BOA Settlements: $70 Billion and Counting

From www.housingwire.com —

Reuters published an article on the situation late Friday, BofA settles claims of “misleading shareholders about its exposure to risky mortgage securities and its dependence on an electronic mortgage registry known as MERS.”

So, yes, it’s just another settlement for BofA, which is probably really used to this kind of development.

“The bank has spent more than $70 billion since the financial crisis to resolve legal and regulatory matters, including those tied to its purchases of Countrywide in July 2008 and Merrill Lynch & Co six months later,” the article states.

So here are my questions:

  1. Where is BOA getting the money to pay for these settlements, fines and damages?
  2. We have many billions of dollars of reported settlements with “investors.” (and probably a lot more unreported “off-balance sheet” settlements). How are the proceeds of these settlements allocated if the investors are the end parties in interest on the alleged loans and pass through certificates. If they have been paid, is that reflected in the ending balance of individual loans? If not, why not?
  3. If the loan balances have indeed been paid down by “settlements” why is it so difficult to get principal reductions which would only reflect the fact that the creditors have already been made whole or at least partially paid?
  4. If the loans have been paid off in whole or in part, who is getting the excess and why — in the case of foreclosures and simply collections? The way this is playing out it seems that the investors are getting hush money while the banks pursue the huge rewards of getting “recovery” of servicer advances they never paid out of their own money and loan money that they never advanced out of their money or credit.
  5. Have the pass through certificate holders assigned their rights to the banks that pay them settlements? If not, why are the servicers taking most of the proceeds of a foreclosure sale?

The fundamental problem here is that the courts have been loathe to get into the complex world of financial instruments. The courts would rather simplify the matter even if it leads to the wrong result. So let’s simplify in another way. Is it right to allow the perpetrators of a fraud upon investors to reap the benefits of their fraud? Why does the “free house” myth even come in to play when the creditors have been paid and the intermediaries are soaking up everything in sight without expending a dime on the loan origination or the loan acquisition?

And then the real question — on whose behalf are these foreclosures being filed? Is it the empty trust that never operated? Is it the pass through certificate holders in the empty trust that never operated? Or is it the servicers and other conduits and sham corporations and entities who want virtually the entire proceeds of a foreclosure sale?

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