Latest Moratorium Extensions Are Two-Edged Sword

The new president is facing incoming fire from all directions. If he does not extend the moratorium on foreclosures and evictions, hundreds of thousands of people are going to be homeless. But the extension does not come without costs.
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As you have seen on these pages, I am quite confident that none of the scheduled payments from homeowners are legally due. On the other hand, I am loathe to tell homeowners or tenants that they should withhold payments if they can make them.
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The reason is basically extortion or duress. By withholding a scheduled payment without a court order telling you can don’t need to make the payment, you put yourself and your home in jeopardy. the Wall Street foreclosure team will use that as their excuse for pursuing collection and enforcement ending in foreclosure and eviction if you don’t properly defend.
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The situation with tenants is even more dire. Many if not most rental units are owned by small landlords who do not possess the resources to get through this pandemic period. When the time comes that their units are exempted from moratoriums by time or edict, they will be required to pay the “arrearage” just like everyone else. Those homeowners who are using the moratorium as an excuse to withhold payment without having a plan of attack are headed for trouble — possibly the kind they can’t fix.
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The obvious answer to this problem is for homeowners to launch preemptive lawsuits against the securitization team. But my observations and experience show that most judges will not allow such lawsuits to go forward. this is because it is seen as an attack on the financial system generally and because judges are afraid that allowing such lawsuits will invite many more that will clog all the court systems. I have had many judges agree that the lawsuit did state a claim but dismissed it anyway sometimes after as much as 14 months of sitting on the motion to dismiss.
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Some people believe that the judges don’t get it. But most of them do “get it” — at least in part. Since those judges believe the loan exists, the loan account exists and that the homeowners almost certainly owe the payments, they see little harm in waiting until enforcement action is brought against the offending homeowner. Then they will occasionally rule in favor of a homeowner who reveals fatal deficiencies in the proof of the claim.
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It is during the moratorium periods that homeowners have an unprecedented opportunity to start actions against the securitization team — but not entirely the way most might think. By sending a proper Qualified Written Request and Debt Validation Letter you open up a more palatable action for the Judges in advance of enforcement. This is the opening step in the homeowner’s challenge.
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They must answer and they risk some rather harsh sanctions if they lie — so they withhold information. But the information they give in response to the statutory inquiries will most likely contain inconsistencies with their correspondence.
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Your questions need to be very specific. And they should start with existence, ownership, and authority over a loan account receivable on the ledger of some company; that entry can only be legal and valid if value was paid in exchange for a conveyance of ownership of the loan account receivable (aka underlying debt or underlying obligation). This is the most basic requirement established by law and custom over centuries in English common law and statutes, American common law; it is also established as the law in every jurisdiction in their adoption of Article 9 §203 of the Uniform Commercial Code.
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Next, the homeowner can file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Board and the Consumer Division of the Attorney General of their State. Once again a response is mandated by statute and the securitization/foreclosure team does no dare withhold a response. but once again their response is going to be filled with legalese evasion of admitting the simple fact that they don’t own the loan account receivable and they have not been given any authority from anyone who does own it.
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Homeowners should not allege nor try to prove that all securitization of residential “debt” is a fraudulent scheme or a lie, even though that is true. It scares judges and it sounds like a conspiracy theory to them. So keep it simple and to the point.
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Foreclosure is about restitution for an unpaid debt. If the claiming party has no actual ownership of the debt arising from a real-world transaction in which they paid value in exchange for owning the loan account receivable they fail the test of the condition precedent set forth in 9-203 of the UCC. And that opens the door to “limited” actions for violations of the FDCPA (title X, 124 Stat. 2092 (2010) and other statutes. Those statutes have a bite to them and the foreclosure mills are afraid of them.
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The advantage of the preemptive action by the homeowner is that very often the securitization/collection/foreclosure team is not ready with fabricated documents containing false information about transactions that never occurred.
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The rule of thumb is to create a vehicle that can be gradually expanded as more information is obtained and the judge is gradually educated as to the true facts of the case. And remember that attorney fees are often recoverable in such actions along with statutory or compensatory damages.
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Once filed and discovery is underway, the best practice is to take information gleaned from discovery and then request a leave of court to amend the pleadings to include a broader action for declaratory, injunctive, and supplemental relief.
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The homeowner would be seeking damages for illegally trying to enforce a debt, and disgorgement of amounts paid to parties who had no nexus to ownership, or authority over the claimed “debt.” While this premise is true in virtually all cases in which securitization claims were in play, it can only be established by revealing the inability or unwillingness of the opposition to answer the most basic questions about existence, ownership, and authority over the debt.
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They can’t but you must do much more than accusing them. You must out litigate them which is why you most likely should have a lawyer who knows how to file motions to dismiss, discovery requests and motions to enforce discovery requests, along with motions for sanctions, motions for the court to adopt a negative inference against the opposition and motions in limine.
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If small landlords take heed, they can force the situation to tilt in their own favor, pass some of the savings to tenants and come out the other end of this crisis somewhat intact. If they don’t then it is unlikely that many of them will survive after the moratorium ceases unless their tenants have been paying rent in a timely fashion.
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Neil F Garfield, MBA, JD, 73, is a Florida licensed trial and appellate attorney since 1977. He has received multiple academic and achievement awards in business and law. He is a former investment banker, securities broker, securities analyst, and financial analyst.
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Pandemic Lying Admission: Deutsch Bank Up and Down the Fake Securitization Chain

