Lehman to Pay $2.4 Billion out of Bankrupt Estate

“Lehman’s own documents show it was aware of the widespread problems and deteriorating performance of the loans it had securitized,” with half the loans at one point containing material misrepresentations, the trustees said in a court filing.

Editor’s Note: The difference is money — investors have it and borrower’s don’t. So while investors are successfully litigating fraud and deceit, the borrowers can’t afford to litigate the same issues. The idea that Lehman was somehow honest with borrowers and not with investors is preposterous.

Lehman recently closed out a $2 billion dispute with Citigroup Inc. over derivatives, and similar litigation over derivatives with Credit Suisse Group AG is the last major remaining contest.

Around 14 large institutional holders, including Goldman Sachs Asset Management LP and BlackRock Financial Management, broke ranks with hedge funds and accepted a settlement last year valuing claims around $2.4 billion. Chapman noted that these “sophisticated players” held around 24 percent of the RMBS.

GO TO LENDINGLIES to order forms and services

Let us help you plan your answers, affirmative defenses, discovery requests and defense narrative:

954-451-1230 or 202-838-6345. Ask for a Consult. You will make things a lot easier on us and yourself if you fill out the registration form. It’s free without any obligation. No advertisements, no restrictions.

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Get a Consult and TERA (Title & Encumbrances Analysis and & Report) 954-451-1230 or 202-838-6345. The TERA replaces and greatly enhances the former COTA (Chain of Title Analysis, including a one page summary of Title History and Gaps).

GO TO WWW.LENDINGLIES.COM OR https://www.vcita.com/v/lendinglies to schedule CONSULT, leave message or make payments. It’s better than calling!

THIS ARTICLE IS NOT A LEGAL OPINION UPON WHICH YOU CAN RELY IN ANY INDIVIDUAL CASE. HIRE A LAWYER.

===========================

See Lehman Brothers Knew 1/2 the loans were misrepresented to both borrowers and investors

The trustees representing RMBS holders are Deutsche Bank National Trust Co., Law Debenture Trust Co. of New York, U.S. Bank National Association and Wilmington Trust Co., according to court papers.

A group of hedge funds, including Whitebox Advisors LLC, Deer Park Road Management Co. and Tilden Park Capital Management LP, was formed in 2016, and expanded in May 2017 to include Prophet Capital Management LP, Tricadia Capital Management LLC, BlueMountain Capital Management LLC and others, according to court records.

The case is In re Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., 08-13555, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan.)

Practice note: Dig into the pleadings and exhibits in these cases and you will find a treasure trove of information that supports your contention at trial that the documents are unreliable and therefore the proof of the matters asserted must be proven with facts, not assumptions. You will probably uncover inconsistent allegations from Deutsch, Credit Suisse et al. They are most likely saying one thing in court with borrowers and another in court with investors.

An important note here is that these actions are based upon the presumptive finding of the US Bankruptcy trustee as to Lehman misrepresentations.

 

 

Investigator Bill Paatalo: Nationstar Conducts “Bulk Note Sales” Without The “Notes?”

In 2013, investors in six “RALI Series” Trusts filed a complaint in New York against their Master Servicer (Nationstar Mortgage, LLC) for conducting “Bulk Note Sales” of non-performing loans owned by the trusts for its own benefit; specifically to recoup upwards of a billion-dollars worth of servicing advance receivables. The Plaintiff / Investors accused Nationstar of conducting these “Bulk Note Sales” without having any ownership or requisite authority to do so. (See: KIRP LLC V Nationstar Mortgage LLC).

Per the complaint:

“INTRODUCTION
1. KIRP is a significant investor in certificates issued by six residential mortgage backed security trusts sponsored by Residential Accredit Loans, Inc. (the “RALI Trusts”).  KIRP brings this action against Nationstar, the Master Servicer for the RALI Trusts, for its liquidating loans owned by the trusts through on-line auctions at fire sale prices without authorization and in  blatant abdication of its servicing duties under the governing contracts.
2. As the Master Servicer, the RALI Trusts pay Nationstar to “service” the mortgage loans owned by the trusts in the best interests of the trusts and their certificateholders.  This includes working to maximize the recoveries on each of the mortgage loans through enumerated actions detailed in Pooling and Servicing Agreements (the “Servicing Agreements”), which set forth the Master Servicer’s duties.  However, rather than fulfilling its responsibilities to maximize recoveries, Nationstar has recently embarked on a campaign to benefit its own interests at the expense of the RALI Trusts and their certificateholders, through auctioning off the trusts’ mortgage loans in bulk (“Bulk Note Sales”) for amounts that are a fraction of the loans’ unpaid balances or the value of the properties securing the loans.  While these Bulk Note Sales injure KIRP and the RALI Trusts’ other certificateholders by dissipating the assets of the RALI Trusts, they provide multiple benefits to Nationstar, including through allowing them to more quickly recoup certain advances they made on the mortgage loans as part of their servicing duties.  KIRP seeks to enjoin Nationstar from engaging in any further Bulk Note Sales in breach of its duties and to recover damages for the Bulk Note Sales that have already occurred.”
      When I read this complaint, a couple questions immediately jumped out at me regarding the so-called “notes” being auctioned off by a party that doesn’t own said notes. What did Nationstar disclose to the “purchasers” at auction as to their rights to sell the notes? And, were the “original notes” actually delivered to the bulk-sale purchasers by Nationstar as a non-owner of the notes?
 I went to the SEC and located the 424(B)(5) Prospectus filing for one of the named trusts in the lawsuit (RALI 2006-QO1). (See: http://www.secinfo.com/dsvRa.vC1.htm#7fll).
Here’s what the Trust disclosed as to the custody of the loan files on P.S-108:

Custodial Arrangements                                                          

      The trustee will appoint Wells Fargo Bank,  N.A., to 
serve as custodian of the mortgage  loans.  The  custodian is 
not an affiliate of the  depositor,  the master servicer or the 
sponsor. No servicer will have custodial  responsibility for 
the mortgage loans.  The custodian  will maintain mortgage 
loan files that contain  originals of the notes,  mortgages,  
assignments and allonges in vaults located at the sponsor's 
premises in Minnesota. Only the custodian has access to these 
vaults. A shelving and filing system segregates the files 
relating to the mortgage loans from other assets serviced 
by the master servicer.

 

 

      If Nationstar had no authority per the trust instruments to sell, liquidate, and convert the notes for its own personal gain, it’s hard to believe that Wells Fargo would release the “original” notes in bulk to Nationstar for these purposes. The likely scenario is that the bulk purchasers were delivered copies of the notes from Nationstar’s servicing system that were pawned off as “originals.”
     This goes to the heart of what I have suspected for years now in regards to these “bulk non-performing loan purchases” by debt buyers. The “Sellers” often have no rights to sell these loans, and the “Buyers” are purchasing bogus collateral files with no “original notes” and no verifiable chains of title.
 Judge Mosman Quote - Re-Default and Authentic Note
Contact Investigator Bill Paatalo at www.bpinvestigationagency.com
Private Investigator
BP Investigative Agency, LLC
bill.bpia@gmail.com

Trump’s nominee for OCC post meets resistance due to One West Fraud Settlement

https://www.revealnews.org/blog/trumps-nominee-for-banking-post-meets-resistance-due-to-fraud-settlement/

Federal Judge Compels Nationstar To Produce (False) Modification / Accounting Records

 http://bpinvestigativeagency.com/federal-judge-compels-nationstar-to-produce-false-modification-accounting-records/

Over the past couple of years, having investigated cases involving “Nationstar” as servicer in various cases throughout the country, a pattern has developed involving “Capitalization Modifications” on loans without borrowers’ knowledge or consent. Before I detail some of this evidence, here is a description of “Loan Modification and Refinance Fraud” and “Mortgage Servicing Fraud” provided at www.FFIEC.gov.

Per the Federal Financial Institutions Fraud Investigations Symposium’s 2009 “White Paper” titled, “The Detection and Deterrence of Mortgage Fraud Against Financial Institutions:  A White Paper,” (See: https://www.ffiec.gov/exam/mtg_fraud_wp_feb2010.pdf) the following is provided on P.27:

“Loan Modification and Refinance Fraud

With respect to any mortgage loan, a loan modification3 is a revision to the contractual payment terms of the related mortgage note, agreed to by the servicer and borrower, including, without limitation, the following:

  1. Capitalization of any amounts owed by adding such amount to the outstanding principal balance.

3 American Securitization Forum: Recommended Definitions and Investor Reporting Standards for Modifications of Securitized Residential Mortgage Loans, December 2007″

P.31:

“Mortgage Servicing Fraud

Mortgage servicing typically includes, but is not limited to, billing the borrower; collecting principal, interest, and escrow payments; management of escrow accounts; disbursing funds from the escrow account to pay taxes and insurance premiums; and forwarding funds to an owner or investor (if the loan has been sold in the secondary market).  A mortgage service provider is typically paid on a fee basis.  Mortgage servicing can be performed by a financial institution or outsourced to a third party servicer or sub-servicer.

Mortgage servicing fraud generally involves the diversion or misuse of principal and interest payments, loan prepayments, and/or escrow funds for the benefit of the service provider.”

Recently, I conducted an investigation for a client in Michigan which revealed that the servicer (Nationstar) was reporting to the investors of a REMIC trust that the loan/debt received a “Capitalization Modification” in the midst of foreclosure proceedings, and just prior to the Sheriff’s Sale of the property. (This isn’t the first time I have uncovered this fact pattern.)  This was news to the client, as she was never aware or privy to any such modification. With my client’s permission, the following excerpts are from my report:

“Attached within the loan level data zip File is a file titled “.MOD” which reveals the details of the modification as follows:

Modified Loan amount – $177,466.94

Loan Status – Current

Effective distribution Date – 03/25/2014

Capitalization – Y – (“Yes”)

Scheduled Balance = $180,134.10

Actual Balance – $180,400.81

Pre-Mod P&I – 963.46

Post-Mod P&I – $1,016.74

Capitalization amount – $2,667.11

These numbers are clearly inconsistent with the amounts declared in the default notices. In the Notice of Sale recorded on July 10, 2013, the amount declared as “unpaid” was “$251,943.71.” This is approx. $72k more than the amount shown internally a year later. The data shows that the loan/debt balance was in decline at the time of the Notice, and thus there was no default to the certificateholders of the FHAMS 2006-FA4 Trust. The monthly remittance report file for July 2013 (.REM1307) shows a “Beginning Balance of $170,259.75″ and “Ending Balance of $170,003.00.”

In addition, the Sheriff’s Deed dated April 2, 2014 states that the Trust was the highest bidder for “269,870.20.” This amount was approx. $100k more than the balance owed to the certificateholders at that time. The Covenant Deed issued on December 17, 2014 to “[REDACTED]” states that this party paid “$108,150.00″ for the purchase of the property. No such payments in either the Sheriff’s Deed or Covenant Deed are reflected in the remittance reports for the subject loan. In fact, attached within the loan level data is the “Loss File” titled “.LOS.” This filed shows the loan/debt was “paid off” on 01/25/2015 in the amount of “$180,400.80.” This number does not match-up with the deeds. This file shows continued amounts being applied to the loan/debt each month after the sale which means the account remained active after the sale right up until June 2016.”

As a result of these findings, a Motion to Compel was filed and granted on behalf of my client. (See: ecf143-order-on-mot-compel-modification-advances-by-nationstar).

Per the Order:

“IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that defendant shall produce remittance reports as to the two loans in question only, limited to the time period when Nationstar was acting as servicer on those loans, within 28 days of the date of this order.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that defendant will provide complete answers as described on the record to Interrogatory Nos. 6 and 7 within 28 days of the date of this order.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that defendant will produce copies of unredacted and redacted documents provided to plaintiff within seven days to determine whether attorney/client and/or attorney work product privileges were properly claimed.”

