FREE HOUSE?

Judges may be biased in favor of “national security” (i.e., protecting the banks), but they have a surprisingly low threshold of tolerance when they are confronted by the bank’s argument that they don’t have to accept the money and that it is the bank’s option as to whether to accept the money or proceed with the foreclosure. To my knowledge that argument has lost 100% of the time. And THAT means the homeowner was able to get the proverbial free house or otherwise settle under seal of confidentiality (which might include the “free house.”)

all too often the Golden Rule of Mortgage Foreclosure is simply ignored and the foreclosure goes ahead as if the rule were not the statutory law of every jurisdiction in the United States — Douglas Whaley

Listen to the Last Neil Garfield Show at http://tobtr.com/s/9673161

Get a consult! 202-838-6345

https://www.vcita.com/v/lendinglies to schedule CONSULT, leave message or make payments.
 
THIS ARTICLE IS NOT A LEGAL OPINION UPON WHICH YOU CAN RELY IN ANY INDIVIDUAL CASE. HIRE A LAWYER.
—————-

The article below demonstrates (with edits from me) just how “hairy” these issues get. Things that laymen presume to be axiomatic don’t even exist in the legal world. I just sent my son a mug that says “Don’t confuse your Google search with my medical degree.” The same could be said for law. You might have discovered something that appears right to you but only a lawyer with actual experience can tell you if it will fly — remember that the bumblebee, according to the known laws of aerodynamics — is incapable of flying. Yet it flies seemingly unconcerned about our laws of aerodynamics. Similar to the lack of concern judges have, as if they were bumblebees, for the laws of contract and negotiation of instruments.

“Be careful what you wish for.” We must not give the banks a condition that they can satisfy with a fake. If the statute says that they must come up with the original promissory note, or the encumbrance is automatically lifted by a Clerk’s signature, then that means that (a) the debt still exists (b) the note could still be enforced with a lost note affidavit (which lies about the origination of the “loan” and subsequent nonexistent transactions), and (c) the debt can still be enforced.

A suit on the note or the debt that is successful will yield a Final Judgment, which in turn can be recorded in the county records. A further action for execution against the property owner will cause execution to issue — namely the judgment becomes a judgment lien that can now be foreclosed with no note whatsoever. The elements of a judgment lien foreclosure are basically (I have the Judgment, the statute says I can record it and foreclose on it).

There are homestead exemptions in many states. Whereas Florida provides a total homestead exemption except in bankruptcy court (up to $125,000 value), Georgia provides very little protection to the property owner which means that Georgia property owners are vulnerable to losing their homes if they don’t pay a debt that has been reduced to a Final Judgment and filed as a Judgment lien.

So the upshot is this: if you ask for the original note they might simply change their routines so that they produce the fabricated original earlier rather than later. Proving that it is a fake is not easy to do, but it can be done. The problem is that even if you prove the note is fabricated, the debt still remains. And in the current climate that means that any “credible” entity can step into the void created by the Wall Street banks and claim ownership of the debt for the purpose of the lawsuit.

What you want to do and in my opinion what you must do is focus on the identity of the creditor in addition to the the demand for the “original” note. When you couple that with tender of the amount demanded (under any one of the scenarios we use in our AMGAR programs) on the industry practice of demanding the identity of the creditor before anyone receives payment, then you really have something going.

But the risk element for tender MUST be present or it will likely be brushed aside who sees it as merely a gimmick — using the state law regarding tender as an offensive tool to get rid of the encumbrance and thus prevent foreclosure.

*

So the commitment is to pay off or refinance the alleged debt conforming to the industry standard of giving estoppel information — with the name of the creditor, where the payment should be sent, and the amount demanded by the creditor, and per diem, escrow and other information.

*

The inability and unwillingness of anyone to name a creditor has been credited with eliminating both the foreclosure and the mortgages in several dozen cases.

*

Judges may be biased in favor of “national security” (i.e., protecting the banks), but they have a surprisingly low threshold of tolerance when they are confronted by the bank’s argument that they don’t have to accept the money and that it is the banks option as to whether to accept the money or proceed with the foreclosure. To my knowledge that argument has lost 100% of the time. And THAT means the homeowner was able to get the proverbial free house or otherwise settle under seal of confidentiality (which might include the “free house.”)