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Editor’s Comment:

One problem with securitization in practice even under the academic model is the effect on potential enforcement of the obligation, even assuming that the “lender” is properly identified in the closing documents with the buyer of the loan product and the closing papers of the buyer of the mortgage bonds (and we’ll assume that the mortgage bonds are real and valid, as well as having been issued by a fully funded REMIC in which loans were properly assigned and transferred —- an assumption, as we have seen that is not true in the real world). Take this quote from the glossary at the back of this book and which in turn was taken from established authoritative sources used by bankers, securities firms and accountants:

cross guarantees and credit default swaps, synthetic collateralized asset obligations and other exotic equity and debt instruments, each of which promises the holder an incomplete interest in the original security instrument and the revenue flow starting with the alleged borrower and ending with various parties who receive said revenue, including but not limited to parties who are obligated to make payments for shortfalls of revenues.

Real Property Lawyers spot the problem immediately.

First question is when do these cross guarantees, CDS, Insurance, and other exotic instruments arise. If they are in existence at the time of the closing with the borrower homeowner then the note and mortgage are not properly drafted as to terms of repayment nor identity of the lender/creditor. This renders the note either unenforceable or requiring the admission of parole evidence in any action to either enforce against the borrower or enforce the cross obligations of the new cross creditors who supposedly are receiving not just rights to the receivable but to the actual note and the actual mortgage.

Hence even a truthful statement that the “Trustee” beings this foreclosure on behalf of the “trust” as creditor (assuming a Trust existed by law and that the Trustee, and beneficiaries and terms were clear) would be insufficient if any of these “credit enhancements” and other synthetic or exotic vehicles were in place. The Trustee on the Deed of Sale would be required to get an accounting from each of the entities that are parties or counterparties whose interest is effected by the foreclosure and who would be entitled to part of the receivable generated either by the foreclosure itself or the payment by counterparties who “bet wrong” on the mortgage pool.

The second question is whether some or any or all of these instruments came into existence or were actualized by a required transaction AFTER the closing with the homeowner borrower. It would seem that while the original note and mortgage (or Deed of Trust) might not be affected directly by these instruments, the enforcement mechanism would still be subject to the same issues as raised above when they were fully actualized and in existence at the time of the closing with the homeowner borrower.