Here’s the Discovery Requests referred to in the Order. (See: discovery-requests-motion-to-compel-michigan-craigie)

There appear to be many layers to this servicing fraud scheme, one of which is the likely collection of modification stipends from the federal government for each reported modification. In this subject case, the borrower had no knowledge of any “Capitalization Modification” while the investors likely had no knowledge of any default by the borrower due to the advance payments and the reporting of the modification. After all, just prior to the Sheriff’s Sale, the loan was reporting as “current.”

This is why it is very important to have an investigation conducted to see what exactly is being reported in the internal loan level data to the investors. If these “false modifications” by Nationstar were legally on the “up and up,” there shouldn’t be this type of push-back.

Stay tuned for Nationstar’s response.  Investigator Bill Paatalo will join Neil Garfield on the next Neil Garfield Radio program to discuss his findings.

http://bpinvestigativeagency.com/federal-judge-compels-nationstar-to-produce-false-modification-accounting-records/

If you need assistance finding the issues in your mortgage documentation you can reach Investigator Bill Paatalo at:

Bill Paatalo – Private Investigator – OR PSID#49411

BP Investigative Agency

“Forensic “Securitization” Auditing, Chain of Title Analysis, Legal Support Services, Bonded & Insured”

Email: Bill.bpia@gmail.com

Call: (406) 328-4075

The Lehman Moment: The “Normalization” of Fraud

http://www.standard.net/Business/2016/09/15/The-reason-the-Lehman-moment-still-is-with-us
Barry Ritholtz

Sept. 15 is the eighth anniversary of the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy. Not enough time has passed yet for me to recall those anxious days without getting angry.

 Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, has used the occasion of this anniversary to suggest the next administration should “investigate and jail” those Wall Street bankers who committed crimes. Although I doubt there will be any perp walks, I do have some ideas about how to proceed.

Before we look into the senator’s suggestion, it is time for an honest appraisal of one of the lingering mysteries of the financial crisis: Why were there were no prosecutions of major executives?

It’s a fair question. I believe there were 10 areas where fraud and abuse took place. These were the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems; mortgage pools; securitization; “misplaced” mortgage notes; force-placed insurance; servicing fees; fake documents; false affidavits, perjury and robo-signing; foreclosure mills; and active military members losing homes while on duty.

I am convinced that these cases were easy to prosecute, that a first-year law student would have a 90 percent conviction rate, that the documentary evidence was overwhelming, especially of mortgage and foreclosure fraud. As we know, there were no prosecutions of any significance — not at the state level, not at a federal level.

After much research, I have come to believe that at the highest levels of government, the financial industry managed to convince prosecutors that it was against societal interests to bust bankers. The revolving door between government and the private sector, between regulators and regulated, figures in this. If you’re a prosecutor, but you might like a big payday from business, do you really want to go hard on the companies that might offer you a job one day?

The bigger problem has been the normalization of fraud. We found out in 2008 that Department of Justice prosecutions and Securities and Exchange Commission enforcement actions against Wall Street had fallen 87 percent. Before you blame the George W. Bush administration, that same lack of prosecutorial zeal continued under the administration of Barack Obama.

On the anniversary of Lehman’s collapse, it is worth recalling just how blatant some of the misdeeds were, and the surprising lack of prosecution for the bank’s accounting improprieties. Of course, among the leading example was something called Repo 105, which involved moving billions of dollars in liabilities off the firm’s balance sheet near the end of each reporting quarter, then putting them back on the books a few days later. The maneuver hid enormous financial weakness. As far as I’m concerned, this was fraud plain and simple, a conclusion supported in the report by the court-appointed Lehman bankruptcy examiner.

Beyond Lehman Brothers, Warren will find the ripest area for prosecution in improper foreclosures. Fraud was rampant; every robo-signed document was an act of perjury; every fabricated signature was fraud. I suspect there were thousands of low-level bank employees guilty of these crimes, and they could be pressured into revealing those responsible further up the food chain. I doubt it was the chief executives who ordered these actions, and the ideas certainly didn’t come from the burger flippers recently hired to work in the foreclosure factories. It was senior bankers who came up with a way to institutionalize perjury.

How and why prosecutors fell down on the job is an area the senator might consider exploring. Maybe take a closer look at the revolving door and issues of regulatory capture. At the very least we still need a dogged probe of the financial crisis like that done by the Pecora Commission, which examined the causes of the 1929 Crash.

This would bring closure, and hopefully move us past the alternative of never-ending scandals and fines. And if you think things have changed, just consider the latest scandal: the thousands of Wells Fargo employees who opened millions of fake accounts in the names of real customers, just to meet unrealistic sales goals. It is more evidence that bad incentives are rampant in the financial industry and top executives either look the other way or that they don’t know what’s going on in the companies they run — a sign, if nothing else, that big banks are too big to manage.

Justice has not yet been served. The time left to see it done is almost over, with less than two years remaining on the longest statutes of limitations. I am not holding my breath.

_ Ritholtz, a Bloomberg View columnist, is the founder of Ritholtz Wealth Management. He is a consultant at and former chief executive officer for FusionIQ, a quantitative research firm.

For more columns from Bloomberg View, visit http://www.bloomberg.com/view.

Mortgages: Weapons of Middle-Class Mass Destruction

PITCHFORK AND HOUSE

By the Lending Lies Team

http://www.zillow.com/research/foreclosures-and-wealth-inequality-12523/

Losing your home by foreclosure to a bank that used fabricated documents to foreclose is a tragedy that has tainted the American dream for millions of Americans. The process is unjust, unlawful and dehumanizing. But even years after the former homeowner has moved forward with their lives they sustain another injury they are probably not even aware of- and that is the loss of rebound gains in the market.

Oddly, homes that are foreclosed on tend to gain value back at a higher rate than properties that have not been previously foreclosed according to real estate website Zillow who conducted research on the matter.  Former owners missed out on potential profits generated by the “recovery” and therefore sustained even more financial harm. Instead, the profits went to governmental agencies, GSEs (Fannie/Freddie), hedge funds, investors and flippers who bought these properties for pennies on the dollar.

In the Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach, homes that were foreclosed had a 79 percent increase in price from the market’s lowest point. The research also shows that the homes that were foreclosed upon were the homes of lower-income people and young families.

These families who were illegally foreclosed upon were thrust into an inflated renters market where they likely secured accommodations that were inferior to the living conditions of the home they lost and even less affordable. The prior owner lost their down payment, any equity and any appreciation in home value. Many of these families may never recover from the financial slaughter they suffered.

“You had a ton of appreciation for these foreclosed homes, but the [prior] homeowners weren’t getting the benefits,” said Svenja Gudell, Zillow’s chief economist. “Lower-end and foreclosed homes were bought up by investors who would transform those homes into rental properties. … Had they held onto their home in many markets, homeowners would’ve made back their original investment plus much more.” The foreclosure crisis has contributed to the massive wealth gap that has evolved since the 2008 market crash.

Even more concerning are the actions of the Veteran’s Association that guarantees the loans of United States service members who obtain VA-guaranteed mortgages. The VA is not assisting veterans who served their country to retain their homes when default threatens. In fact, the VA is known to foreclose on the homes of veterans for pennies on the dollar, evict the veteran, hold the property and then sell the property at a large profit.

Recently the Lending Lies team learned of a veteran with health issues caused by Agent Orange exposure. The VA foreclosed on his home that had a remaining balance of 7k. The VA held the property for a year and then sold the home for over 100k. The displaced veteran who had paid on his home for decades did not share in the profits the VA made from the sale of his home.

Homeowners have the potential to be damaged at three different junctions during  their loan: at closing, during default, and post-default. The homeowner is damaged at closing when they receive a table funded loan, there is no disclosure regarding WHO the true creditor is, and they are not told that they are signing a Note that is actually a security and not a mortgage. The homeowner does not receive disclosure that investors will make millions of dollars from the homeowner’s signature and is not told that he/she will carry all of the risk when the game of securitization is put into play.

A homeowner may be damaged during the term of their loan by the loan servicer who is looking for an opportunity to create a default so they can foreclose on the home. The homeowner may be given erroneous information by the servicer or may not receive service to resolve an issue that may occur during the life of the loan. The servicer may create a default by misapplying payments, inflating the balance by applying illegal fees, and other tactics to engineer a default. When a homeowner facing default contacts their loan servicer looking for assistance, the homeowner is not engaging with a servicer who is looking to find a solution.  Instead, the homeowner is dealing with an agent who is trained to find the homeowner’s Achilles heel in which to exploit and create a default.

At this point the homeowner in default will experience the Foreclosure Machine where documents disappear into ether or magically transform, bank presidents have G.E.D’s, and due process means you had your three minutes in front of a judge. The majority of homeowners caught up in this stage of foreclosure will gladly do anything to end their misery. Despite their knowledge that the servicer foreclosing has no standing- the wounded homeowner may prefer to chew off their own arm to escape the clutches of attorneys, motions, and bank intimidation.  This is the stage where the homeowner should refuse to back down and dig in their heels, but the majority flee.

After the homeowner has lost their home to an entity who had no standing to foreclose, the homeowner will suffer further economic decimation. The vultures who made millions off of the economic destruction of the American middle and lower-middle class will become their landlord. While the tenant works to make his monthly rental payment and is not building any equity, the landlord will sit back and collect the passive income while the foreclosed property appreciates at 18% plus a year.

Can there be any doubt that taking out a home mortgage from a mega-bank is not a method of middle-class mass destruction?  Caveat Emptor.

 

U.S. v BofA: Countrywide Eliminated Underwriting Standards

EDITOR’S NOTE:  The complaint below is from the United States Atty. for the Southern District of New York gives us a clear picture of the processing of loans without any underwriting standards at Countrywide and other aggregators across the country. The complaint is not authority, but it is a guide for what you can allege and what you can ask about in discovery.

It is time to ask the nuclear question, to wit: in light of the revelations that are already in the public domain with dozens of whistleblowers, is it not reasonable to assume that the aggregators not only knew about fabricated, forged and inaccurate loan applications, but actually intended that result. I ask that question because of the number of attempted prosecutions of people for mortgage fraud, when mortgage fraud was exactly what Countrywide wanted.  They clearly wanted the highest possible volume of loans approved under circumstances where it can only be assumed that they wanted those loans to fail, in order to be paid by insurers, counterparties on credit default swaps, the federal government in bailouts and now the Federal Reserve which appears to be  buying $85 billion in worthless mortgage bonds from the financial industry every month.

  Thus Wall Street collected money from the investors (and took a share of that and put it in their pocket), collected money from borrowers (and took a share of that and put it in their pocket), collected money from insurers which went only into their pockets, collected money from the proceeds of credit default swaps which went only into their pockets,  collected money from the government in the bank bailouts, collected money from the government sponsored entities who guarantee the loans, and are collecting money from the Federal Reserve who are buying worthless mortgage bonds which have little or no interest in any secured loan, residential or otherwise. On top of all of that Wall Street has taken the homes of more than 5 million families and is expected to take the homes of another 5 million families —  supposedly to cover the “loss”  on mortgage bonds they never owned and mortgage loans they never owned.

And then you have the real question, to wit: why would banks create a scheme that originated loans, most of which were destined to fail in one fashion or another? And the answer is unavoidable and incontestable: they did it because that was the way they could make the most money.