Here is the UCC article by Douglas Whaley. [Words in brackets are from the Livinglies editor and not from Mr. Whaley]

the Golden Rule of Mortgage Foreclosure: the Uniform Commercial Code forbids foreclosure of the mortgage unless the creditor possesses the properly-negotiated original promissory note. If this can’t be done the foreclosure must
stop.
 *
all too often the Golden Rule of Mortgage Foreclosure is simply ignored and the foreclosure goes ahead as if the rule were not the statutory law of every jurisdiction in the United States.1
 *
Why is that? The answer is almost too sad to explain. The problem is that the Uniform Commercial Code is generally unpopular in general, and particularly when it comes to the law of negotiable instruments (checks and promissory notes) contained in Article Three of the Code. Most lawyers were not trained in this law when in law school (The course on the subject, whether called “Commercial Paper” or “Payment Law,” is frequently dubbed a “real snoozer” and skipped in favor or more exotic subjects), and so the only exposure to the topic attorneys have occurs, if at all, in bar prep studies (where coverage is spotty at best). Thus many foreclosures occur without it occurring to anyone that the UCC has any bearing on the issue.
 *
If the defendant’s attorney announces that the Uniform Commercial Code requires the production of the original promissory note, the judge may react by saying something like, “You mean to tell me that some technicality of negotiable instruments law lets someone who’s failed to pay the mortgage get away with it if the promissory note can’t be found, and that I have to slow down my overly crowded docket in the hundreds of foreclosure cases I’ve got pending to hear about this nonsense?” It’s a wonder the judge doesn’t add, “If you say one more word about Article Three of the UCC you’ll be in contempt of court!”
 *
The debt is created by the signing of a promissory note (which is governed by Article Three of the Uniform Commercial Code); the home owner will be the maker/issuer of the promissory note and the lending institution will be payee on the note. There is a common law maxim that “security follows the debt.” This means that it is presumed that whoever is the current holder of the promissory note (the “debt”) is entitled to enforce the mortgage lien (the “security”). The mortgage is reified as a mortgage deed which the lender should file in the local real property records so that the mortgage properly binds the property not only against the mortgagor but also the rest of the world (this process is called “perfection” of the lien).1
 *
{EDITOR’S NOTE: Technically the author is correct when he states that a debt is created by the signing of a promissory note governed by Article 3 of the Uniform Commercial Code. But it is also true that the note is merely a written instrument that memorializes the “loan contract” and which in and unto itself constitutes evidence of the debt.
 *
This means that some sort of transaction with a monetary value to both sides must have taken place between the two parties on the note — the maker (borrower) and the payee (the lender). If no such transaction has in fact occurred then, ordinarily the note is worthless and unenforceable. But in the event that a third party purchases the note for value in good faith and without knowledge of the borrowers defenses, the note essentially and irrevocably becomes the debt and not merely an evidence of the debt. In that case the note is treated as the debt itself for all practical purposes.
 *
Such a purchaser would be entitled to the exalted status of holder in due course. Yet if the borrower raises defenses that equate to an assertion that the note should be treated as void because there was no debt (the maker didn’t sign it or the maker signed it under false pretenses — i.e. fraud in the execution) then in most cases the HDC status won’t prevail over the real facts of the case..The corollary is that if there was no debt there must have been no loan.
 *
This would be fraud in the inducement which moves the case into a gray area where public policy is to protect the innocent third party buyer of the note. All other defenses raised by borrowers are affirmative defenses (violations of lending statutes, for example) raising additional issues that were not presented nor implied in the complaint  enforce the note or the nonjudicial procedure in which the note is being enforced by nonjudicial foreclosure.}
 *
The bankers all knew the importance of the mortgage, and supposedly kept records as to the identity of the entities to whom the mortgage was assigned. But they were damn careless about the promissory notes, some of which were properly transferred whenever the mortgage was, some of which were kept at the originating bank, some of which were deliberately destroyed (a really stupid thing to do), and some of which disappeared into the black hole of the financial collapse, never to be seen again.
 *
Filing fees in real property record offices average $35 every time a new document is filed. The solution was the creation of a straw-man holding company called Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems [MERS]. MERS makes no loans, collects no payments, though it does sometimes foreclose on properties (through local counsel). Instead it is simply a record-keeper that allows its name to be used as the assignee of the mortgage deed from the original lender, so that MERS holds the lien interest on the real property. While MERS has legal title to the property [EDITOR’S NOTE: this assertion of title is now back in a grey area as MERS does not fulfill the definition of a beneficiary under a deed of trust nor a mortgagor under a mortgage deed.], it does not pretend to have an equitable interest. At its headquarters in Reston, Va., MERS (where it has only 50 full time employees, but deputizes thousands of temporary local agents whenever needed) supposedly keeps track of who is the true current assignee of the mortgage as the securitization process moves the ownership from one entity to another.3
 *
Meanwhile the homeowner, who has never heard of MERS, is making payment to the [self proclaimed] mortgage servicer (who forwards them to whomever MERS says is the current assignee of the mortgage) [or as is more likely, forwards the proceeds of payments to the underwriter who sold bogus mortgage bonds, on which every few months another bank takes the hit on a multibillion dollar fine]..

