TBW Taylor Bean Chairman Arrested On Fraud Charges

“The fraud here is truly stunning in its scale and complexity,” said Lanny A. Breuer, assistant attorney general in the criminal division of the Department of Justice. “These charges send a strong message to corporations and corporate executives alike that financial fraud will be found, and it will be prosecuted.”

Once they determined that that approach might be difficult to conceal, they started selling mortgage pools and other assets to Colonial Bank that they knew to be worthless, officials said. Mr. Farkas and his partners relied on this technique to sell more than $1 billion of fraudulent assets over the course of several years, even covering up the fraud by recycling old fake assets for new ones, according to the complaints.

Editor’s Note: TBW has been high on my list of incompetent fraudsters. I always thought it was a stupid risk to “sell” mortgages and “sell” the servicing rights (probably to their own entity), and then take the servicing back. Stupid maybe, but they had no choice. The entire Taylor Bean operation wreaks of fraud and inconsistencies.

Bottom Line: If you have a TBW as the originating “lender” this article indicates, as we have known all along, that they were using OPM (Other People’s Money) and they were NOT the lender even though they said they were. It is highly likely that few, if any, of the loans were actually “securitized” because the loans were either nonexistent as described, never accepted by any pool (even though there might be a pool out there that claims ownership) and that none of the assignments were ever completed.

Thus your claims against TBW (including appraisal fraud, predatory loan practices, deceptive loan practices, fraud etc.) are properly directed, to wit: TBW still owns the paper, although the obligation is subject to an equitable unsecured claim from investors who funded the loan.

June 16, 2010

Executive Charged in TARP Scheme

By ERIC DASH

Federal prosecutors on Wednesday accused the former chairman of Taylor, Bean & Whitaker, once one of the nation’s largest mortgage lenders, of masterminding a fraud scheme that cheated investors and the federal government out of billions of dollars and led to last year’s sudden failure of Colonial Bank.

The executive, Lee B. Farkas, was arrested late Tuesday in Ocala, Fla., after a federal grand jury in Virginia indicted him on 16 counts of conspiracy, bank fraud, wire fraud and securities fraud. Separately, the Securities and Exchange Commission brought civil fraud charges against Mr. Farkas in a lawsuit filed on Wednesday.

Prosecutors said the fraud would be one of the biggest and most complex to come out of the housing collapse and the government’s huge bailout of the banking industry. In essence, they described an elaborate shell game that involved covering up the lender’s losses by creating fake mortgages and passing them along to private investors and government agencies.

Federal officials became suspicious after Colonial BancGroup, the main source of financing for Mr. Farkas’s company, tried to obtain $553 million in bailout money from the Troubled Asset Relief Program. The TARP application, filed in early 2009, was contingent on the bank first raising $300 million from private investors.

According to the S.E.C. complaint, Mr. Farkas and his partners said they would contribute $150 million, two private equity firms would each contribute $50 million, and a “friends and family” investor group would contribute another $50 million. “In truth, neither of the $50 million investors were private equity investors and neither ever agreed to participate,” the complaint said.

Mr. Farkas pocketed at least $20 million from the fraud, which he used to finance a private jet and a lavish lifestyle that included five homes and a collection of vintage cars, prosecutors said.

But the case is likely to expand beyond Mr. Farkas. The complaints cite the involvement of an unnamed Colonial Bank executive and other co-conspirators in the suspected fraud, and prosecutors said they might hold others accountable down the road.

“The fraud here is truly stunning in its scale and complexity,” said Lanny A. Breuer, assistant attorney general in the criminal division of the Department of Justice. “These charges send a strong message to corporations and corporate executives alike that financial fraud will be found, and it will be prosecuted.”

Officials said the many layers of the scheme resulted in more than $1.9 billion of losses to investors; a $3 billion loss to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which guaranteed many of the loans that Mr. Farkas’s company sold; and a $3.6 billion hit to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which had to take over Colonial Bank and pay its depositors after many of the bank’s assets were found to be worthless.