And then the second real question, to wit: why would banks want foreclosures but not want the property?  And the related question is why would they want a foreclosure under circumstances where a modification would produce far greater proceeds to mitigate the loss on a loan that a foreclosure? And the related question to that is why would the largest bank in the world adopt a policy of fraud in order to guide people into foreclosure deceiving them into thinking that they were getting a modification? And the final question related to all of that is why with the modification not become permanent after the borrower has done everything correctly during the trial period?  The answer is extremely simple: the foreclosure process is the largest cover-up in history for the largest economic crime in history; it provides cover for all of the defects, multiple payments that were already received and never disclosed, and the diversion of money and property from investors and homeowners.

Here are some relevant allegations in the complaint:

HUSTLE: A PLAN TO DESTROY HOMEOWNERS AND DEFRAUD INVESTORS: The U.S. Government in its complaint filed against Bank of America details the specific ways in which Countrywide was operating when loans were originated.

“Countrywide rolled out a new streamlined loan origination model is called the “hustle.”

In order to increase the speed at which it originated and sold loans to the GSES,  countrywide eliminated every significant checkpoint on loan quality and compensated its employees solely based on the volume of loans originated, leading to rampant instances of fraud and other serious lung defects all while countrywide was informing the GSES that it had tightened its underwriting guidelines.”

Countrywide eliminated underwriter review even from many high risk loans. In lieu of underwriter review, countrywide assigned critical underwriting tasks to loan processors who were previously considered unqualified even to answer borrower questions. At the same time, countrywide or eliminated previously mandatory checklists that provided instructions on how to perform these underwriting tasks. Under the Hustle, such instructions on proper underwriting were considered nothing more than unnecessary forms that would slow the swim lane down.

Countrywide also eliminated the position of compliance specialist, an individual previously responsible for conducting a final, independent check on alone to ensure that all conditions on the loans approval were satisfied prior to funding.

The Hustle began in full force in approximately August 2007.

Countrywide also concealed the quality control reports on Hustle loans demonstrating that instances of fraud and other material defects (i.e. defects making the loans in eligible for investors sell) were legion. Countrywide’s own quality control reports identified material defect rate of nearly 40% in certain months, rates that were nearly 10 times the industry-standard defect rate of approximately 4%.

U.S. v. BOA False Claims Act complaint, SDNY 10-25-2012

ENCORE BANK v. BOA, NA (2013) Effective as of July 1, 2008, the parent company of BofA, Bank of America Corporation, acquired the parent corporation of Countrywide, Countrywide Financial Corporatio

 

Look Who Got thrown Under the Bus for Criminal Prosecution on Banking Crisis

“Furthermore, evidence of the DocX forgery and fabrication process could be used to reach even higher. Who directly solicited the company for fake documents? The foreclosure mill law firms, which then knowingly submitted them into courts. Who directed the foreclosure mills to do that? The mortgage servicers, which are typically units of the biggest banks. Furthermore, there’s no reason to ever request the “entire collateral file” unless you have no other way to generate evidence to prove underlying ownership of the loan. This speaks to a faulty mortgage transfer process, improper securitizations, and generally fraudulent practices at the heart of Wall Street.”

CHECK OUT OUR EXTENDED DECEMBER SPECIAL!

What’s the Next Step? Consult with Neil Garfield

For assistance with presenting a case for wrongful foreclosure, please call 520-405-1688, customer service, who will put you in touch with an attorney in the states of Florida, Tennessee, Georgia, California, Ohio, and Nevada. (NOTE: Chapter 11 may be easier than you think).

Editor’s Comment: In a very good piece written by David Dayen for Salon.com (see link below), he takes the government and the bankers to task for masquerading under the “rule of law” while actually undermining it — something that consumers and homeowners have instinctively known for decades.

The general consensus of those in government and on the bench is that they are so deathly afraid of giving a free house to a homeowner that they are willing to overlook criminal and civil misbehavior — leading to granting a free pass to those pretending to be lenders to get the free house.

Worse than that, we have established a climate that allows for the possibility of taking a crime to some indescribable level where it becomes somehow necessary to allow the crime to stand because of the “risk” posed to the rest of society. That Too Big To Fail thing came directly out of the proposition that if the big banks were allowed or forced to fold,  the credit markets would freeze up. So our government gave them even more money than the ill-gotten and well secreted money they made during the mortgage boom, under the supposition that those banks would start lending.

The reverse happened. People received notices in the mail informing them of decreases in their credit limit on credit cards, HELOCs, and cancellation of loan commitments on small businesses and real estate purchases. The outcome predicted by those on Wall Street as well as Hank Paulson, then Treasury Secretary to President Bush, was a massive recession with millions of jobs lost and a huge demographic of people who are working at jobs for less money requiring less of their their talents. Armageddon arrived and we managed to steer our way of of the roughest waters for the time being, but we also proved that the Too Big To Fail hypothesis was dead wrong.

So they have a scapegoat that they are going to send to prison without involving any of her superiors, affiliates or the actual conspirators who created LPS and DOCX. The case proves, however, that people CAN go to jail for these crimes and that the line we were fed about it not being illegal was incorrect or an outright lie. The truth, as we now know it, is that the actions of the banks were a total fraud and that many entities and companies and institutions aided and abetted the the most massive fraud in human history.

Thus the issue is no longer whether there is a case that can be made, proven and thus sending people to jail and ordering restitution to all the injured stakeholders. Instead the issue of who will get thrown under the bus so that nobody really “important” gets the adjoining prison cells.

The recession was her fault. Meet Wall Street’s scapegoat, the one person to get jail time for the most massive mortgage fraud in history. By David Dayen

“This scheme was part of the giant bundle of illegal conduct known as foreclosure fraud. According to statements of fact from the Justice Department, from 2003 to 2009 DocX recorded over one million fake documents. That’s probably a low number. DocX wasn’t just forging signatures, they were fabricating entire loan files. During the bubble years, they created a now-infamous mortgage fabrication price sheet, where mortgage servicers, who had trouble proving in court that they owned the homes they wanted to put into foreclosure, could purchase, at low prices, whatever documents they needed. To “Recreate Entire Collateral File,” basically the whole set of documents including the promissory note? That would set a servicer back $95.00.”

CORRUPTION OF TITLE CHAINS IS PANDEMIC

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Editor’s Notes:  

As we predicted more and more County recorder offices are suing to collect transfer fees on loans that have gone to foreclosure under the allegation that a valid loan and lien was transferred.  Expect other revenue collectors in the states to start doing the same for registration fees, taxes, interest, penalties and fines. This battle is just beginning. We are now about to enter the phase of finger pointing in which each type of defendant — bank, servicer, MERS, Fannie, Freddie etc. defends with varying exotic defenses that more or less point the finger at some other part of the securitization chain. 
The real story is that title chains have been irretrievably corrupted — which means that title cannot be established by using the documents alone. Parole evidence from witnesses and production of back-up documents must show the path of the loan and the proof that the transaction was real. Defenders of these lawsuits may be forced to admit that there was no actual financial transaction and that the assignments were assignments of “convenience” negating the reality of the transfer or of any transaction at all. 
Either way they are going to have a problem that can’t be fixed. They can’t prove up the documents because the documents are contrary to the path of monetary transactions and recite facts that are untrue —- in addition to the fact that the documents themselves were fabricated, forged, robo-signed and fraudulently presented. This is why I say that regardless of how hard anyone tries to do the wrong thing, the only right way to correct these problems is to negate the foreclosures that have already been concluded, stop the ones that are being conducted in the same way as the old way, and make them prove up their right to foreclose. They either must admit that there were not valid transactions — including the original note and mortgage — or they won’t be able to prove a valid transaction because the money came from sources other than those shown on the closing documents. 
The actual sources of the money loaned the money to borrowers without documentation believing they had the documentation. But the mere fact that borrowers signed documents is not an invitation for any stranger to imply that it was for their benefit. For these reasons the mortgage in most cases was never perfected into a valid lien and cannot be perfected without corrective instruments signed by the borrower or upon some order by a court. But the courts are going to be far more careful about the proof here. Most Judges are going to take the position that they could be fooled once when the foreclosure originally went through on the premise of valid documents and an actual financial transaction attached to THOSE documents, but that they won’t be fooled a a second time. They will demand proof. And proof according to the normal rules of evidence is completely lacking because the entire securitization chain was a lie from one end to the other.
The borrower will end up owing the money less offsets for payments received by the real creditor, once the identity of the real creditor is revealed, but the absence of a mortgage or deed of trust naming that actual creditor will void the mortgage and negate the credit bid at the auction.

Ohio lawsuit accuses Freddie Mac of fraud

by Tara Steele

The battle between Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and various government entities continues, each taking a different approach on the battlefield.

Freddie Mac sued by county in Ohio

Last year, Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems Inc. (MERS) became the subject of lawsuits from counties across the nation as District Attorneys allege the company never owned the loans they were facilitating foreclosures for, and in most cases, judges agree, and their authority to facilitate has been denied in several counties. Dallas County alleges the mortgage-tracking system violates Texas laws and shorted the county anywhere from $58 million to over $100 million in uncollected filing fees due to the MERS system, dating back to 1997.

Others sued MERS as well; in February, in the U.S. Court for the Western District of Kentucky, Chief Judge Joseph McKinley Jr. dismissed a lawsuit filed by the Christian County Clerk, denying relief to the County for the same relief sought by Dallas County and others.

Rampant mortgage fraud, continued robosigning

Studies have shown that MERS destroyed the chain of title in America, and other studies reveal that illegal robosigning is still in play, and that foreclosure fraud has occurred in themajority of loans.

As the courts have not yet rewarded cities, counties, or states pursuing action against MERS, other tactics are being taken by these entities, for example, Louisiana is using RICO laws to sue MERS.

Summit County, Ohio taking a different approach

Summit County, Ohio filed a lawsuit1 Tuesday against Freddie Mac, alleging a failure to pay fees on transfer taxes on over 3,500 real estate transactions over six years. Court documents show that the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation is accused of committing fraud by claiming it was a government entity, thereby exempt from transfer taxes. The County has not released a final assessment of the amount they believe is due, but they will also be seeking interest and penalties.

This approach is far different than going after MERS (which coincidentally was established by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac over 15 years ago), rather going directly after the still-functioning Freddie Mac.

“The reality is Freddie Mac is a federally chartered, private corporation and they should have been paying these fees and taxes,” Assistant Prosecutor Joe Fantozzi told the Akron Beacon Journal.

Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae began paying transfer taxes in 2009, so the lawsuit is only seeking transfer taxes due from 2002 through 2008, which in Summit County are $4 per $1,000 on all real estate transactions. Additionally, the county also charges a 50-cent lot fee and recording fees, which are $28 for the first two pages and $8 for each additional page.

Fannie Mae not named, FHFA already fighting back

Although Geauga County in Ohio sued MERS, Chase Bank, and CoreLogic, the Akron Beacon Journal reports that Summit County is believed to be the first county in the state to file legal action against Freddie Mac. Fannie Mae was not named in the suit due to the low volume of mortgages in the county it handled during the time period.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), the conservator of Fannie and Freddie, is fighting back on these same battle lines, suing in Illinois to validate the two mortgage giants’ tax-exempt status, the Chicago Tribune reported. This move is likely an effort to circumvent more lawsuits like the one currently being filed in Summit County.

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Whistleblower Bangs BofA for $14.5 million in Mortgage Case

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Editor’s Comment:

Countrywide Financial Inflated Appraisals 

For people in law enforcement this is a time when it gets to be fun going after the big guys.  Being arrogant to the highest degree going into this mortgage mess you can only imagine the ego of the Titans of Wall Street after making trillions of dollars in turning the entire mortgage process on its head and reversing all common sense criteria in underwriting loans.

The rats are leaving the ship by the thousands, whether they want to or not.  There is hardly a day that goes by that some former employee of Countrywide, Bank of America, Chase, Citi or Wells Fargo does not reveal that they were under instructions to violate regulations and law.