Article 3 of the Uniform Commercial Code could not be clearer when it comes to the issue of mortgage note foreclosure. When someone signs a promissory note as its maker (“issuer”), he/she automatically incurs the obligation in UCC §3-412 that the instrument will be paid to a “person entitled to enforce” the note.5″Person entitled to enforce”—hereinafter abbreviated to “PETE”—is in turn defined in §3-301:

“Person entitled to enforce” an instrument means (i) the holder of the instrument, (ii) a nonholder in possession of the instrument who has the rights of a holder, or (iii) a person

not in possession of the instrument who is entitled to enforce the instrument pursuant to Section 3-309 or 3-418(d) . . . .

[Editors’ note: the caveat here is that while the execution of a note creates a liability, it does not create a liability for a DEBT. The note creates a statutory liability while the debt creates a liability to repay a loan. Until the modern era of fake securitization, the two were the same and under the merger doctrine the liability for the debt was merged into the execution of the note because the note was payable to the party who loaned the money.

And under the merger doctrine, the debt is NOT merged into the note if the parties are different — i.e., ABC makes the loan but DEF gets the paperwork. Now you have two (2) liabilities — one for the debt that arose when the “borrower” received payment or received the benefits of payments made on his/her behalf and one for the note which is payable to an entirely different party. Thus far, the banks have succeeded in making the circular argument that since they are withholding the information, there is not way for the “borrower” to allege the identity of the creditor and thus no way for the “borrower” to claim that there are two liabilities.]

Three primary entities are involved in this definition that have to do with missing promissory notes: (1) a “holder” of the note, (3) a “non-holder in possession who has the rights of a holder, and (3) someone who recreates a lost note under §3-309.6

A. “Holder”

Essentially a “holder” is someone who possesses a negotiable instrument payable to his/her order or properly negotiated to the later taker by a proper chain of indorsements. This result is reached by the definition of “holder” in §1-201(b)(21):

(21) “Holder” means:

(A) the person in possession of a negotiable instrument that is payable either to bearer or to an identified person that is the person in possession . . . .

and by §3-203:

(a) “Negotiation” means a transfer of possession, whether voluntary or involuntary, of an instrument by a person other than the issuer to a person who thereby becomes its holder.

(b) Except for negotiation by a remitter, if an instrument is payable to an identified person, negotiation requires transfer of possession of the instrument and its indorsement by the holder. If an instrument is payable to bearer, it may be negotiated by transfer of possession alone.

The rules of negotiation follow next.

B. “Negotiation”

A proper negotiation of the note creates “holder” status in the transferee, and makes the transferee a PETE. The two terms complement each other: a “holder” takes through a valid “negotiation,” and a valid “negotiation” leads to “holder” status. How is this done? There are two ways: ablankindorsement or aspecialindorsement by the original payee of the note.

