debt, said one of the people and a third person familiar with the matter.

The top issuers of mortgage securities without government backing in 2005 included Bank of America’s Countrywide Financial unit, GMAC, Bear Stearns Cos. and Washington Mutual, according to trade publication Inside MBS & ABS. Total volume for the top 10 issuers was $672 billion. JPMorgan acquired Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual in 2008.

The sale of mortgages into the trusts that pool loans may be void if banks didn’t follow strict requirements for such transfers, Biden said in a lawsuit filed last year over a national mortgage database used by banks. The requirements for transferring documents were “frequently not complied with” and likely led to the failure to properly transfer loans “on a large scale,” Biden said in the complaint.

“Most of this was done under the cover of darkness and anything that shines a light on these practices is going to be good for investors,” Talcott Franklin, an attorney whose firm represents mortgage-bond investors, said about the state probes.

Critical to Investors

Proper document transfers are critical to investors because if there are defects, the trusts, which act on behalf of investors, can’t foreclose on borrowers when they default, leading to losses, said Beth Kaswan, an attorney whose firm, Scott + Scott LLP, represents pension funds that have sued Bank of New York Mellon Corp. (BK) and US Bancorp as bond trustees. The banks are accused of failing in their job to review loan files for missing and incomplete documents and ensure any problems were corrected, according to court filings.

“You have very significant losses in the trusts and very high delinquencies and foreclosures, and when you attempt to foreclose you can’t collect,” Kaswan said.

Laurence Platt, an attorney at K&L Gates LLP in Washington, disagreed that widespread problems exist with document transfers in securitization transactions that have impaired investors’ interests in mortgages.

“There may be loan-level issues but there aren’t massive pattern and practice problems,” he said. “And even when there are potential loan-level issues, you have to look at state law because not all states require the same documents.”

Fixing Defects

Missing documents don’t have to prevent trusts from foreclosing on homes because the paperwork may not be necessary, according to Platt. Defects in the required documents can be fixed in some circumstances, he said. For example, a missing promissory note, in which a borrower commits to repay a loan, may not derail the process because there are laws governing lost notes that allow a lender to proceed with a foreclosure, he said.

A review by federal bank regulators last year found that mortgage servicers “generally had sufficient documentation” to demonstrate authority to foreclose on homes.

Schneiderman said in court papers last year that Countrywide failed to transfer complete loan documentation to trusts. BNY Mellon, the trustee for bondholders, misled investors to believe Countrywide had delivered complete files, the attorney general said.

Hindered Foreclosures

Errors in the transfer of documents “hampered” the ability of the trusts to foreclose and impaired the value of the securities backed by the loans, Schneiderman said.

“The failure to properly transfer possession of complete mortgage files has hindered numerous foreclosure proceedings and resulted in fraudulent activities,” the attorney general said in court documents.

Bank of America faced similar claims from Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, who accused the Charlotte, North Carolina-based lender of conducting foreclosures without authority in its role as mortgage servicer due improper document transfers. In an amended complaint last year, Masto said Countrywide failed to deliver original mortgage notes to the trusts or provided notes with defects.

The lawsuit was settled as part of the national foreclosure settlement, Masto spokeswoman Jennifer Lopez said.

Bank of America spokesman Rick Simon declined to comment about the claims made by states and investors. BNY Mellon performed its duties as defined in the agreements governing the securitizations, spokesman Kevin Heine said.

“We believe that claims against the trustee are based on a misunderstanding of the limited role of the trustee in mortgage securitizations,” he said.

Biden, in his complaint over mortgage database MERS, cites a foreclosure by Deutsche Bank AG (DBK) as trustee in which the promissory note wasn’t delivered to the bank as required under an agreement governing the securitization. The office is concerned that such errors led to foreclosures by banks that lacked authority to seize homes, one of the people said.

Renee Calabro, spokeswoman for Frankfurt-based Deutsche Bank, declined to comment.

Investors have raised similar claims against banks. The Oklahoma Police Pension and Retirement System last year sued U.S. Bancorp as trustee for mortgage bonds sold by Bear Stearns. The bank “regularly disregarded” its duty as trustee to review loan files to ensure there were no missing or defective documents transferred to the trusts. The bank’s actions caused millions of dollars in losses on securities “that were not, in fact, legally collateralized by mortgage loans,” according to an amended complaint.

“Bondholders could have serious claims on their hands,” said Gradman. “You’re going to suffer a loss as bondholder if you can’t foreclose, if you can’t liquidate that property and recoup.”