The inflation of appraisals of the securities and the inflation of the homes themselves was the key to the success of the Wall Street plan.  This plan was devoted to sucking out as much o the liquidity in the marketplace as they could possibly achieve.  This in itself is a reversal of even the purpose of allowing Wall Street to exist.  Wall Street’s mandate is to provide liquidity in the marketplace and not taking it away.  Instead they took the equivalent of the gross domestic product of several countries combined (including the United States) and converted the proceeds to “trading profits”.

It is good that these whistleblowers are appearing and it’s even good they are making so much money.  This will encourage other whistleblowers and will encourage those attorneys who thought mortgage litigation was beneath them.  As these cases proceed we will see more and more understandable facts emerge that explain the tragic reversal of our financial model and the historic consequences to most of the major countries of the world.

Bank of America Whistleblower Receives $14.5 million in Mortgage Case

By Rick Rothacker

(Reuters) – A former home appraiser will receive $14.5 million as part of a whistleblower lawsuit that accused subprime lender Countrywide Financial of inflating appraisals on government-insured loans, his attorneys said Tuesday.

Kyle Lagow’s lawsuit sparked an investigation that culminated in a $1 billion settlement announced in February between Bank of America Corp (BAC.N) and the U.S. Justice Department over allegations of mortgage fraud at Countrywide, his attorneys said in a news release. Bank of America bought Countrywide in 2008.

Lagow’s suit was one of five whistleblower complaints that were folded into the $25 billion national mortgage settlement that state and federal officials reached with Bank of America and four other lenders this year. His suit was unsealed in February, but the amount of his settlement had not been disclosed.

Gregory Mackler, a whistleblower who challenged Bank of America’s handling of the government’s HAMP mortgage modification program, has also finalized a settlement, said Shayne Stevenson, an attorney with the Hagens Berman law firm, which represented both whistleblowers. Stevenson declined to comment on Mackler’s settlement amount.

The complaints were brought under a whistleblower provision in the U.S. False Claims Act, which allows private individuals with knowledge of wrongdoing to bring suits on behalf of the government and share in the proceeds of any settlement.

Both Lagow and Mackler lost their jobs after raising concerns about practices at their companies and faced difficult times awaiting settlements, Stevenson said. Lagow, who worked in a Countrywide appraisal unit, filed his suit in 2009; Mackler, who worked at a firm called Urban Lending Solutions, brought his case in 2011.

“These guys are inspirational,” Stevenson said. “They both did the right thing. They should inspire other people to come forward.”

Bank of America declined to comment. A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York, which handled the Bank of America settlement, also declined to comment.

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Az Statute on Mortgage Fraud Not Enforced (except against homeowners)

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Editor’s Comment:

With a statute like this on the books in Arizona and elsewhere, it is difficult to see why the Chief Law Enforcement of each state, the Attorney General, has not brought claims and prosecutions against all those entities and people up and down the fraudulent securitization chain that brought us the mortgage meltdown, foreclosures of more than 5 million people, suicides, evictions and claims of profits based upon the fact that the free house went to the pretender lender.

Practically every act described in this statute was committed by the investment banks and all their affiliates and partners from the seller of the bogus mortgage bond (sold forward, which means that the loans did not yet exist) all the way down to the people at the closing table with the homeowner borrower.

I’d like to see a script from attorneys who confront the free house concept head on. The San Francisco study and other studies clearly show that many if not most foreclosures resulted in a “sale” of property without any cash offered by the buyer who submitted a credit bid when they had not established themselves as creditors nor had they established the amount due. And we now know that they failed to establish themselves as creditors because they neither loaned the money nor purchased the loan in any transaction in which they parted with money. So the consideration for the sale was not present or if you want to put it in legalese that would effect those states that allow review of the adequacy of consideration at the auction.

I’d like to see a lawyer go to court and say “Judge, you already know it would be wrong for my client to get a free house. I am here to agree with you and state further that whether you rule for the borrower or this pretender lender here, you are going to give a free house to somebody.

“Because this party initiated a foreclosure proceeding without being the creditor, without spending a dime on the loan or purchase of the loan, and without any right to represent the multitude of people and entities that should be paid on this loan. This pretender, this stranger to this transaction stands in the way of a mediated settlement or HAMP modification in which the borrower is more than happy to do a traditional workout based upon the economic realities.

“And they they maintain themselves as obstacles to mediation or modification because they have too much to hide about the origination of this loan.

“All I seek is that you recognize that we deny the loan on which this party is pursuing its claims, we deny the default and we deny the balance. That puts the matter at issue in which there are relevant and material facts that are in dispute.

“I say to you that as a Judge you are here to call balls and strikes and that your ruling can only be that with issues in dispute, the case must proceed.”

“The pretender should be required to state its claim with a complaint, attach the relevant documents and the homeowner should be able to respond to the complaint and confront the witnesses and documents being used. And that means the pretender here must be subject to the requirements of the rules of civil procedure that include discovery.

“Experience shows that there have been no trials on the evidence in all the foreclosures ever brought during this period and that the moment a judge rules on discovery in favor of the borrower, the pretender offers settlement. Why do you think that is?”

“If they had a good reason to foreclose and they had the authority to allege the required the elements of foreclosure and they had the proof to back it up they would and should be more than willing to put a stop to all these motions and petitions from borrowers. But they don’t allow any case to go to trial. They are winning on procedure because of the assumption that the legitimate debt is unpaid and that the borrower owes it to the party making the claim even if there never was transaction with the pretender in which the borrower was a party, directly or indirectly.”

“Neither the non-judicial powers of sale statutes nor the rules of civil procedure based upon constitutional requirements of due process can be used to thwart a claim that has merit or raises issues that have merit. You should not allow the statute and rules to be applied in a manner in which a stranger to the transaction who could not even plead a case in good faith would win a foreclosed house at auction without court review and a hearing on the merits.”

Residential mortgage fraud; classification; definitions in Arizona

Section 1. Title 13, chapter 23, Arizona Revised Statutes, is amended by adding section 13-2320, to read:
13-2320.

A. A PERSON COMMITS RESIDENTIAL MORTGAGE FRAUD IF, WITH THE INTENT TO DEFRAUD, THE PERSON DOES ANY OF THE FOLLOWING:

  1. KNOWINGLY MAKES ANY DELIBERATE MISSTATEMENT, MISREPRESENTATION OR MATERIAL OMISSION DURING THE MORTGAGE LENDING PROCESS THAT IS RELIED ON BY A MORTGAGE LENDER, BORROWER OR OTHER PARTY TO THE MORTGAGE LENDING PROCESS.
  2. KNOWINGLY USES OR FACILITATES THE USE OF ANY DELIBERATE MISSTATEMENT, MISREPRESENTATION OR MATERIAL OMISSION DURING THE MORTGAGE LENDING PROCESS THAT IS RELIED ON BY A MORTGAGE LENDER, BORROWER OR OTHER PARTY TO THE MORTGAGE LENDING PROCESS.
  3. RECEIVES ANY PROCEEDS OR OTHER MONIES IN CONNECTION WITH A RESIDENTIAL MORTGAGE LOAN THAT THE PERSON KNOWS RESULTED FROM A VIOLATION OF PARAGRAPH 1 OR 2 OF THIS SUBSECTION.
  4. FILES OR CAUSES TO BE FILED WITH THE OFFICE OF THE COUNTY RECORDER OF ANY COUNTY OF THIS STATE ANY RESIDENTIAL MORTGAGE LOAN DOCUMENT THAT THE PERSON KNOWS TO CONTAIN A DELIBERATE MISSTATEMENT, MISREPRESENTATION OR MATERIAL OMISSION.

Those convicted of one count of mortgage fraud face punishment in accordance with a Class 4 felony.  Anyone convicted of engaging in a pattern of mortgage fraud could be convicted of a Class 2 felony


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Editor’s Comment:

I attended Darrell Blomberg’s Foreclosure Strategists’ meeting last night where Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne defended the relatively small size of the foreclosure settlement compared with the tobacco settlement. To be fair, it should be noted that the multi-state settlement relates only to issues brought by the attorneys general. True they did very little investigation but the settlement sets the guidelines for settling with individual homeowners without waiving anything except that the AG won’t bring the lawsuits to court. Anyone else can and will. It wasn’t a real settlement. But the effect was what the Banks wanted. They want you to think the game is over and move on. The game is far from over, it isn’t a game and I won’t stop until I get those homes back that were ripped from the arms of homeowners who never knew what hit them.

So this is the first full business day after AG Horne promised me he would get back to me on the question of whether the AG would bring criminal actions for racketeering and corruption against the banks and servicers for conducting sham auctions in which “credit bids” were used instead of cash to allow the banks to acquire title. These credit bids came from non-creditors and were used as the basis for issuing deeds on foreclosure, each of which carry a presumption of authenticity.  But the deeds based on credit bids from non-creditors represent outright theft and a ratification of a corrupt title system that was doing just fine before the banks started claiming the loans were securitized.

Those credit bids and the deeds issued upon foreclosure were sham transactions — just as the transactions originated with borrowers were based upon the lies and false pretenses of the acting lenders who were paid for their acting services. By pretending that the loan came from these thinly capitalised sham companies (all closed with no forwarding address), the banks and servicers started the lie that the loan was sold up the tree of securitization. Each transaction we are told was a sale of the loan, but none of them actually involved any money exchanging hands. So much for, “value received.”

The purpose of these loans was to create a process that would cover up the theft of the investor money that the investment bank received in exchange for “mortgage bonds” based upon non-existent transactions and the title equivalent of wild deeds.

So the answer to the question is that borrowers did not make bad decisions. They were tricked into these loans. Had there been full disclosure as required by TILA, the borrowers would never have closed on the papers presented to them. Had there been full disclosure to the investors, they never would have parted with a nickel. No money, no lender, no borrower no transactions. And practically barring lawyers from being hired by borrowers was the first clue that these deals were upside down and bogus. No, they didn’t make bad decisions. There was an asymmetry of information that the banks used to leverage against the borrowers who knew nothing and who understood nothing.  

“Just sign everywhere we marked for your signature” was the closing agent’s way of saying, “You are now totally screwed.” If you ask the wrong question you get the wrong answer. “Moral hazard” in this context is not a term anyone knowledgeable uses in connection with the borrowers. It is a term used to express the context in which unscrupulous Bankers acted without conscience and with reckless disregard to the public, violating every applicable law, rule and regulation in the process.

Why Did So Many People Make So Many Ex Post Bad Decisions? The Causes of the Foreclosure Crisis

Public Policy Discussion Paper No. 12-2


by Christopher L. Foote, Kristopher S. Gerardi, and Paul S. Willen

This paper presents 12 facts about the mortgage market. The authors argue that the facts refute the popular story that the crisis resulted from financial industry insiders deceiving uninformed mortgage borrowers and investors. Instead, they argue that borrowers and investors made decisions that were rational and logical given their ex post overly optimistic beliefs about house prices. The authors then show that neither institutional features of the mortgage market nor financial innovations are any more likely to explain those distorted beliefs than they are to explain the Dutch tulip bubble 400 years ago. Economists should acknowledge the limits of our understanding of asset price bubbles and design policies accordingly.

To ready the entire paper please go to this link: www.bostonfed.org/economic/ppdp/2012/ppdp1202.htm

Guest Writer Shares Info on Fraud in CA Foreclosure Cases

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Editor’s Comment: The following information was submitted to the blog by a law firm.  We do not know this law firm.  We are simply passing along information that may be of interest to Californians.  As always, please do your research.