 *
With a blank indorsement (one that doesn’t name a new payee) the payee simply signs its name on the back of the instrument. If an instrument has been thus indorsed by the payee, anyone (and I mean anyone) acquiring the note thereafter is a PETE, and all the arguments explored below will not carry the day. Once a blank indorsement has been placed on the note by the payee, all later parties in possession of the note qualify as “holders,” and therefore are PETEs.7
 *
Only if there is a valid chain of such indorsements has a negotiation taken place, thus creating “holder” status in the current possessor of the note and making that person a PETE. With the exception mentioned next, the indorsements have to be written on the instrument itself (traditionally on the back).
 *
the allonge must be “affixed to the instrument” per §3-204(a)’s last sentence. It is not enough that there is a separate piece of paper which documents the unless that piece of paper is “affixed” to the note.10What does “affixed” mean? The common law required gluing. Would a paper clip do the trick? A staple?11
 *
a contractual agreement by which the payee on the note transfers an interest in the note, but never signs it, cannot qualify as an allonge (it is not affixed to the note), and no proper negotiation of the note has occurred. If the indorsement by the original mortgagee/payee on the note is not written on the note itself, there must be an allonge or the note has not been properly negotiated, and the current holder of that note is not a PETE (since there is no proper negotiation chain). THE LACK OF SIGNATURE BECOMES A SERIOUS ISSUE IN THE CURRENT ERA BECAUSE OF WHAT HAS BEEN DUBBED “ROBO-SIGNING” THE EXACT DEFINITION OF WHICH HAS NOT YET BEEN DETERMINED BUT IT REFERS TO THE STAMPED OR EXECUTED SIGNATURE BY ONE POSSESSES NO KNOWLEDGE OR INTEREST IN THE CONTENTS OF THE INSTRUMENT AND ESPECIALLY WHEN THE PERSON HAS NO EMPLOYMENT OR OTHER LEGALR RELATIONSHIP WITHT EH ENTITY ON WHOSE BEHALF THE INDORSEMENT WAS EXECUTED. As stated in one case the base of robo-signing is that it is a forgery and therefore amounts to no signature at all which means the note has not really be negotiated, all appearances to the contrary. ]
 *
The Code never requires the person making an indorsement to have an ownership interest in the note13 (though of course the payee normally does have such an interest), but simply that he/she is the named payee, and the Code clearly allows for correction of a missing indorsement. [EDITOR’S NOTE: Here is where the enforcement tot he note and the ability to enforce the mortgage diverge, See Article 9. The possessor of a note that is properly signed by a party to whom the note was payable or indorsed commits no offense by executing an indorsemtn in blank (bearer) or to another named indorse. The author is correct when he states that ownership of the note is not required to enforce the note; but the implication that the right to foreclose a mortgage works the same way is just plain wrong, to wit: foreclosure is ALL about ownership of the mortgage and Article 9 provisions specifically state the ownership means that the purported holder has paid value for it]. 
 *
  1. 13   Thieves can qualify as a “holder” of a negotiable instrument and thereafter validly negotiate same to another; see Official Comment 1 to 3-201, giving an example involving a thief.
  2. 1.  Subsections (a) and (b) are based in part on subsection (1) of the former section 3-202.  A person can become holder of an instrument when the instrument is issued to that person, or the status of holder can arise as the result of an event that occurs after issuance.  “Negotiation” is the term used in article 3 to describe this post-issuance event.  Normally, negotiation occurs as the result of a voluntary transfer of possession of an instrument by a holder to another person who becomes the holder as a result of the transfer. Negotiation always requires a change in possession of the instrument because nobody can be a holder without possessing the instrument, either directly or  through an agent.  But in some cases the transfer of possession is involuntary and in some cases the person transferring possession is not a holder.  In defining “negotiation” former section 3-202(1) used the word “transfer,” an undefined term, and “delivery,” defined in section 1-201(14) to mean voluntary change of possession. Instead, subsections (a) and (b) used the term “transfer of possession” and subsection (a) states that negotiation can occur by an involuntary transfer of possession.  For example, if an instrument is payable to bearer and it is stolen by Thief or is found by Finder, Thief or Finder becomes the holder of the instrument when possession is obtained.  In this case there is an involuntary transfer of possession that results in negotiation to Thief or Finder. 
  3. [EDITOR’S NOTE: The heading for UCC 3-201 indicates it relates to “negotiation” of a note, not necessarily enforcement. The thief might be able to negotiate the note but enforcement can only be by a party with rights to enforce it. While a holder is presumed to have that right, it is a rebuttable presumption. Hence either a borrower or the party from whom the note was stolen can defeat the thief in court. But if the negotiation of the note includes payment of value in good faith without knowledge of the borrower’s defenses or complicity in the theft, then the successor to the thief is a holder in due course allowing enforcement against the maker. The borrower or victim of theft is then left with actions at law against the thief.]
 

ARE BONDHOLDERS LOOKING TO FIRE OCWEN?

For further information please call 954-495-9867 or 520-405-1688

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

see Fund Manager’s Letter to Bondholders Detailing Sins of Ocwen

Chickens are coming home to roost. Just read the letter. Anyone who is litigating a case where Ocwen is involved in any way in the chain of title or ownership of the loan paperwork should read this in detail. This could be used as support for arguments that the books and records of the servicer or foreclosing party should not be given the luxury of certain legal presumptions. The presumption that there is in fact a servicing de fault called by the bondholders may enough to force the parties actually prove the nonexistent transactions about which their assignments and endorsements are written.