The complaints also list BNP Paribas and Deutsche Bank, which provided financing to Mr. Farkas’s company, as victims of the suspected fraud. Together, they lost $1.5 billion.

According to the complaints, the fraud started as early as 2002 with an effort to conceal rising operating losses at Taylor, Bean & Whitaker, a mortgage lender founded by Mr. Farkas. The first stage involved an attempt to hide overdrafts on a credit line the company had with Colonial Bank. As those overdrafts grew, prosecutors contend, Mr. Farkas and his associates started selling fake mortgage assets to Colonial Bank in exchange for tens of millions of dollars.

Once they determined that that approach might be difficult to conceal, they started selling mortgage pools and other assets to Colonial Bank that they knew to be worthless, officials said. Mr. Farkas and his partners relied on this technique to sell more than $1 billion of fraudulent assets over the course of several years, even covering up the fraud by recycling old fake assets for new ones, according to the complaints.

The transactions were “designed to give the false appearance that the loans were being sold into the secondary mortgage market,” Mr. Breuer said. “In fact, they were not.”

By 2008, prosecutors contend, the scheme had entangled the federal government. Investigators in the Office of the Special Inspector General for TARP took notice of the size of Colonial Bank’s bailout application and became suspicious of the accuracy of the bank’s statements.

That led investigators to alert other federal officials and draw a connection between Colonial Bank and Taylor, Bean & Whitaker, whose offices were raided by federal agents in August 2009. Both companies would soon stop operating.

“We knew it was a longstanding and close relationship between Colonial and T.B.W., and we decided that we needed to take a much closer look,” Neil M. Barofsky, the TARP special inspector general, said at a news conference on Wednesday. Investigators also discussed the situation with Treasury officials to “make sure the money would not go out the door.”

Federal officials have conducted nearly 80 criminal and civil investigations into companies that accepted TARP money, but so far they have filed charges in only one other case. In March, the head of Park Avenue Bank in Manhattan was accused of trying to defraud the government bailout program.

Want to Buy Your Loan?: Toxic Asset Plan Foresees Big Subsidies for Investors

To start the program, Treasury will ask banks, like Citigroup or JPMorgan Chase, to identify pools of residential and commercial real estate loans that they will be willing to sell through an auction. Private investors will bid against each other, setting a market price. No bank will be required to participate.
Editor’s Note: it’s starting. Principal reductions are coming. The original plan I proposed in which everyone shares the loss is falling into place. Make sure you get a judgment quieting title as part of your mortgage modification or settlement.
March 21, 2009

Toxic Asset Plan Foresees Big Subsidies for Investors

This article is by Edmund L. Andrews, Eric Dash and Graham Bowley.

WASHINGTON — The Treasury Department is expected to unveil early next week its long-delayed plan to buy as much as $1 trillion in troubled mortgages and related assets from financial institutions, according to people close to the talks.

The plan is likely to offer generous subsidies, in the form of low-interest loans, to coax investors to form partnerships with the government to buy toxic assets from banks.

To help protect taxpayers, who would pay for the bulk of the purchases, the plan calls for auctioning assets to the highest bidders.

The uproar over the American International Group’s bonuses has not stopped the Obama administration from plowing ahead. The plan is not expected to impose restrictions on the executive pay of private investors or fund managers who participate.

The three-pronged approach is perhaps the most central component of President Obama’s plan to rescue the nation’s banking system from the money-losing assets weighing down bank balance sheets, crippling their ability to make new loans and deepening the recession.

Industry analysts estimate that the nation’s banks are holding at least $2 trillion in troubled assets, mostly residential and commercial mortgages.

The plan to be announced next week involves three separate approaches. In one, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation will set up special-purpose investment partnerships and lend about 85 percent of the money that those partnerships will need to buy up troubled assets that banks want to sell.

In the second, the Treasury will hire four or five investment management firms, matching the private money that each of the firms puts up on a dollar-for-dollar basis with government money.

In the third piece, the Treasury plans to expand lending through the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility, a joint venture with the Federal Reserve.