Teri Charest, a spokeswoman for Minneapolis-based U.S. Bancorp (USB), said the bank isn’t liable and doesn’t know if any party is at fault in the structuring or administration of the transactions.

“If there was fault, this unhappy investor is seeking recompense from the wrong party,” she said. “We were not the sponsor, underwriter, custodian, servicer or administrator of this transaction.”

SEC ISSUES WELLS NOTICES TO MAJOR BANKS

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Sifting Through 25 Million Pages of Documents

EDITOR’S COMMENT: Attorneys for homeowners should watch these investor suits carefully. Contained within them are allegations and discovery relating to the enforceability of the mortgage liens as well as the failure to properly underwrite the loans.

The fact that the SEC is going after the banks on these issues is a good thing, but not unless it is referred for criminal prosecution. If our securities markets are subject to outright criminal fraud and we don’t do anything about the criminal aspect, we are sending the wrong signal out to the rest of the world which already views our mortgage debacle as a virtual attack on the sovereignty of dozens of countries.

If we want to see our credit markets revive and our economy, we will need to make investors feel certain that the regulatory environment and law enforcement are working together to bring criminal masterminds to justice. Anything short of that will result in a slow but rising attrition to anywhere but the U.S. credit markets.

Feb 8 (Reuters) – U.S. securities regulators plan to warn several major banks that they may sue them over the sale of bonds linked to sub-prime mortgages that ignited the financial crisis in 2008, the Wall Street Journal said, citing people familiar with the matter.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is looking at whether the banks misrepresented the poor quality of loan pools they bundled and sold to investors, the people told the Journal.

It was not clear which firms will receive the formal SEC enforcement warnings, known as “Wells notices”, the paper said.

Banks whose activities are being examined in the civil investigation include Ally Financial Inc, Bank of America Corp , Citigroup, Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs, the Journal said.

Ally Financial spokeswoman Gina Proia told Reuters that she could comment on the Journal report.

Representatives of the banks and SEC declined to comment, the Journal said.

None of the other parties could immediately be reached for comment by Reuters outside regular U.S. business hours.

Speaking at a news conference in January, SEC enforcement director Robert Khuzami said his agency already reviewed 25 million pages of documents on mortgage-related investigations.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, sued 17 large banks last September over losses on about $200 billion of subprime bonds and said the underlying mortgages did not meet investors’ criteria.

OCC AND FEDERAL RESERVE DEMAND BANKS START REVIEW PROCESS ON OVER 4 MILLION LOANS

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“This is the ultimate discovery mechanism that the Banks have been avoiding for 6 years. If it is used properly, at the end of the day everyone will know everything they need to know — where the money came from and where it went, where the documents came from and where they went, who signed them and with what authority, with what knowledge etc. You can ask for proof of the formation and current existence of the trust, its status and an accounting from the Trust for money in and out. If the Banks are forced to actually give up this information both the investors and the borrowers are going to see exactly how they have been screwed.” Neil Garfield, livinglies.me

THE MORE INFORMATION YOU ALREADY HAVE (FROM THE COMBO TITLE AND SECURITIZATION REPORT, LOAN LEVEL ACCOUNTING, FORENSIC ANALYSIS ETC), THE MORE POINTED YOUR QUESTIONS. DO YOUR HOMEWORK!

SEE IMPORTANT WHITE PAPER: National Consumer Law Firm Servicers Why They Foreclose

YOU MUST WRITE DEMAND FOR REVIEW

EDITOR’S NOTE: In an important step (maybe), the Federal regulators are now showing their ire at the Banks who entered into consent decrees in which they were ordered to conduct thorough audits of the accounts they claim they service or own. The Banks have not done it for the same reason they have fought so hard to resist discovery attempts in court — the results will be devastating to the position of the Banks in their court filings, their SEC filings and their reports to regulators. There are several elements listed but the complete list of items are in the actual orders that are posted on this Blog and at OCC website.

A key component I think in this process is that you demand that they explain discrepancies that you have already found and that you ask them about other things that you believe apply to your loan. It is very much like a QWR. You can use the QWR form free on this blog as a form and adapt it. Get a lawyer to draft it and I would suggest that it go out under a lawyer’s letterhead. Make sure the lawyer is licensed in the jurisdiction in which the property is located.

The Banks are already behind schedule on this and they are continuing to stone wall — because in the past it has always worked with the agency accepting far less than what was ordered. You can make the difference by demanding answers and when you don’t get them reporting it to the OCC and Federal Reserve. But better yet, these documents and the method that was used to audit the accounts, must be made available to you. You can demand them from the servicer, the purported owner of the loan, the Federal reserve and the OCC (or OTS if that applies).