Why? That is the  question everyone should be asking. If Ocwen was not servicing for the benefit of the REMIC Trust (and the bondholders) then who are they really working for? Themselves? Or are they taking instructions from the underwriter who is also the Master Servicer that committed fraud in the first place on the investors and then on the borrowers, hiding behind the mask and layers of “originators,” “aggregators” and other conduits and sham entities? My opinion is that this is all part of the same scheme to distance themselves both from the transaction in which the bondholder gave money to the underwriter in exchange for the mortgage bonds and the “loans” that were funded not by the trust but directly from investor money that should have been given to the trust. And Ocwen’s selfish interest is to make the most out of “servicer advances” which is their cut of the pie — money that was actually advanced from investor money to pay them with their own money.

Here are some excerpts from the fund manager’s letter —

The facts establishing these Events of Default are irrefutable.  For example, Ocwen recently “stipulate[d]” and “agree[d]” in a consent order with the New York Department of Financial Services to violations of law and to engaging in imprudent servicing practices.  In addition, the California Department of Business Oversight has commenced proceedings to suspend Ocwen’s servicer license in California, a significant source of loans in the RMBS trusts that generate the advances that collateralize the payments to Noteholders.  These (and other) agencies’ findings and enforcement actions demonstrate Ocwen’s systemic, long-standing and continuing servicing failures and disregard of applicable and analogous laws.

I. Ocwen’s Violations of Law and Imprudent Servicing Practices

A. New York Investigations

Facts admitted by Ocwen establish multiple breaches of various covenants in the Transaction Documents and Designated Servicing Agreements and multiple defaults or Events of Default under the Indenture.  On December 19, 2014, Ocwen and Ocwen Financial Corporation admitted to facts that give rise to material breaches and defaults of the covenants and agreements in the above-referenced provisions.  Ocwen’s stipulations are memorialized in the Consent Order Pursuant to New York Banking Law § 44 (the “2014 Consent Order”) that Ocwen entered into with the New York State Department of Financial Services (“NYSDFS”).[3]  Specifically, the 2014 Consent Order sets forth numerous facts to which Ocwen has admitted

B. California Investigations

Two different California regulators have found that Ocwen violated California law.  On a webpage answering “frequently asked questions” related to Ocwen’s settlement with the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau and attorneys general from 49 states and the District of Columbia (discussed below), the California Attorney General states, “[w]e believe that Ocwen violated federal and state laws against unfair and deceptive practices.  Ocwen’s unlawful conduct hurt consumers who have had home loans serviced by Ocwen, Litton, and Homeward.  For example, Ocwen made consumers pay improper fees and charges, caused unreasonable delays and expenses when consumers asked for help to avoid foreclosure, and wrongly refused to give consumers loan modifications that could have helped those consumers stay in their homes.”[6]

C. Consumer Finance Protection Bureau and State Attorneys General Investigation

Additionally, in December 2013, the federal Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) and the attorneys general for 49 states and the District of Columbia filed a Complaint against Ocwen and Ocwen Financial Corporation in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.[15]  The CFPB and state attorneys general alleged “violations” of (i) “state law prohibiting unfair and deceptive consumer practices with respect to loan servicing,” (ii) “state law prohibiting unfair and deceptive consumer practices with respect to foreclosure processing,” (iii) the Consumer Protection Act of 2010, 12 U.S.C. § 5481 et seq., “with respect to loan servicing,” and (iv) the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010, 12 U.S.C. § 5481 et seq., “with respect foreclosure processing.”[16]  Specifically, the CFPB and the attorneys general alleged that Ocwen engaged in the following acts and practices:

D. Federal Monitor Investigation

On December 16, 2014, a monitor appointed in United States, et al. v. Bank of America Corp., et al., No. 12-CV-361 (D.D.C. 2012) (the “Federal Monitor”) issued the “Monitor’s Interim Report Regarding Compliance by Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC as Successor by Assignment from Defendants Residential Capital LLC, GMAC Mortgage LLC, and Ally Financial Inc. for the Measurement Periods Ended March 31, 2014 and June 30, 2014” (the “Monitor Report”).  The Monitor Report addressed, among other things, the “independence, competency and capacity” of Ocwen’s internal quality control review group (“IRG”).  (Monitor Report at 7.)  According to the Federal Monitor, IRG’s processes and procedures “lacked the critical keys to integrity mandated in the Enforcement Terms [as defined in the Monitor Report],” namely “an internal quality control group that is independent from the line of business whose performance is being measured and an internal quality control group with the appropriate authority, privileges and knowledge to effectively implement and conduct the reviews and metric assessments contemplated in the Enforcement Terms.”  (Id. at 13 (quotations omitted).)  The Federal Monitor identified a “dysfunctional and chaotic working environment” during the first half of 2014, noting “serious problems and flaws in the processes and procedures” employed by the IRG.  (Id. at 13.)  Based on these findings, the Federal Monitor notified Ocwen that the IRG had not correctly implemented the Enforcement Terms in a number of “material respects.”  (Id. at 14.)

II. The Market Reaction

The rating agencies have cited the NYSDFS’s investigation of Ocwen as a reason for their downgrading of Ocwen’s servicer rating.  The rating downgrades have increased the risk that Ocwen will be terminated as a servicer and/or subservicer.[21]  For example, in October 2014—months before Ocwen signed the 2014 Consent Order—Standard & Poor’s downgraded Ocwen’s servicer rating to “average” following a letter by the NYSDFS to Ocwen “stating that during its review of Ocwen’s mortgage servicing practices it had uncovered serious issues with Ocwen’s systems and processes, including Ocwen’s backdating of potentially hundreds of thousands of foreclosure-related letters to borrowers.”[22]  Standard & Poor’s concluded that, based on the facts uncovered in the NYSDFS investigation, Ocwen’s “internal practices and policies may not meet industry or regulatory standards.”[23]  On October 22, 2014, Moody’s also downgraded its assessments of Ocwen “as a primary servicer of subprime residential mortgage loans to SQ3 from SQ3+ and as a special servicer of residential mortgage loans to SQ3 from SQ3+.”[24]  According to Moody’s, “[t]he assessment actions follow [the NYSDFS’] allegations,” which “also raise the risk of actions that restrict Ocwen’s activities, the levying of monetary fines against Ocwen, or additional actions that negatively affect Ocwen’s servicing stability.”[25]

If the Bank of England wants this information, how can this court deem it irrelevant?

SEE ALSO BOE PAPER ON ABS DISCLOSURE condocmar10

If the Bank of England wants this information, how can this court deem it irrelevant? NOTE: BOE defines investors as note-holders.
information on the remaining life, balance and prepayments on a loan; data on the current valuation and loan-to-value ratios on underlying property and collateral; and interest rate details, like the current rate and reset levels. In addition, the central bank said it wants to see loan performance information like the number and value of payments in arrears and details on bankruptcy, default or foreclosure actions.
Editor’s Note: As Gretchen Morgenstern points out in her NY Times article below, the Bank of England is paving the way to transparent disclosures in mortgage backed securities. This in turn is a guide to discovery in American litigation. It is also a guide for questions in a Qualified Written Request and the content of a forensic analysis.
What we are all dealing with here is asymmetry of information, which is another way of saying that one side has information and the other side doesn’t. The use of the phrase is generally confined to situations where the unequal access to information is intentional in order to force the party with less information to rely upon the party with greater information. The party with greater information is always the seller. The party with less information is the buyer. The phrase is most often used much like “moral hazard” is used as a substitute for lying and cheating.
Quoting from the Bank of England’s “consultative paper”: ” [NOTE THAT THE BANK OF ENGLAND ASSUMES ASYMMETRY OF INFORMATION AND, SEE BELOW, THAT THE INVESTORS ARE CONSIDERED “NOTE-HOLDERS” WITHOUT ANY CAVEATS.] THE BANK IS SEEKING TO ENFORCE RULES THAT WOULD REQUIRE DISCLOSURE OF
borrower details (unique loan identifiers); nominal loan amounts; accrued interest; loan maturity dates; loan interest rates; and other reporting line items that are relevant to the underlying loan portfolio (ie borrower location, loan to value ratios, payment rates, industry code). The initial loan portfolio information reporting requirements would be consistent with the ABS loan-level reporting requirements detailed in paragraph 42 in this consultative document. Data would need to be regularly updated, it is suggested on a weekly basis, given the possibility of unexpected loan repayments.
42 The Bank has considered the loan-level data fields which
it considers would be most relevant for residential mortgage- backed securities (RMBS) and covered bonds and sets out a high-level indication of some of those fields in the list below:
• Portfolio, subportfolio, loan and borrower unique identifiers.
• Loan information (remaining life, balance, prepayments).
• Property and collateral (current valuation, loan to value ratio
and type of valuation). Interest rate information (current reference rate, current rate/margin, reset interval).
• Performance information (performing/delinquent, number and value of payments in arrears, arrangement, litigation or
bankruptcy in process, default or foreclosure, date of default,
sale price, profit/loss on sale, total recoveries).
• Credit bureau score information (bankruptcy or IVA flags,
bureau scores and dates, other relevant indicators (eg in respect of fraudulent activity)).