Deutsch Bank was a central player in most of the securitized mortgages in a variety of ways including the exotic instruments referred to above. If there was any doubt about whether there existed pandemic lying and cheating, it was removed when the U.S. Attorney Civil Frauds Unit obtained admissions and a judgment for Deutsch to pay over $200 million resulting from intentional misrepresentations contained in various documents used with numerous entities and people up and down the fictitious securitization chain. Similar claims are brought against Citi (which settled so far for $215 million in February, 2012) Flagstar Bank FSB (which settled so far for $133 million in February 2012, and Allied Home Mortgage Corp, which is still pending. Even the most casual reader can see that the entire securitization model was distorted by fraud from one end (the investor lender) to the other (the homeowner borrower) and back again (the parties and counterparties in insurance, bailouts, credit default swaps, cross guarantees that violated the terms of every promissory note etc.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Recovers $202.3 Million From Deutsche Bank And Mortgageit In Civil Fraud Case Alleging Reckless Mortgage Lending Practices And False Certifications To HUD

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                  Thursday May 10, 2012

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Stuart F. Delery, the Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, Helen Kanovsky, General Counsel of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”), and David A. Montoya, Inspector General of HUD, announced today that the United States has settled a civil fraud lawsuit against DEUTSCHE BANK AG, DB STRUCTURED PRODUCTS, INC., DEUTSCHE BANK SECURITIES, INC. (collectively “DEUTSCHE BANK” or the “DEUTSCHE BANK defendants”) and MORTGAGEIT, INC. (“MORTGAGEIT”). The Government’s lawsuit, filed May 3, 2011, sought damages and civil penalties under the False Claims Act for repeated false certifications to HUD in connection with the residential mortgage origination practices of MORTGAGEIT, a wholly-owned subsidiary of DEUTSCHE BANK AG since 2007. The suit alleges approximately a decade of misconduct in connection with MORTGAGEIT’s participation in the Federal Housing Administration’s (“FHA’s”) Direct Endorsement Lender Program (“DEL program”), which delegates authority to participating private lenders to endorse mortgages for FHA insurance. Among other things, the suit accused the defendants of having submitted false certifications to HUD, including false certifications that MORTGAGEIT was originating mortgages in compliance with HUD rules when in fact it was not. In the settlement announced today, MORTGAGEIT and DEUTSCHE BANK admitted, acknowledged, and accepted responsibility for certain conduct alleged in the Complaint, including that, contrary to the representations in MORTGAGEIT’s annual certifications, MORTGAGEIT did not conform to all applicable HUD-FHA regulations. MORTGAGEIT also admitted that it submitted certifications to HUD stating that certain loans were eligible for FHA mortgage insurance when in fact they were not; that FHA insured certain loans endorsed by MORTGAGEIT that were not eligible for FHA mortgage insurance; and that HUD consequently incurred losses when some of those MORTGAGEIT loans defaulted. The defendants also agreed to pay $202.3 million to the United States to resolve the Government’s claims for damages and penalties under the False Claims Act. The settlement was approved today by United States District Judge Lewis Kaplan.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara stated: “MORTGAGEIT and DEUTSCHE BANK treated FHA insurance as free Government money to backstop lending practices that did not follow the rules. Participation in the Direct Endorsement Lender program comes with requirements that are not mere technicalities to be circumvented through subterfuge as these defendants did repeatedly over the course of a decade. Their failure to meet these requirements caused substantial losses to the Government – losses that could have and should have been avoided. In addition to their admissions of responsibility, Deutsche Bank and MortgageIT have agreed to pay damages in an amount that will significantly compensate HUD for the losses it incurred as a result of the defendants’ actions.”

Acting Assistant Attorney General Stuart F. Delery stated: “This is an important settlement for the United States, both in terms of obtaining substantial reimbursement for the FHA insurance fund for wrongfully incurred claims, and in obtaining the defendants’ acceptance of their role in the losses they caused to the taxpayers.”