I would recommend that in your discovery you ask them to produce their responses to this requirement in the OCC orders, that you question them in interrogatories as to who is in charge of the audit process at the Bank, what their plan is (and provide a copy), who is involved in the audit process at the Bank, what independent consultants they have used — note that they all announced they would use independent consultants), requests for admission based upon their failure to comply with the OCC, OTS and Federal Reserve Consent Decrees, and notices for deposition of the people who are identified as being in charge of the audit process for the Bank. It isn’t enough that they say they outsourced it. Who at the Bank signed the outsource contract? What did the contract say and who has it? To whom does the outsource contractor report? You get the idea, I hope.

Whatever opposition the Bank raises to these questions and demands for discovery should be reported to the regulators as direct proof that the Banks are refusing to comply with the intent of the Order — which is to allow borrowers to know the facts about their mortgage loan — or to be more precise the facts about the origination and chain of events before, during and after the transaction in which their obligation arose.

Here are some questions I would like to see answered on each closing:

  1. Using UCC as guideline, who was the creditor at the time of the closing?
  2. Where did the money for the closing come from?
  3. Where did the money go (the money that was paid by borrower, by third parties, etc.)
  4. How much money was received from each category of insurance and credit enhancement? By whom was it received?
  5. What reports were issued to investors? What accounting?
  6. Relative to the initial money borrowed from investors, what is the current balance due to those investors? How was this figure determined? By whom?
  7. Is the Bank or Servicer claiming to be an agent of the investors?
  8. What entity is authorized to sign a satisfaction of mortgage (or release and reconveyance) by virtue of the fact that the amount due to that entity has been paid?
  9. What are the duties of the trustee with respect to foreclosure on your property?
  10. What fees and profits were paid to the servicer, trustees, and other third parties in connection with processing your loan origination, processing payments from all sources, and processing foreclosure?
  11. Have any documents been filed in court or in the title registry that contained signatures of people who were unauthroized to sign on behalf of the entity receiving the benefit of the document filed?
  12. Have any documents been filed in court or the title registry that contained the signatures of people who had no knowledge of the contents of the document or any data or information supporting the contents of the document?
  13. Have any documents been filed in court or the title registry that contained information that was untrue? OK, how about information that the servicer or Bank doesn’t know if it was true or not?
  14. What is the procedure by which information was obtained to initiate foreclosure? Who was in charge of that?
  15. What is the procedure by which information was obtained to draft affidavits filed in court? who was in charge of that?
  16. What is the procedure by which modifications are considered? Who is in charge of that?
  17. What evidence exists that the investors were told of the existence of a modification offer?
  18. What method was used to evaluate the relative merits of foreclosure versus modification? By whom?
  19. What are the financial reasons for turning down a modification or short-sale? How is that determined? By whom?
  20. What are the legal reasons for turning down a modification or short-sale? How is that determined? By whom?

Regulators Begin Offering Foreclosure Reviews to Borrowers

By Lorraine Woellert

(Updates with industry and regulator comments starting in the sixth paragraph.)

Nov. 1 (Bloomberg) — U.S. mortgage servicers have begun offering case reviews to borrowers who may have suffered financial injury from errors and misrepresentations during foreclosure proceedings in 2009 and 2010, according to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

The reviews, announced by the OCC in a statement today, are required under a settlement regulators reached with 14 of the biggest mortgage-servicing firms to resolve complaints over mishandled home seizures. The OCC was joined by the Federal Reserve and the Office of Thrift Supervision in the reaching the April accord with companies including JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc. and Wells Fargo & Co.

The companies have hired independent consultants to review foreclosure actions to determine whether borrowers were harmed and recommend appropriate remediation where necessary, the OCC said today. Letters explaining the review process are being sent to an estimated 4.5 million eligible borrowers, who may request reviews through April 30, 2012, the agency said.

“The challenge is substantial, but the steps we have required the servicers to take are vitally important to resolving these issues in a way that respects the rights of those who have been harmed and helps to restore confidence in the system,” John Walsh, acting Comptroller of the Currency, said in the OCC’s statement.

A record 2.87 million homeowners received foreclosure filings in 2010, surpassing the 2.82 million total for 2009, according to Irvine, California-based RealtyTrac Inc.

The first letters went out today, according to Joe Evers, the OCC’s deputy comptroller for large banks. Borrowers also can request a review at www.independentforeclosurereview.com.