From counsel for Consumer Rights Defenders for our loyal followers, you may be interested in this California information which is not meant to be legal advise, just some information that is public knowledge. Call if you need foreclosure help at 818.453.3585 ask for Steve or Sara.   Ms. Stephens Esq7777@aol.com

___________

Elements of fraud cause of action: A plaintiff seeking a remedy based upon fraud must allege and prove all of the following basic elements:

· Defendant’s false representation or concealment of a ‘material’ fact (see Rest.2d Torts | 538(2)(a); Engalla v. Permanente Med. Group, Inc. (1997) 15 Cal.4th 951, 977, 64 Cal.Rptr.2d 843, 859–misrepresentation deemed ‘material’ if ‘a reasonable (person) would attach importance to its existence or nonexistence in determining his choice of action in the transaction’);

· Defendant made the representation with knowledge of its falsity or without sufficient knowledge of the subject to warrant a representation;

· The representation was made with the intent to induce plaintiff (or a class to which plaintiff belonged) to act upon it (see Blickman Turkus, LP v. MF Downtown Sunnyvale, LLC (2008) 162 Cal.App.4th 858, 869, 76 Cal.Rptr.3d 325, 333–fraud by false representations means intent to induce ‘reliance’; fraud by concealment involves intent to induce ‘conduct’);

· Plaintiff entered into the contract in ‘justifiable reliance’ upon the representation (see Ostayan v. Serrano Reconveyance Co. (2000) 77 Cal.App.4th 1411, 1419, 92 Cal.Rptr.2d 577, 583–P’s admission of no reliance on a representation made by D precludes cause of action for intentional or negligent misrepresentation); and

· As a result of reliance upon the false representation, plaintiff has suffered damages. [Alliance Mortgage Co. v. Rothwell (1995) 10 Cal.4th 1226, 1239, 44 Cal.Rptr.2d 352, 359; see Manderville v. PCG & S Group, Inc. (2007) 146 Cal.App.4th 1486, 1498, 55 Cal.Rptr.3d 59, 68; and Auerbach v. Great Western Bank (1999) 74 Cal.App.4th 1172, 1184, 88 Cal.Rptr.2d 718, 727–‘Deception without resulting loss is not actionable fraud’ (¶ 11:357.1)]

(1) [11:354.1] Particularized pleading required: A fraud cause of action must be pleaded with particularity; i.e., every element of the cause of action must be alleged factually and specifically in full. [Committee on Children’s Television, Inc. v. General Foods Corp. (1983) 35 Cal.3d 197, 216, 197 Cal.Rptr. 783, 795; see Stansfield v. Starkey (1990) 220 Cal.App.3d 59, 73, 269 Cal.Rptr. 337, 345–complaint must plead facts showing ‘how, when, where, to whom, and by what means the representations were tendered’; Nagy v. Nagy (1989) 210 Cal.App.3d 1262, 1268-1269, 258 Cal.Rptr. 787, 790–fraud complaint deficient if it neither shows cause and effect relationship between alleged fraud and damages sought nor alleges definite amount of damages suffered]

Why Everyone Should Support Principal Corrections on Mortgages

First, let’s talk to the guy that says homeowners shouldn’t get a break because it would be unfair to him. After all he paid his mortgage and he is still paying his mortgage and nobody is helping him, right? Wrong. Everyone who has a mortgage is getting a federal subsidy. They get to pay less in taxes and the more they owe, the less taxes they pay. That is the interest deduction for home ownership. So the question is not whether homeowners should get help, because they all get help. And if the guy who still has his home doesn’t wake up to the fact that foreclosures mean fewer homeowners and fewer homeowners means that those who want to eliminate the home mortgage interest deduction will get more traction. They already have a number of people in high places who would like this federal subsidy eliminated because it does nothing for big business and big banking. Putting your support into whatever it takes for people to stay in their homes and pay on mortgages, even if they are lower, means more people that would join you in opposition to eliminating the interest deduction. Oppose them and it will cost you thousands of dollars in additional taxes.

Next, those who are ideologically opposed to any relief for someone who stops paying on a loan. They say that if we don’t hold the borrower’s feet to the fire, we will undermine the entire concept of credit because borrowers would think they could walk away from any debt and would do so. The evidence is in. Most borrowers don’t want to walk from their debt. They want the deal they were sold on by the banks — an affordable loan. They didn’t get it because the originators were not acting as banks. The originators were getting paid for signatures not good loans. What is undermining the credit industry is that nobody trusts the creditors and won’t take the deal on hedge products and swaps. It isn’t that the financial world trusts the borrower any more or any less. They don’t trust the banks because they corrupted the loan underwriting process and because it was the banks who screwed up real estate title and obscured the ownership of loans thus freezing the once liquid credit markets that were running very well on the Uniform Commercial Code. Now we are parsing words and splitting hairs — what is a possessor, holder, holder in due course, what is the effect of fabricated loans, assignments, substitutions, notices, auctions, credit bids, deeds and evictions? If you want confidence in the credit markets restored, we must show that we can control the banks so they can’t do this again.

The main reason everyone should support principal correction is that it is a correction. The values used were pure fabrication created to induce pension funds to throw money down a rabbit hole called a “REMIC POOL” and to induce the homeowner into thinking that he was getting the deal of a lifetime. That was fraud. And in this country when someone is defrauded we take the bounty away from the perpetrators and return it to the victims.

THE HIGH COST OF THE BANKS’ MORTGAGE FRAUD AND FORECLOSURE FRAUD

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EDITOR’S COMMENT: When someone said mortgage fraud they were pointing the finger at borrowers or mortgage brokers. Now they are pointing the fingers at Banks, mortgage brokers, mortgage originators and everyone else that sold borrowers false loan products based upon intentional misrepresentations and omissions. The cost to the entire society, including those who were not foreclosed is starting to emerge. It is higher than anyone ever imagined.

mortgage-fraud-top-5-states_n_1151455.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000003

HUFFINGTON POST

by Harry Bradford

Millions of Americans have been forced out of their homes in the wake of the housing collapse, and from that has come allegation after allegation of foreclosure fraud by the responsible lenders. In certain hard-hit states, the costs of such improper action is starting to pile up.

Mortgage fraud cost several states over a hundred million dollars in the third quarter of this year, according to mortgage industry news website MortgageDaily.com. All of the top states have seen their faire share of headlines about alleged foreclosure fraud. Florida, once a housing boom hotspot, was hit especially hard after the bubble burst. And despite only having the third-highest foreclosure fraud cost, it remains the state with the highest volume of cases, MortgageDaily.com reports.

Mortgage fraud may be more rampant than previously thought on a national scale. Eileen Foster, a former executive at Countrywide Financial, once the largest lender in the nation, told CBS’s 60 Minutes that mortgage fraud was “systemic” and par for the course in the industry.

Pressure lately has heated up on banks to more carefully review cases before foreclosing on homeowners. Earlier this month, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley announced a law suit against five of the top mortgage lenders — JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citibank and Ally Financial Inc. — alleging the banks improperly foreclosed on homeowners while doing little to help homeowners obtain loan modifications. Likewise, Attorneys General from California, which tops this list, and Nevada, have teamed up to persecute mortgage fraud after growing frustrated with a potential national settlement.

Nevada’s absence from the list is somewhat conspicuous, especially after a prominent Las Vegas mortgage attorney estimated that the paperwork was done improperly for nine out of ten mortgages.

 

FEDS SUE ALLIED MORTGAGE FOR FRAUD IN MORTGAGE BROKERING

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“Allied never played by the rules.”

EDITOR’S COMMENT: The only thing I don’t like about these reports is the implication that mortgage fraud consists of isolated instances in which industry standards for underwriting were undermined or ignored. They always imply that it was some individual in the company or at the head of the company who was responsible. That isn’t true.

The whole reason Allied acted with impunity is because Wall Street wanted Allied to act this way. Every time Allied or anyone else came up with a loan that had a nominal percentage rate above market rates, the amount of money that Wall Street funded out of investor purchases of bogus mortgage bonds was decreased.

This they then reported as a trading profit” when in fact all they did was take $1 billion from investors and fund $700 million in mortgages, the rest being trading profits arising from the fact that this was in actuality a Tier 2 Yield Spread Premium unreported to either the borrower (required under law) and unreported to the investor (required by law and the documents of securitization).

The more crooked the mortgage broker, the more money the Wall Street investment Bank made in “trading profits.” In Florida, we already reported years ago that 10,000 newly licensed mortgage brokers were people recently out of prison convicted of economic crimes. They needed an army of crooks and they got it anyway they could.

The investors know these facts. But the investors are actually institutions themselves run by management that hasn’t exactly told the whole truth yet about the extent of losses in the pension fund or other managed fund. Thee management of these funds consists of individual people who are seeking another bonus, another year of employment and benefits. And of course with the revolving door on Wall Street they want to anger a prospective (or existing) employer. Eventually they are going to be required to fess up as to the amount of losses, why they didn’t do due diligence and most of all why they didn’t mitigate their losses and instead chose to let Wall Street, who had already stolen part of the money, go ahead and steal the rest too.

These managers shouldn’t be too surprised when the Banks turn on the investors and tell them it was their fault for not doing their homework and that if they wanted something other than the foreclosures (like modifications, settlements and short-sales that would have reduced the loss), they should have said so.

Feds sue mortgage broker, alleging lending fraud

APBy LARRY NEUMEISTER – Associated Press | AP – 20 hrs ago

NEW YORK (AP) — The federal government sued one of the nation’s largest privately held mortgage brokers on Tuesday, saying its decade-long fraudulent lending practices cost the government hundreds of millions of dollars and forced thousands of American homeowners to lose their homes.

The lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Manhattan sought unspecified damages and civil penalties and named as defendants Houston-based Allied Home Mortgage Corp., founder Jim Hodge and Jeanne Stell, the company’s executive vice president and director of compliance.

Joe James, a company spokesman, said he was aware of the lawsuit but had not yet seen it. He declined immediate comment.

At a news conference, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said Allied had carried out its fraud through its authority to originate mortgage loans insured by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD.

“The losers here were American taxpayers and the thousands of families who faced foreclosure because they were could not ultimately fulfill their obligations on mortgages that were doomed to fail,” he said.

The prosecutor said the investigation continues and “if and when we have sufficient evidence for a criminal case, we’ll bring it.”

Helen Kanovsky, HUD’s general counsel, said the agency had stopped insuring loans for Allied and was seeking to prevent Hodge from participating in any government programs again after seeing the destruction that the fraud had caused in communities across the country.

“Mortgage fraud has very real human victims,” she said.

According to the lawsuit, nearly 32 percent of the 112,324 home loans originated by Allied between Jan. 1, 2001, and the end of 2010 have defaulted, resulting in more than $834 million in insurance claims paid by HUD.

The lawsuit said the default rate climbed to “a staggering 55 percent” in 2006 and 2007, at the height of the housing boom, when the government paid $170 million to settle Allied’s failed loans. It said an additional 2,509 loans are now in default and HUD could face $363 million more in claims.

The government said Allied made substantial profits through the loans while it violated rules meant to protect HUD’s insurance fund and deceived the agency by originating loans for years out of hundreds of “shadow” branches that were not approved by HUD.

The deceitful practice was continued under Hodge’s direction even after several senior managers voiced concerns, the lawsuit said.

“Allied operated with impunity for many years due a culture of corruption created by Hodge, who eliminated the position of chief financial officer and other senior management positions, intimidated employees by spontaneous terminations and aggressive email monitoring, and silenced former employees by actual and threatened litigation against them,” the lawsuit said. “As a result, Allied was able to conceal its dysfunctional operations and maintain its profitable position in the mortgage industry.”

Allied operated 600 or more branches at once but only maintained two quality control employees in its corporate office, requiring branch managers to assume financial responsibility for their branches, the lawsuit said.