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www.justice.gov/usao/nys/pressreleases/may12/deutschebankmortgageitsettlement.html                  1/45/16/12                  USDOJ: US Attorney’s Office – Southern District of New York

HUD General Counsel Helen Kanovsky stated: “This case demonstrates that HUD has the ability to identify fraud patterns and work with our partners at the Department of Justice and U.S. Attorney’s Offices to pursue appropriate remedies. HUD would like to commend the work of the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York in achieving this settlement, which is a substantial recovery for the FHA mortgage insurance fund. We look forward to continuing our joint efforts with the Department of Justice and the SDNY to combat mortgage fraud. The mortgage industry should take notice that we will not sit silently by if we detect abuses in our programs.”

HUD Inspector General David A. Montoya stated: “We expect every Direct Endorsement Lender to adhere to the highest level of integrity and accountability. When the combined efforts and attention of the Department of Justice, HUD, and HUD OIG are focused upon those who fail to exercise such integrity in connection with HUD programs, the end result will be both unpleasant and costly to the offending party.”

The following allegations are based on the Complaint and Amended Complaint (the “Complaint”) filed in Manhattan federal court by the Government in this case:

Between 1999 and 2009, MORTGAGEIT was a participant in the DEL program, a federal program administered by the FHA. As a Direct Endorsement Lender, MORTGAGEIT had the authority to originate, underwrite, and endorse mortgages for FHA insurance. If a Direct Endorsement Lender approves a mortgage loan for FHA insurance and the loan later defaults, the holder of the loan may submit an insurance claim to HUD for the costs associated with the defaulted loan, which HUD must then pay. Under the DEL program, neither the FHA nor HUD reviews a loan before it is endorsed for FHA insurance. Direct Endorsement Lenders are therefore required to follow program rules designed to ensure that they are properly underwriting and endorsing mortgages for FHA insurance and maintaining a quality control program that can prevent and correct any deficiencies in their underwriting. These requirements include maintaining a quality control program, pursuant to which the lender must fully review all loans that go into default within the first six payments, known as “early payment defaults.” Early payment defaults may be signs of problems in the underwriting process, and by reviewing early payment defaults, Direct Endorsement Lenders are able to monitor those problems, correct them, and report them to HUD. MORTGAGEIT failed to comply with these basic requirements.

As the Complaint further alleges, MORTGAGEIT was also required to execute certifications for every mortgage loan that it endorsed for FHA insurance. Since 1999, MORTGAGEIT has endorsed more than 39,000 mortgages for FHA insurance, and FHA paid insurance claims on more than 3,200 mortgages, totaling more than $368 million, for mortgages endorsed for FHA insurance by MORTGAGEIT, including more than $58 million resulting from loans that defaulted after DEUTSCHE BANK AG acquired MORTGAGEIT in 2007.

As alleged in the Complaint, a portion of those losses was caused by the false statements that the defendants made to HUD to obtain FHA insurance on individual loans. Although MORTGAGEIT had certified that each of these loans was eligible for FHA insurance, it repeatedly submitted certifications that were knowingly or recklessly false. MORTGAGEIT failed to perform basic due diligence and repeatedly endorsed mortgage loans that were not eligible for FHA insurance.

The Complaint also alleges that MORTGAGEIT separately certified to HUD, on an annual basis, that it was in compliance with the rules governing its eligibility in the DEL program, including that it conduct a full review of all early payment defaults, as early payment defaults are indicators of mortgage fraud. Contrary to its certifications to HUD, MORTGAGEIT failed to implement a compliant quality control program, and failed to review all early payment defaults as required. In addition, the Complaint alleges that, after DEUTSCHE BANK acquired MORTGAGEIT in January 2007, DEUTSCHE BANK managed the quality control functions of the Direct Endorsement Lender business, and had its employees sign and submit MORTGAGEIT’s Direct Endorsement Lender annual certifications to HUD. Furthermore, by the end of 2007, MORTGAGEIT was not reviewing any early payment defaults on closed FHA-insured loans. Between 1999 and 2009, the FHA paid more than $92 million in FHA insurance claims for loans that defaulted within the first six payments.