Mortgage servicers will run an advertising campaign later this year and work with housing counselors to get word out to eligible borrowers, said Paul Leonard, a Financial Services Roundtable lobbyist who is serving as a spokesman for the firms.

It’s impossible to predict how many borrowers might be awarded compensation or when they might receive it, Leonard said today on a conference call. Regulators will make the final decision on whether borrowers have suffered harm and the amount of any remediation, he said.

The Fed and the OCC, which absorbed the OTS in July, haven’t offered said what might constitute harm to borrowers. Consultants will review company records and homeowner information to make decisions about compensation, according to Evers.

“Between the two sets of information, they should be able to determine if there’s injury or harm,” he told reporters on a conference call.

Robo-signing

Companies are being required to conduct the reviews under terms of the consent agreement they reached with regulators to resolve claims that they botched foreclosure paperwork amid the wave of foreclosures stemming from the subprime mortgage crisis. Reports of document robo-signing prompted several lenders to temporarily suspend foreclosures last year.

Servicers signing the accords included JPMorgan, Wells Fargo, Bank of America Corp., Citigroup, Ally Financial Inc.’s GMAC unit, Aurora Bank FSB, EverBank Financial Corp., HSBC Holdings Plc, OneWest, MetLife Inc., PNC Financial Services Group Inc., Sovereign Bank, SunTrust Banks Inc. and US Bancorp.

In addition to compensating harmed borrowers, the banks agreed to improve their foreclosure, loan modification and refinancing procedures by hiring staff, upgrading tracking systems, assigning each borrower a single point of contact, and policing lawyers and vendors.

State attorneys general and the U.S. Justice Department are continuing their own talks with servicers to seek additional relief for homeowners.

–Editor: Gregory Mott

To contact the reporter on this story: Lorraine Woellert in Washington at lwoellert@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Lawrence Roberts at lroberts13@bloomberg.net

Allocating Bailout to YOUR LOAN

Editor’s Note: Here is the problem. As I explained to a Judge last week, if Aunt Alice pays off my obligation then the fact that someone still has the note is irrelevant. The note is unenforceable and should be returned as paid. That is because the note is EVIDENCE of the obligation, it isn’t THE obligation. And by the way the note is only one portion of the evidence of the obligation in a securitized loan. Using the note as the only evidence in a securitized loan is like paying for groceries with sea shells. They were once currency in some places, but they don’t go very far anymore.

The obligation rises when the money is funded to the borrower and extinguished when the creditor receives payment — regardless of who they receive the payment from (pardon the grammar).

The Judge agreed. (He had no choice, it is basic black letter law that is irrefutable). But his answer was that Aunt Alice wasn’t in the room saying she had paid the obligation. Yes, I said, that is right. And the reason is that we don’t know the name of Aunt Alice, but only that she exists and that she paid. And the reason that we don’t know is that the opposing side who DOES know Aunt Alice, won’t give us the information, even though the attorney for the borrower has been asking for it formally and informally through discovery for 9 months.

I should mention here that it was a motion for lift stay which is the equivalent of a motion for summary judgment. While Judges have discretion about evidence, they can’t make it up. And while legal presumptions apply the burden on the moving party in a motion to lift stay is to remove any conceivable doubt that they are the creditor, that the obligation is correctly stated and to do so through competent witnesses and authenticated business records, documents, recorded and otherwise. All motions for lift stay should be denied frankly because of thee existence of multiple stakeholders and the existence of multiple claims. Unless the motion for lift stay is predicated on proceeding with a judicial foreclosure, the motion for lift stay is the equivalent of circumventing due process and the right to be heard on the merits.

But I was able to say that the the PSA called for credit default swaps to be completed by the cutoff date and that obviously they have been paid in whole or in part. And I was able to say that AMBAC definitely made payments on this pool, but that the opposing side refused to allocate them to this loan. Now we have the FED hiding the payments it made on these pools enabling the opposing side (pretender lenders) to claim that they would like to give us the information but the Federal reserve won’t let them because there is an agreement not to disclose for 10 years notwithstanding the freedom of information act.

So we have Aunt Alice, Uncle Fred, Mom and Dad all paying the creditor thus reducing the obligation to nothing but the servicer, who has no knowledge of those payments, won’t credit them against the obligation because the servicer is only counting the payments from the debtor. And so the pretender lenders come in and foreclose on properties where they know third party payments have been made but not allocated and claim the loan is in default when some or all of the loan has been repaid.