The goal of the plan is to leverage the dwindling resources of the Treasury Department’s bailout program with money from private investors to buy up as many of those toxic assets as possible and free the banks to resume more normal lending.

But the details have been treacherously difficult, politically and financially, and some of the big decisions are the same as those that bedeviled the Treasury Department under President George W. Bush last year.

Timothy F. Geithner, the Treasury secretary, provoked scathing criticism from investors in February by announcing the broad outlines of the plan without addressing the tough questions, like how the government planned to share the risk with investors or arrive at a fair price for the assets that would neither cheat taxpayers nor harm the banks.

Although the details of the F.D.I.C. part were still being completed on Friday, it is expected that the government will provide the overwhelming bulk of the money — possibly more than 95 percent — through loans or direct investments of taxpayer money.

The hope is that such a generous taxpayer subsidy will attract private investors into the market and accelerate the recovery of the country’s banks.

The key protection for taxpayers, according to people briefed on the plan, is that the private investors will bid in auctions against each other for the assets. As a result, administration officials contend, the government will be buying the troubled loans of the banks at a deep discount to their original face value.

Because the government can hold those mortgages as long as it wants, officials are betting the government will be repaid and that taxpayers may even earn a profit if the market value of the loans climbs in the years to come.

To entice private investors like hedge funds and private equity firms to take part, the F.D.I.C. will provide nonrecourse loans — that is, loans that are secured only by the value of the mortgage assets being bought — worth up to 85 percent of the value of a portfolio of troubled assets.

The remaining 15 percent will come from the government and the private investors. The Treasury would put up as much as 80 percent of that, while private investors would put up as little as 20 percent of the money, according to industry officials. Private investors, then, would be contributing as little as 3 percent of the equity, and the government as much as 97 percent.

The government would receive interest payments on the money it lent to a partnership and it would share profits and losses on the equity portion of the investment with the private investors.

Ever since last fall, industry analysts and policy makers in Washington have argued that the banking system’s biggest problem was the huge pile of troubled mortgages and other loans on bank balance sheets.

Risk-taking institutional investors, like hedge funds and private equity funds, have refused to pay more than about 30 cents on the dollar for many bundles of mortgages, even if most of the borrowers are still current. But banks holding those mortgages, not wanting to book huge losses on their holdings, have often refused to sell for less than 60 cents on the dollar.

The result has been a paralyzing impasse. Banks, unwilling to sell their loans at fire-sale prices, have had less capital available to make new loans. Mortgage investors, unable to leverage their investments with borrowed money, have been unwilling to pay more than fire-sale prices.

To break that impasse, the government’s crucial subsidy is meant to provide investors with the kind of low-cost financing that has been utterly unavailable in today’s credit markets.

Administration officials refused to comment on the details of the plan, and refused to say what kind of interest rates the government would be charging investors. But government officials have long maintained that they could charge slightly more than the Treasury’s own cost of money and still offer rates far less than the private markets would demand.

To start the program, Treasury will ask banks, like Citigroup or JPMorgan Chase, to identify pools of residential and commercial real estate loans that they will be willing to sell through an auction. Private investors will bid against each other, setting a market price. No bank will be required to participate.

Analysts worry whether the prices investors offer will be high enough to induce the banks to sell assets. The hope is that high valuations at the auctions will increase the price of assets that remain on the books of banks, bolstering confidence in the sector.

Still, the Treasury Department’s biggest obstacle may be the current political environment in Washington, where Democratic lawmakers are furious about the pay packages and bonuses received by executives at companies being rescued by taxpayers.

Many investment executives said they were worried that participating in any bailout program would expose them to political wrath and potentially steep new restrictions on their own pay.

Treasury and Fed officials have remained firmly against imposing any restrictions on pay for companies investing money in the rescue effort rather than receiving money from it.

The plan comes as financial institutions continue to fail. Federal regulators Friday seized control of the two largest wholesale credit unions — U.S. Central Federal Credit Union and Western Corporate Federal Credit Union — which together had $57 billion in assets. They provide financing, check-clearing and other tasks for retail credit unions.

Michael J. de la Merced contributed reporting from New York.

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