“Allied thus operated its branches like franchises, collecting revenue while the branches were profitable, then closing them without notice when they were not, leaving the branch managers liable for the branch’s financial obligations,” the lawsuit said.

The government said Allied failed to implement its internal quality control plan, “effectively allowing its shadow branches to operate independently of any scrutiny whatsoever,” the lawsuit said. “Allied utterly failed to conduct audits of its branches or review its early payment defaults as it was required to do by HUD.”

The lawsuit accused Stell of instructing branch managers how to answer questions from HUD auditors and said she acknowledged in an email that she instructed someone else to sign certifications that its branches met federal requirements because she knew they were false.

Bharara said Allied was playing a “lending industry equivalent of heads-I-win, tails-you-lose.”

He added: “Allied never played by the rules.”

FRAUD: The Significance of the Game Changing FHFA Lawsuits

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FHFA ACCUSES BANKS OF FRAUD: THEY KNEW THEY WERE LYING

“FHFA has refrained from sugar coating the banks’ alleged conduct as mere inadvertence, negligence, or recklessness, as many plaintiffs have done thus far.  Instead, it has come right out and accused certain banks of out-and-out fraud.  In particular, FHFA has levied fraud claims against Countrywide (and BofA as successor-in-interest), Deutsche Bank, J.P. Morgan (including EMC, WaMu and Long Beach), Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch (including First Franklin as sponsor), and Morgan Stanley (including Credit Suisse as co-lead underwriter).  Besides showing that FHFA means business, these claims demonstrate that the agency has carefully reviewed the evidence before it and only wielded the sword of fraud against those banks that it felt actually were aware of their misrepresentations.”

It is no stretch to say that Friday, September 2 was the most significant day for mortgage crisis litigation since the onset of the crisis in 2007.  That Friday, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), as conservator for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, sued almost all of the world’s largest banks in 17 separate lawsuits, covering mortgage backed securities with original principal balances of roughly $200 billion.  Unless you’ve been hiking in the Andes over the last two weeks, you have probably heard about these suits in the mainstream media.  But here at the Subprime Shakeout, I like to dig a bit deeper.  The following is my take on the most interesting aspects of these voluminous complaints (all available here) from a mortgage litigation perspective.

Throwing the Book at U.S. Banks

The first thing that jumps out to me is the tenacity and aggressiveness with which FHFA presents its cases.  In my last post (Number 1 development), I noted that FHFA had just sued UBS over $4.5 billion in MBS.  While I noted that this signaled a shift in Washington’s “too-big-to-fail” attitude towards banks, my biggest question was whether the agency would show the same tenacity in going after major U.S. banks.  Well, it’s safe to say the agency has shown the same tenacity and then some.

FHFA has refrained from sugar coating the banks’ alleged conduct as mere inadvertence, negligence, or recklessness, as many plaintiffs have done thus far.  Instead, it has come right out and accused certain banks of out-and-out fraud.  In particular, FHFA has levied fraud claims against Countrywide (and BofA as successor-in-interest), Deutsche Bank, J.P. Morgan (including EMC, WaMu and Long Beach), Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch (including First Franklin as sponsor), and Morgan Stanley (including Credit Suisse as co-lead underwriter).  Besides showing that FHFA means business, these claims demonstrate that the agency has carefully reviewed the evidence before it and only wielded the sword of fraud against those banks that it felt actually were aware of their misrepresentations.

Further, FHFA has essentially used every bit of evidence at its disposal to paint an exhaustive picture of reckless lending and misleading conduct by the banks.  To support its claims, FHFA has drawn from such diverse sources as its own loan reviews, investigations by the SEC, congressional testimony, and the evidence presented in other lawsuits (including the bond insurer suits that were also brought by Quinn Emanuel).  Finally, where appropriate, FHFA has included successor-in-interest claims against banks such as Bank of America (as successor to Countrywide but, interestingly, not to Merrill Lynch) and J.P. Morgan (as successor to Bear Stearns and WaMu), which acquired potential liability based on its acquisition of other lenders or issuers and which have tried and may in the future try to avoid accepting those liabilities.    In short, FHFA has thrown the book at many of the nation’s largest banks.

FHFA has also taken the virtually unprecedented step of issuing a second press release after the filing of its lawsuits, in which it responds to the “media coverage” the suits have garnered.  In particular, FHFA seeks to dispel the notion that the sophistication of the investor has any bearing on the outcome of securities law claims – something that spokespersons for defendant banks have frequently argued in public statements about MBS lawsuits.  I tend to agree that this factor is not something that courts should or will take into account under the express language of the securities laws.

The agency’s press release also responds to suggestions that these suits will destabilize banks and disrupt economic recovery.  To this, FHFA responds, “the long-term stability and resilience of the nation’s financial system depends on investors being able to trust that the securities sold in this country adhere to applicable laws. We cannot overlook compliance with such requirements during periods of economic difficulty as they form the foundation for our nation’s financial system.”  Amen.

This response to the destabilization argument mirrors statements made by Rep. Brad Miller (D-N.C.), both in a letter urging these suits before they were filed and in a conference call praising the suits after their filing.  In particular, Miller has said that failing to pursue these claims would be “tantamount to another bailout” and akin to an “indirect subsidy” to the banking industry.  I agree with these statements – of paramount importance in restarting the U.S. housing market is restoring investor confidence, and this means respecting contract rights and the rule of law.   If investors are stuck with a bill for which they did not bargain, they will be reluctant to invest in U.S. housing securities in the future, increasing the costs of homeownership for prospective homeowners and/or taxpayers.

You can find my recent analysis of Rep. Miller’s initial letter to FHFA here under Challenge No. 3.  The letter, which was sent in response to the proposed BofA/BoNY settlement of Countrywide put-back claims, appears to have had some influence.

Are Securities Claims the New Put-Backs?

The second thing that jumps out to me about these suits is that FHFA has entirely eschewed put-backs, or contractual claims, in favor of securities law, blue sky law, and tort claims.  This continues a trend that began with the FHLB lawsuits and continued through the recent filing by AIG of its $10 billion lawsuit against BofA/Countrywide of plaintiffs focusing on securities law claims when available.  Why are plaintiffs such as FHFA increasingly turning to securities law claims when put-backs would seem to benefit from more concrete evidence of liability?

One reason may be the procedural hurdles that investors face when pursuing rep and warranty put-backs or repurchases.  In general, they must have 25% of the voting rights for each deal on which they want to take action.  If they don’t have those rights on their own, they must band together with other bondholders to reach critical mass.  They must then petition the Trustee to take action.  If the Trustee refuses to help, the investor may then present repurchase demands on individual loans to the originator or issuer, but must provide that party with sufficient time to cure the defect or repurchase each loan before taking action.  Only if the investor overcomes these steps and the breaching party fails to cure or repurchase will the investor finally have standing to sue.

All of those steps notwithstanding, I have long argued that put-back claims are strong and valuable because once you overcome the initial procedural hurdles, it is a fairly straightforward task to prove whether an individual loan met or breached the proper underwriting guidelines and representations.  Recent statistical sampling rulings have also provided investors with a shortcut to establishing liability – instead of having to go loan-by-loan to prove that each challenged loan breached reps and warranties, investors may now use a statistically significant sample to establish the breach rate in an entire pool.

So, what led FHFA to abandon the put-back route in favor of filing securities law claims?  For one, the agency may not have 25% of the voting rights in all or even a majority of the deals in which it holds an interest.  And due to the unique status of the agency as conservator and the complex politics surrounding these lawsuits, it may not have wanted to band together with private investors to pursue its claims.

Another reason may be that the FHFA has had trouble obtaining loan files, as has been the case for many investors.  These files are usually necessary before even starting down the procedural path outlined above, and servicers have thus far been reluctant to turn these files over to investors.  But this is even less likely to be the limiting factor for FHFA.  With subpoena power that extends above and beyond that of the ordinary investor, the government agency may go directly to the servicers and demand these critical documents.  This they’ve already done, having sent 64 subpoenas to various market participants over a year ago.  While it’s not clear how much cooperation FHFA has received in this regard, the numerous references in its complaints to loan level reviews suggest that the agency has obtained a large number of loan files.  In fact, FHFA has stated that these lawsuits were the product of the subpoenas, so they must have uncovered a fair amount of valuable information.

Thus, the most likely reason for this shift in strategy is the advantage offered by the federal securities laws in terms of the available remedies.  With the put-back remedy, monetary damages are not available.  Instead, most Pooling and Servicing Agreements (PSAs) stipulate that the sole remedy for an incurable breach of reps and warranties is the repurchase or substitution of that defective loan.  Thus, any money shelled out by offending banks would flow into the Trust waterfall, to be divided amongst the bondholders based on seniority, rather than directly into the coffers of FHFA (and taxpayers).  Further, a plaintiff can only receive this remedy on the portion of loans it proves to be defective.  Thus, it cannot recover its losses on defaulted loans for which no defect can be shown.

In contrast, the securities law remedy provides the opportunity for a much broader recovery – and one that goes exclusively to the plaintiff (thus removing any potential freerider problems).  Should FHFA be able to prove that there was a material misrepresentation in a particular oral statement, offering document, or registration statement issued in connection with a Trust, it may be able to recover all of its losses on securities from that Trust.  Since a misrepresentation as to one Trust was likely repeated as to all of an issuers’ MBS offerings, that one misrepresentation can entitle FHFA to recover all of its losses on all certificates issued by that particular issuer.

The defendant may, however, reduce those damages by the amount of any loss that it can prove was caused by some factor other than its misrepresentation, but the burden of proof for this loss causation defense is on the defendant.  It is much more difficult for the defendant to prove that a loss was caused by some factor apart from its misrepresentation than to argue that the plaintiff hasn’t adequately proved causation, as it can with most tort claims.

Finally, any recovery is paid directly to the bondholder and not into the credit waterfall, meaning that it is not shared with other investors and not impacted by the class of certificate held by that bondholder.  This aspect alone makes these claims far more attractive for the party funding the litigation.  Though FHFA has not said exactly how much of the $200 billion in original principal balance of these notes it is seeking in its suits, one broker-dealer’s analysis has reached a best case scenario for FHFA of $60 billion flowing directly into its pockets.

There are other reasons, of course, that FHFA may have chosen this strategy.  Though the remedy appears to be the most important factor, securities law claims are also attractive because they may not require the plaintiff to present an in-depth review of loan-level information.  Such evidence would certainly bolster FHFA’s claims of misrepresentations with respect to loan-level representations in the offering materials (for example, as to LTV, owner occupancy or underwriting guidelines), but other claims may not require such proof.  For example, FHFA may be able to make out its claim that the ratings provided in the prospectus were misrepresented simply by showing that the issuer provided rating agencies with false data or did not provide rating agencies with its due diligence reports showing problems with the loans.  One state law judge has already bought this argument in an early securities law suit by the FHLB of Pittsburgh.  Being able to make out these claims without loan-level data reduces the plaintiff’s burden significantly.

Finally, keep in mind that simply because FHFA did not allege put-back claims does not foreclose it from doing so down the road.  Much as Ambac amended its complaint to include fraud claims against JP Morgan and EMC, FHFA could amend its claims later to include causes of action for contractual breach.  FHFA’s initial complaints were apparently filed at this time to ensure that they fell within the shorter statute of limitations for securities law and tort claims.  Contractual claims tend to have a longer statute of limitations and can be brought down the road without fear of them being time-barred (see interesting Subprime Shakeout guest post on statute of limitations concerns.

Predictions

Since everyone is eager to hear how all this will play out, I will leave you with a few predictions.  First, as I’ve predicted in the past, the involvement of the U.S. Government in mortgage litigation will certainly embolden other private litigants to file suit, both by providing political cover and by providing plaintiffs with a roadmap to recovery.  It also may spark shareholder suits based on the drop in stock prices suffered by many of these banks after statements in the media downplaying their mortgage exposure.