The Bank is also considering making it an eligibility requirement that each issuer provides a summary of the key features of the transaction structure in a standardised format.
This summary would include:
• Clear diagrams of the deal structure.
Description of which classes of notes hold the voting rights and what proportion of noteholders are required to pass a resolution.
• Description of all the triggers in the transaction and the consequences of them being breached.
• What defines an event of default.
• Diagramatic cash-flow waterfalls, making clear the priority
of payments of principal and interest, including how these
can change in consequence to any trigger breaches.
52 The Bank is also considering making it an eligibility
requirement that cash-flow models be made available that
accurately reflect the legal structure of an asset-backed security.
The Bank believes that for each transaction a cash-flow model
verified by the issuer/arranger should be available publicly.
Currently, it can be unclear as to how a transaction would
behave in different scenarios, including events of default or
other trigger events. The availability of cash-flow models, that
accurately reflect the underlying legal structure of the
transaction, would enable accurate modelling and stress
testing of securities under various assumptions.

March 19, 2010, NY Times

Pools That Need Some Sun

By GRETCHEN MORGENSON

LAST week, the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco sued a throng of Wall Street companies that sold the agency $5.4 billion in residential mortgage-backed securities during the height of the mortgage melee. The suit, filed March 15 in state court in California, seeks the return of the $5.4 billion as well as broader financial damages.

The case also provides interesting details on what the Federal Home Loan Bank said were misrepresentations made by those companies about the loans underlying the securities it bought.

It is not surprising, given the complexity of the instruments at the heart of this credit crisis, that it will require court battles for us to learn how so many of these loans could have gone so bad. The recent examiner’s report on the Lehman Brothers failure is a fine example of the in-depth investigation required to get to the bottom of this debacle.

The defendants in the Federal Home Loan Bank case were among the biggest sellers of mortgage-backed securities back in the day; among those named are Deutsche Bank; Bear Stearns; Countrywide Securities, a division of Countrywide Financial; Credit Suisse Securities; and Merrill Lynch. The securities at the heart of the lawsuit were sold from mid-2004 into 2008 — a period that certainly encompasses those giddy, anything-goes years in the home loan business.

None of the banks would comment on the litigation.

In the complaint, the Federal Home Loan Bank recites a list of what it calls untrue or misleading statements about the mortgages in 33 securitization trusts it bought. The alleged inaccuracies involve disclosures of the mortgages’ loan-to-value ratios (a measure of a loan’s size compared with the underlying property’s value), as well as the occupancy status of the properties securing the loans. Mortgages are considered less risky if they are written against primary residences; loans on second homes or investment properties are deemed to be more of a gamble.

Finally, the complaint said, the sellers of the securities made inaccurate claims about how closely the loan originators adhered to their underwriting guidelines. For example, the Federal Home Loan Bank asserts that the companies selling these securities failed to disclose that the originators made frequent exceptions to their own lending standards.

DAVID J. GRAIS, a partner at Grais & Ellsworth, represents the plaintiff. He said the Federal Home Loan Bank is not alleging that the firms intended to mislead investors. Rather, the case is trying to determine if the firms conformed to state laws requiring accurate disclosure to investors.

“Did they or did they not correspond with the real world at the time of the sale of these securities? That is the question,” Mr. Grais said.

Time will tell which side will prevail in this suit. But in the meantime, the accusations illustrate a significant unsolved problem with securitization: a lack of transparency regarding the loans that are bundled into mortgage securities. Until sunlight shines on these loan pools, the securitization market, a hugely important financing mechanism that augments bank lending, will remain frozen and unworkable.

It goes without saying that after swallowing billions in losses in such securities, investors no longer trust what sellers say is inside them. Investors need detailed information about these loans, and that data needs to be publicly available and updated regularly.