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Pursuant to the settlement, MORTGAGEIT and the DEUTSCHE BANK defendants will pay the United States $202.3 million within 30 days of the settlement.

As part of the settlement, the defendants admitted, acknowledged, and accepted responsibility for certain misconduct. Specifically,

MORTGAGEIT admitted, acknowledged, and accepted responsibility for the following:

www.justice.gov/usao/nys/pressreleases/may12/deutschebankmortgageitsettlement.html                  2/4

5/16/12                  USDOJ: US Attorney’s Office – Southern District of New York

MORTGAGEIT failed to conform fully to HUD-FHA rules requiring Direct Endorsement Lenders to maintain a compliant quality control program;

MORTGAGEIT failed to conduct a full review of all early payment defaults on loans endorsed for FHA insurance;

Contrary to the representations in MORTGAGEIT’s annual certifications, MORTGAGEIT did not conform to all applicable HUD-FHA regulations;

MORTGAGEIT endorsed for FHA mortgage insurance certain loans that did not meet all underwriting requirements contained in HUD’s handbooks and mortgagee letters, and therefore were not eligible for FHA mortgage insurance under the DEL program; and;

MORTGAGEIT submitted to HUD-FHA certifications stating that certain loans were eligible for FHA mortgage insurance when in fact they were not; FHA insured certain loans endorsed by MORTGAGEIT that were not eligible for FHA mortgage insurance; and HUD consequently incurred losses when some of those MORTGAGEIT loans defaulted.

The DEUTSCHE BANK defendants admitted, acknowledged, and accepted responsibility for the fact that after MORTGAGEIT became a wholly-owned, indirect subsidiary of DB Structured Products, Inc and Deutsche Bank AG in January 2007:

The DEUTSCHE BANK defendants were in a position to know that the operations of MORTGAGEIT did not conform fully to all of HUD-FHA’s regulations, policies, and handbooks;

One or more of the annual certifications was signed by an individual who was also an officer of certain of the DEUTSCHE BANK defendants; and;

Contrary to the representations in MORTGAGEIT’s annual certifications, MORTGAGEIT did not conform to all applicable HUD-FHA regulations.

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The case is being handled by the Office’s Civil Frauds Unit. Mr. Bharara established the Civil Frauds Unit in March 2010 to bring renewed focus and additional resources to combating financial fraud, including mortgage fraud.

To date, the Office’s Civil Frauds Unit has brought four civil fraud lawsuits against major lenders under the False Claims Act alleging reckless residential mortgage lending.

Three of the four cases have settled, and today’s settlement represents the third, and largest, settlement. On February 15, 2012, the Government settled its civil fraud lawsuit against CITIMORTGAGE, INC. for $158.3 million. On February 24, 2012, the Government settled its civil fraud suit against FLAGSTAR BANK, F.S.B. for $132.8 million. The Government’s lawsuit against ALLIED HOME MORTGAGE CORP. and two of its officers remains pending. With today’s settlement, the Government has achieved settlements totaling $493.4 million in the last three months. In each settlement, the defendants have admitted and accepted responsibility for certain conduct alleged in the Government’s Complaint.

The Office’s Civil Frauds Unit is handling all three cases as part of its continuing investigation of reckless lending practices.

The Civil Frauds Unit works in coordination with President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, on which Mr. Bharara serves as a Co-Chair of the Securities and Commodities Fraud Working Group. President Obama established the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to wage an aggressive, coordinated, and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes.

Mr. Bharara thanked HUD and HUD-OIG for their extraordinary assistance in this case. He also expressed his appreciation for the support of the Commercial Litigation Branch of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Division in Washington, D.C.

www.justice.gov/usao/nys/pressreleases/may12/deutschebankmortgageitsettlement.html                  3/4

5/16/12                  USDOJ: US Attorney’s Office – Southern District of New York

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lara K. Eshkenazi, Pierre G. Armand, and Christopher B. Harwood are in charge of the case.

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