Second, as to these particular suits, many of the defendants likely will seek to escape the harsh glare of the litigation spotlight by settling quickly, especially if they have relatively little at stake (the one exception may be GE, which has stated that it will vigorously oppose the suit, though this may be little more than posturing).  The FHFA, in turn, is likely also eager to get some of these suits settled quickly, both so that it can show that the suits have merit with benchmark settlements and also so that it does not have to fight legal battles on 18 fronts simultaneously.  It will likely be willing to offer defendants a substantial discount against potential damages if they come to the table in short order.

Meanwhile, the banks with larger liability and a more precarious capital situation will be forced to fight these suits and hope to win some early battles to reduce the cost of settlement.  Due to the plaintiff-friendly nature of these claims, I doubt many will succeed in winning motions to dismiss that dispose entirely of any case, but they may obtain favorable evidentiary rulings or dismissals on successor-in-interest claims.  Still, they may not be able to settle quickly because the price tag, even with a substantial discount, will be too high.

On the other hand, trial on these cases would be a publicity nightmare for the big banks, not to mention putting them at risk a massive financial wallop from the jury (fraud claims carry with them the potential for punitive damages).  Thus, these cases will likely end up settling at some point down the road.  Whether that’s one year or four years from now is hard to say, but from what I’ve seen in mortgage litigation, I’d err on the side of assuming a longer time horizon for the largest banks with the most at stake.

Article taken from The Subprime Shakeout – www.subprimeshakeout.com
URL to article: the-government-giveth-and-it-taketh-away-the-significance-of-the-game-changing-fhfa-lawsuits.html

SPECTRE OF FRAUD OF ALL TYPES HAUNTING BOFA, CITI, CHASE, WELLS ET AL

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New York AG Schneiderman Comes out Swinging at BofA, BoNY
Posted By igradman On August 5, 2011 (4:28 pm) In Attorneys General

This is big.  Though we’ve seen leading indicators over the last few weeks that New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman might get involved in the proposed Bank of America settlement over Countrywide bonds, few expected a response that might dynamite the entire deal.  But that’s exactly what yesterday’s filing before Judge Kapnick could do.

Stating that he has both a common law and a statutory interest “in protecting the economic health and well-being of all investors who reside or transact business within the State of New York,” Schneiderman’s petition to intervene takes a stance that’s more aggressive than that of any of the other investor groups asking for a seat at the table.

Rather than simply requesting a chance to conduct discovery or questioning the methodology that was used to arrive at the settlement, the AG’s petition seeks to intervene to assert counterclaims against Bank of New York Mellon for persistent fraud, securities fraud and breach of fiduciary duty.

Did you say F-f-f-fraud?  That’s right.  The elephant in the room during the putback debates of the last three years has been the specter of fraud.  Sure, mortgage bonds are performing abysmally and the underlying loans appears largely defective when investors are able to peek under the hood, but did the banks really knowingly mislead investors or willfully obstruct their efforts to remedy these problems?  Schneiderman thinks so.  He accuses BoNY of violating:

Executive Law § 63(12)’s prohibition on persistent fraud or illegality in the conduct of business: the Trustee failed to safeguard the mortgage files entrusted to its care under the Governing Agreements, failed to take any steps to notify affected parties despite its knowledge of violations of representations and warranties, and did so repeatedly across 530 Trusts. (Petition to Intervene at 9)

By calling out BoNY for failing to enforce investors’ repurchase rights or help investors enforce those rights themselves, the AG has turned a spotlight on the most notoriously uncooperative of the four major RMBS Trustees.  Of course, all of the Trustees have engaged in this type of heel-dragging obstructionism to some degree, but many have softened their stance.

since investors started getting more aggressive in threatening legal action against them.  BoNY, in addition to remaining resolute in refusing to aid investors, has now gone further in trying to negotiate a sweetheart deal for Bank of America without allowing all affected investors a chance to participate.  This has drawn the ire of the nation’s most outspoken financial cop.

And lest you think that the NYAG focuses all of his vitriol on BoNY, Schneiderman says that BofA may also be on the hook for its conduct, both before and after the issuance of the relevant securities.  The Petition to Intervene states that:

Countrywide and BoA face liability for persistent illegality in:
(1) repeatedly breaching representations and warranties concerning loan quality;
(2) repeatedly failing to provide complete mortgage files as it was required to do under the Governing Agreements; and
(3) repeatedly acting pursuant to self-interest, rather than
investors’ interests, in servicing, in violation of the Governing Agreements. (Petition to Intervene at 9)

Though Countrywide may have been the culprit for breaching reps and warranties in originating these loans, the failure to provide loan files and the failure to service properly post-origination almost certainly implicates the nation’s largest bank.  And lest any doubts remain in that regard, the AG’s Petition also provides, “given that BoA negotiated the settlement with BNYM despite BNYM’s obvious conflicts of interest, BoA may be liable for aiding and abetting BNYM’s breach of fiduciary duty.” (Petition at 7) So much for Bank of America’s characterization of these problems as simply “pay[ing] for the things that Countrywide did.

As they say on late night infomercials, “but wait, there’s more!”  In a step that is perhaps even more controversial than accusing Countrywide’s favorite Trustee of fraud, the AG has blown the cover off of the issue of improper transfer of mortgage loans into RMBS Trusts.  This has truly been the third rail of RMBS problems, which few plaintiffs have dared touch, and yet the AG has now seized it with a vice grip.

In the AG’s Verified Pleading in Intervention (hereinafter referred to as the “Pleading,” and well worth reading), Schneiderman pulls no punches in calling the participating banks to task over improper mortgage transfers.  First, he notes that the Trustee had a duty to ensure proper transfer of loans from Countrywide to the Trust.  (Pleading ¶23).  Next, he states that, “the ultimate failure of Countrywide to transfer complete mortgage loan documentation to the Trusts hampered the Trusts’ ability to foreclose on delinquent mortgages, thereby impairing the value of the notes secured by those mortgages. These circumstances apparently triggered widespread fraud, including BoA’s fabrication of missing documentation.”  (Id.)  Now that’s calling a spade a spade, in probably the most concise summary of the robosigning crisis that I’ve seen.

The AG goes on to note that, since BoNY issued numerous “exception reports” detailing loan documentation deficiencies, it knew of these problems and yet failed to notify investors that the loans underlying their investments and their rights to foreclose were impaired.  In so doing, the Trustee failed to comply with the “prudent man” standard to which it is subject under New York law.  (Pleading ¶¶28-29)

The AG raises all of this in an effort to show that BoNY was operating under serious conflicts of interest, calling into question the fairness of the proposed settlement.  Namely, while the Trustee had a duty to negotiate the settlement in the best interests of investors, it could not do so because it stood to receive “direct financial benefits” from the deal in the form of indemnification against claims of misconduct.  (Petition ¶¶15-16) And though Countrywide had already agreed to indemnify the Trustee against many such claims, Schneiderman states that, “Countrywide has inadequate resources” to provide such indemnification, leading BoNY to seek and obtain a side-letter agreement from BofA expressly guaranteeing the indemnification obligations of Countrywide and expanding that indemnity to cover BoNY’s conduct in negotiating and implementing the settlement.  (Petition ¶16)  That can’t be good for BofA’s arguments that it is not Countrywide’s successor-in-interest.

I applaud the NYAG for having the courage to call this conflict as he sees it, and not allowing this deal to derail his separate investigations or succumbing to the political pressure to water down his allegations or bypass “third rail” issues.  Whether Judge Kapnick will ultimately permit the AG to intervene is another question, but at the very least, this filing raises some uncomfortable issues for the banks involved and provides the investors seeking to challenge the deal with some much-needed backup.  In addition, Schneiderman has taken pressure off of the investors who have not yet opted to challenge the accord, by purporting to represent their interests and speak on their behalf.  In that regard, he notes that, “[m]any of these investors have not intervened in this litigation and, indeed, may not even be aware of it.” (Pleading ¶12).

As for the investors who are speaking up, many could take a lesson from the no-nonsense language Schneiderman uses in challenging the settlement.  Rather than dancing around the issue of the fairness of the deal and politely asking for more information, the AG has reached a firm conclusion based on the information the Trustee has already made available: “THE PROPOSED SETTLEMENT IS UNFAIR AND INADEQUATE.” (Pleading at II.A)  Tell us how you really feel.

[Author’s Note: Though the proposed BofA settlement is certainly a landmark legal proceeding, there is plenty going on in the world of RMBS litigation aside from this case. While I have been repeatedly waylaid in my efforts to turn to these issues by successive major developments in the BofA case, I promise a roundup of recent RMBS legal action in the near future.  Stay tuned…]

Article taken from The Subprime Shakeout – http://www.subprimeshakeout.com

 

SIMON JOHNSON: OCC SELLS OUT TO BANKS: CONSUMERS DON’T COUNT

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CONSUMERS DON’T COUNT

EDITOR’S COMMENT: Fascism is a system in which the government is essentially run by business. The premise of fascism is that successful commerce (as measured by the government that is controlled by business) leads to a successful society. Italy tried it and we know what happened there. Like anywhere else,  including the United States, without the government being the referee in the marketplace, it is only BIG BUSINESS that succeeds — leaving small business, entrepreneurs, innovation, and consumers to eat dirt.

When regulators know their next job, and their future prospects will come from the banks they are regulating they essentially submit themselves to the control of their future employers. That is what has happened in banking. That is what has happened with our government. And that is why the elephant in the living room is being ignored.

The current PLAYBOOK of the banks, duly followed by most regulators and virtually all members of congress and virtually all legislatures around the country (except Hawaii?), is looking for a way out of the mortgage mess by having regulators intervene in what is essentially state law and what has clearly been gross negligence at best, and malfeasance or criminal activity on the part of the banks at worst. The victims are clearly identified — investors who bought the falsely valued mortgage bonds that were nothing like what was described and homeowners who bought the falsely valued loan products based upon falsely valued real estate in deals that were nothing like what was described.

In short, the Banks wish to use their unbridled control over government and in particular the regulators, to redefine banking, risk law and morality so that they can escape the criminal prosecution that followed the savings and loan scandal of the 1908’s where over 800 bankers went to jail. (yes that’s right, as a class, they have a prior criminal record, so this time their punishment should be worse).

While the main action is in court where the banks are losing ground every day just by looking at the truth, the facts, the evidence and the results of their mean-spirited creation of the illusion of securitization, citizens (consumers, past and present) must be ever vigilant and raise hell when they are doing something that is plainly bad for the country and bad for our children and grandchildren. Let your representatives and the regulators know in writing that you don’t approve of the job they are doing regulating the banks or in the handling of the foreclosure crisis which now looks like it will persist for decades.

The goal is NOT to preserve the health of the banks at all costs. The goal, as clearly set forth in our constitution and in case law going back centuries, is to protect and serve the members of the society that have agreed to a form of governing themselves. If that goal changes, then government is spurious. Government becomes our jailers instead of our protectors and if they won’t protect us against financial terrorism and we let them, what is to prevent them from deciding that it is “best for the country” (meaning themselves) to cease protecting us from anything else, including military threat.

May 19, 2011, 5:00 am

When Regulators Side With the Industries They Regulate

By SIMON JOHNSON
Today's Economist

Simon Johnson, the former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund, is the co-author of “13 Bankers.”

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency is one the most important bank regulators in the United States — an independent agency within the Treasury Department that is responsible for “national banks” (for more on who regulates what in the United States, see this primer).