Thus the loan is not in default, but borrowers and their lawyers are conceding the default. DON’T CONCEDE ANYTHING. ALLEGE PAYMENT EVEN THOUGH IT DIDN’T COME FROM THE DEBTOR.

This is why you need to demand an accounting and perhaps the appointment of a receiver. Because if the servicer says they can’t get the information then the servicer is admitting they can’t do the job. So appoint an accountant or some other receiver to do the job with subpoena power from the court.

Practice Hint: If you let them take control of the narrative and talk about the note, you have already lost. The note is not the obligation. Your position is that part or all of the obligation has been paid, that you have an expert declaration computing those payments as close as  possible using what information has been released, published or otherwise available, and that the pretender lenders either refuse or failed to credit the debtor with payments from third party sources —- credit default swaps, insurance and other guarantees paid for out of the proceeds of the loan transaction, PLUS the federal bailout from TARP, TALF, Maiden Lane deals, and the Federal reserve.

The Judge may get stuck on the idea of giving a free house, but how many times is he going to require the obligation to be paid off before the homeowner gets credit for the issuance that was was paid for out of the proceeds of the borrowers transaction with the creditor?

Fed Shouldn’t Reveal Crisis Loans, Banks Vow to Tell High Court

By Bob Ivry

April 14 (Bloomberg) — The biggest U.S. commercial banks will take their fight against disclosure of Federal Reserve lending in 2008 to the Supreme Court if necessary, the top lawyer for an industry-owned group said.

Continued legal appeals will delay or block the first public look at details of the central bank’s $2 trillion in emergency lending during the 2008 financial crisis. The Clearing House Association LLC, a group that includes Bank of America Corp. and JPMorgan Chase & Co., joined the Fed in defense of a lawsuit brought by Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News, seeking release of records related to four Fed lending programs.

The U.S. Court of Appeals in Manhattan ruled March 19 that the central bank must release the documents. A three-judge panel of the appellate court rejected the Fed’s argument that disclosure would stigmatize borrowers and discourage banks from seeking emergency help.

“Our member banks are very concerned about real-time disclosure of information that could cause a run on the banks,” said Paul Saltzman, the group’s general counsel, in an interview yesterday. “We’re not going to let the Second Circuit opinion stand without seeking a review.”

Regardless of whether the Fed appeals, the Clearing House will take the next legal step by asking for a review by the full appellate court, Saltzman, 49, said at his office in New York. If the ruling is unfavorable, the bank group will petition the Supreme Court, he said.

Joined Lawsuit

The 157-year-old, New York-based Clearing House Payments Co., which processes transactions among banks, is owned by its 20 members. They include Citigroup Inc., Bank of New York Mellon Corp., Deutsche Bank AG, HSBC Holdings Plc, PNC Financial Services Group Inc., UBS AG, U.S. Bancorp and Wells Fargo & Co.

The Clearing House Association, a lobbying group with the same members, joined the lawsuit in September 2009, after an initial ruling against the central bank in federal court in Manhattan.

The Fed is “reviewing the decision and considering our options,” said Fed spokesman David Skidmore in Washington. He had no comment on Saltzman’s plans.

Attorneys face a May 3 deadline to file their appeals.

“We’ll wait to see the motion papers,” said Thomas Golden, attorney for Bloomberg who is a partner at New York- based Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP. “The judges’ decision was well-reasoned, and we doubt further appeals will yield a different result.”

Bloomberg sued in November 2008 under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, after the Fed denied access to records of four Fed lending programs and a loan the central bank made in connection with New York-based JPMorgan Chase’s acquisition of Bear Stearns Cos. in March 2008.

231 Pages

The central bank contends that 231 pages of daily reports summarizing lending activity, which were prepared by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York for the Fed Board of Governors in Washington, aren’t covered by the FOIA. The statute obliges federal agencies to make government documents available to the press and the public. The suit doesn’t seek money damages.

The Fed released lists on March 31 of assets it acquired in the 2008 bailout of Bear Stearns.

The New York Times Co., the Associated Press and Dow Jones & Co., publisher of the Wall Street Journal, are among media companies that have signed up as friends of the court in support of Bloomberg.

The Fed Board of Governors’ “refusal to disclose the names of borrowers renders public oversight of its actions impossible — it prevents any assessment of the effectiveness of the Board’s actions and conceals any collusion, corruption, fraud or abuse that might have occurred,” the news organizations said in a letter to the appeals panel.

The case is Bloomberg LP v. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, 09-04083, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (New York).

To contact the reporter on this story: Bob Ivry in New York at bivry@bloomberg.net.

Last Updated: April 14, 2010 00:01 EDT

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