Over the last decade, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency repeatedly demonstrated that it was very much on the side of banks, for example with regard to fending off attempts to impose more consumer protection. (James Kwak and I covered this in “13 Bankers,” and those details have not been disputed by the agency or anyone taking its side.)

After suffering some serious and well-deserved loss of prestige during the financial crisis of 2007-9, the comptroller’s office survived the Dodd-Frank reform legislation and is now back to pushing the same agenda as before. In its view and that of its senior staff — including key people who remain from before the crisis — the “safety and soundness” of banks requires, above all, not a lot of protection for consumers.

This is a mistaken, anachronistic and dangerous belief.

Probably the most egregious mistake made by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency during the subprime boom was to push back against state officials who wanted to curtail malpractice in housing loans, including predatory lending.

The comptroller’s office ultimately lost that case before the Supreme Court, but its delaying action meant that an important potential brake on abuse and excess was not available — which contributed to the worst business practices that took hold in 2006 and 2007 (see this nice summary or Eliot Spitzer’s account).

Naturally, post-debacle the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency talks an ostensibly better game but, as Joe Nocera put it, “it sure looks as though the country’s top bank regulator is back to its old tricks.” In discussions regarding a potential settlement on mortgage foreclosures — and how they have been handled — the comptroller’s office has supported an outcome that is more favorable to the banks (see the Nocera column for more details).

Now it is again insisting that federal regulation pre-empts the ability of states to regulate in a way that would protect consumers.

In a letter on May 12 to Senator Thomas Carper, Democrat of Delaware, the agency asserted that its pre-emption regulations are consistent with the Dodd-Frank Act (see this interpretation by Sidley Austin, a law firm, which I draw on). There is a lot of legalese in the letter but the basic issue is simple — are states allowed to protect their consumers vis-à-vis national banks, or do they have to rely on the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, despite its weak track record?

The comptroller’s office is clear — the states are pre-empted, meaning that national comptroller regulations will always overrule them on the issues that matter. (As a technical matter, the issue comes down to what is known as visitation: whether state-level authorities can gain access to bank documents if the bank or the comptroller’s office has not already determined that there is a problem.)

The American Bankers Association was, not surprisingly, delighted: “The O.C.C.’s action helps clarify the rules of the road for national banks and how they serve their customers.”

Richard K. Davis
, chief executive of U.S. Bancorp and then chairman of the Financial Services Roundtable, a powerful lobbying group, emphasized the importance of the pre-emption issue to national banks in March 2010, during the Dodd-Frank financial reform debate in the Senate: “If we had one thing to fight for, it would be to protect pre-emption.”

It is hard to know which would seem more incredible to a second grader: that we left in place the same agency that was responsible for a significant part of past misbehavior, or that this agency seems determined to continue with the same philosophy and policies.

The problem is not that the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency sees its primary duty as the “safety and soundness” of the financial system. Rather, the danger to the public arises because it has consistently taken the view that the best way to protect banks — and keep them out of financial trouble — is to allow them to be harsh with consumers.

This is worse than short-sighted — it completely ignores all externalities, such as how business practices and ethics evolve, and it pays no attention to even the most basic macroeconomic dynamics, such as the fact that we have a credit cycle during which we should expect lenders to “race to the bottom” in terms of standards.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency should have been abolished by Dodd-Frank. Unfortunately, it is too late for Congress to revisit this issue. President Obama should at the very least nominate a new head of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency — the job has been open since August of last year — and a serious reformer could make a great deal of difference.

Under its current leadership and with its current approach, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency is putting our financial system into harm’s way. The lessons of 2007-9 have been completely lost on it. As Talleyrand said of the Bourbons, “They have learned nothing and forgotten nothing.”

REGISTER OF DEEDS JEFF THIGPEN (NC) AND JOHN O’BRIEN (MA): REQUIRE ALL PAST AND PRESENT MERS ASSIGNMENTS TO BE FILED

COMBO Title and Securitization Search, Report, Documents, Analysis & Commentary SEE LIVINGLIES LITIGATION SUPPORT AT LUMINAQ.COM

GET COMBO TITLE AND SECURITIZATION SEARCH, REPORT, ANALYSIS ON LUMINAQ

SEE 60-minutes-securitization-property-titles-are-a-train-wreck

GETTING CLOSER TO THE TRUTH

EDITORIAL COMMENT: Every day we take a little more lipstick off the pig and discover, of all things, A PIG! This is a basic challenge to Wall Street that is so simple and so right that there is nothing to do but obey — but they won’t. If all the MERS transactions are recorded, it would not only recover billions in unpaid recording and registration fees, but trigger other tax liabilities on Federal, State and Local levels. The whole REMIC exemption is based upon the REMIC vehicle being closed within 90 days.

Oops! Nearly all REMIC (SPV, TRUST) vehicles are still open (i.e., empty) after many years. And Wall Street’s fees taken under the cover of the REMIC transactions and hidden from all, would be painfully obvious resulting not only in monumental income tax liability but liability for fraudulent sale of securities, appraisal fraud on the property, RICO and many other causes of action too numerous to mention (see Causes of Action on left side of this Blog).

But that is just a dream. There is no way they can record all 80 million MERS transactions because many of them don’t actually exist. In the end, the issue is simple — are we going to sacrifice a system of title recordation in place for centuries with an exemption (get out of  jail free) card for Wall Street and thus create commercial chaos for decades or centuries to come? Or are we going to let the chips fall where they will? If the chips fall naturally, some people will make money and some people will lose money. Some people will be satisfied and some people will be mad as hell. That’s what happens in a free market, isn’t it?

All we are offered is POLICY argument that says POLICY is more important than the law. That has never been true in theory. But now the only way out for Wall Street is to make it true in theory as well as in practice. Abandoning the separate but equal powers of the judiciary and thus removing one leg of the three legged stool the founders created when they launched the USA would be the single most important element in the destruction of the country as it is presently constituted — causing a secession battle and the same problems that Russia had when stopped being the Soviet Union.

Basically Wall Street is saying “we went to all this trouble and expense to cheat and deceive you and we ought to be able to keep it. Screw you if you think you are getting any of it back.” The government is nodding its head like a head on a spring in the back seat of the car. The people are saying we want governance not pie-splitting. How this will all end up is going to be interesting and profound. Unless we apply the rule of law suggested simply by applying the requirement of recording transactions in a public registry, we will have about as much confidence in the stability of U.S. commerce as there is in any of the third world countries.

Every PONZI scheme fails. All efforts by Wall Street and the government controlled by Wall Street have failed to find an alternative way around the rule of law that doesn’t strike at the heart of our constitutional system. All the people who lose money in a PONZI scheme wish the scheme had gone on just long enough for THEM to get their money back and someone else to lose THEIR money. That’s where we are, folks, and the time to end every PONZI scheme is immediately before another person gets hurt.

These foreclosures are virtually all based on factually false and fraudulent representations, documentation, and premises. Practically none of the “mortgages” are legal and if any one of them was singularly the subject of a quiet title action, the homeowner would win on the merits, based upon the facts. It is only because of the volume of transactions that legislators and bureaucrats are scurrying around looking for a novel way out of this scam, because they are getting “benefits” from Wall Street. The requirement of recording, will expose the truth: (1) that the only real parties to the transaction are not present in any existing documents and (2) that the existing documents describe transactions that never actually took place. They can’t record these documents because most states make it a criminal offense to record, execute, witness or notarize fraudulent documents.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Greensboro, NC

April 7, 2011

Contact:

Jeff Thigpen, Guilford County Register of Deeds

Ph. 336-451-5300

Ph. 336-641-3239

jthigpe@co.guilford.nc.us

REGISTER OF DEEDS JEFF THIGPEN (NC) AND JOHN O’BRIEN (MA) ASK 50 STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL FORECLOSURE WORK GROUP TO REQUIRE ALL PAST AND PRESENT MERS ASSIGNMENTS TO BE FILED!

JOHN L. O’BRIEN, JR.                                                                                                          JEFF L. THIGPEN
Register of Deeds                                                                                                                    Register of Deeds

Commonwealth of Massachucetts                                                                            Guilford County, North Carolina
Phone: 978-542-1704                                                                                                           Phone: 336-451-5300
Fax: 978-542-1706                                                                                                                  Fax: 336-641-5778
website:
www.salemdeeds.com website: www.guilforddeeds.com

April 6, 2011

The Honorable Tom Miller
Iowa Attorney General
1305 E. Walnut Street
Des Moines IA 50319

Dear Attorney General Miller,

We appreciate your leadership in the mortgage foreclosure working group, as part of a coordinated national effort by states, to review the practice of “robo-signing” within the mortgage servicing industry.   We understand this investigation is nearing conclusion, but we want to implore you to act on a very important issue to homeowners across the country.

As County Land Record Recorders in Massachusetts and North Carolina, we have been gravely concerned about the role of the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems (MERS) in not only foreclosure proceedings, but as it undermines the legislative intent of our offices as stewards of land records.   MERS tracks more than 60 million mortgages across the United States and we believe it has assumed a role that has put constructive notice and the property rights system at risk.    We believe MERS undermines the historic purpose of land record recording offices and the “chain of title” that assures ownership rights in land records.

As a result, we are asking as part of your probe, that this task force and the National Association of Attorney Generals require that all past and present MERS assignments of deeds of trust/mortgages be filed in local recording offices throughout the United States immediately.  Assignments are required by statute to be filed in Massachusetts, however they are not currently required to be recorded in North Carolina.   We feel, that it is important that the Registers of Deeds should have representatives at the table before any settlement is discussed or agreed to as it relates to MERS failure to record assignments and pay the proper fees.

This action would serve three specific purposes.   First, the filing of all assignments would help recover the chain of title that determines property ownership rights that has been lost and clouded over during the past 13 years because of the scheme that MERS has set in place.  Second, transparency and confidence in ownership rights would be restored and this would prevent the infringement upon those rights by others.   Third, this action would support a return to sound fundamentals in our economy between the financial services industry and public recording offices.

MERS has defended their practices by saying that they were helping the registries of deeds by reducing the amount of paperwork that needed to be recorded. This claim is outrageous.  This is help we did not ask for, nor was it help that we needed.  It is very clear that the only ones that they were helping were themselves. Over the past 10-12 years, recording offices across the United States have upgraded their internal and external technology to meet the demands of lenders, title underwriters, title searchers and citizens.  In fact, in 1998 the Southern Essex District Registry of Deeds in Massachusetts became the first registry of deeds to provide both document images and indices available to the public, 24 hours a day, free of charge on the world-wide-web. In doing so, the Registry received a Computerworld Smithsonian Award which recognized the innovative use of technology to benefit society. In 2009, the Guilford County Register of Deeds was given a Local Government Federal Credit Union Productivity Award by the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners for their technological innovations.  Nationally, over 93% of the public land records are up to date and current, according to Ernest Publishing.

As of today, there are over 600 recording jurisdictions, covering 43% of the US population that have incorporated an eRecording model into their document recording operations.   We believe these jurisdictions cover nearly 80% of the volume of assignments that should be recorded.  The remaining areas could be covered quickly, with legislation requiring such action by state legislatures.

Quite frankly, we believe this can and should be done.  It’s the right thing to do.

In the coming weeks, we will be working with our national organizations, the National Association of County Recorders, Election Officials and Clerks (NACRC) and the International Association of Clerks, Recorders, Election Officials, and Treasurers (IACREOT) to take the same position.   We are also sending a copy of this letter to the National Conference on State Legislatures (NCSL) and the National Association of Counties (NACO).

Thank you for your immediate attention.

Sincerely,

Jeff L.Thigpen
Guilford County Register of Deeds, NC

John O’Brien
Southern Essex District Registry of Deeds, MA

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SOURCE: Jeff Thigpen

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