“The goose that lays the golden eggs for Wall Street is in the information gaps created by financial innovation,” said Richard Field, managing director at TYI, which develops transparency, trading and risk management information systems. “Naturally, Wall Street opposes closing these gaps.”

But the elimination of such information gaps is necessary, Mr. Field said, if investors are to return to the securitization market and if global regulators can be expected to prevent future crises.

While United States policy makers have done little to resolve this problem, the Bank of England, Britain’s central bank, is forging ahead on it. In a “consultative paper” this month, the central bank argued for significantly increased disclosure in asset-backed securities, including mortgage pools.

The central bank is interested in this debate because it accepts such securities in exchange for providing liquidity to the banking system.

“It is the bank’s view that more comprehensive and consistent information, in a format which is easier to use, is required to allow the effective risk management of securities,” the report stated. One recommendation is to include far more data than available now.

Among the data on its wish list: information on the remaining life, balance and prepayments on a loan; data on the current valuation and loan-to-value ratios on underlying property and collateral; and interest rate details, like the current rate and reset levels. In addition, the central bank said it wants to see loan performance information like the number and value of payments in arrears and details on bankruptcy, default or foreclosure actions.

The Bank of England recommended that investor reports be provided on “at least a monthly basis” and said it was considering making such reports an eligibility requirement for securities it accepts in its transactions.

The American Securitization Forum, the advocacy group for the securitization industry, has been working for two years on disclosure recommendations it sees as necessary to restart this market. But its ideas do not go as far as the Bank of England’s.

A group of United States mortgage investors is also agitating for increased disclosures. In a soon-to-be-published working paper, the Association of Mortgage Investors outlined ways to increase transparency in these instruments.

Among its suggestions: reduce the reliance on credit rating agencies by providing detailed data on loans well before a deal is brought to market, perhaps two weeks in advance. That would allow investors to analyze the loans thoroughly, then decide whether they want to buy in.

THE investors are also urging that loan-level data offered by issuers, underwriters or loan servicers be “accompanied by an auditor attestation” verifying it has been properly aggregated and calculated. In other words, trust but verify.

Confidence in the securitization market has been crushed by the credit mess. Only greater transparency will lure investors back into these securities pools. The sooner that happens, the better.

Pot Calls Kettle Black: Deutsch V BOA

See DEUTSCHEBANKv BANKOFAMERICA

This is an action for (1) damages for breach of contract resulting from BOA’s
failure to secure and safeguard over $1.25 billion worth of cash and mortgage loans that it was contractually obligated to secure on behalf of DB and (2) contractual indemnity for the losses caused by BOA’s negligent performance of its duties to DB.

Ocala was established for the sole purpose of providing funding for mortgage
loans originated by Taylor, Bean & Whitaker Mortgage Corp. (“TBW”). Mortgages purchased by Ocala were required to conform to the requirements of, and were intended to be sold to, the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (“Freddie Mac”), a government-sponsored entity that is implicitly backed by the full faith and credit of the United States government.

WET AND DRY MORTGAGES

One vital mechanism protecting DB against risk was the requirement that DB’s investment be at all times over-collateralized by a combination of cash and “dry” mortgages purchased by Ocala. “Dry” mortgages are mortgages that have been reviewed by the lender and are actually in the lender’s possession at the time the mortgage loan is acquired by the lender. By contrast, “wet” funding of mortgages is riskier from the lender’s perspective because financing is provided to a borrower before the mortgage note has been received and reviewed by the lender (i.e., when the ink on the mortgage note is still “wet”). The lender providing wet funding for TBW was Colonial Bank (“Colonial”). In making its investment in Ocala on June 30, 2008, DB insisted that its investment be used only for dry mortgages.

DB trusted that BOA, one of the nation’s largest and most well-known financial institutions, would perform the gatekeeper function reasonably and responsibly. DB’s confidence was echoed by Moody’s Investors Service, which, in assigning Ocala an investment grade rating, emphasized the importance of BOA’s role and stated that risk to DB and other noteholders was “mitigated by the resources, capability and credit strength of BOA as the trustee, collateral agent, depositary and custodian to provide critical program support services, including: certifying the borrowing base and checking the delinquency triggers before the issuance of Ocala’s ABCP; checking in the loan files and creating a collateral transmittal report; and managing the orderly wind-down of the program.” Moody’s ABCP Market Review (July 13, 2009). see Asset Backed Commercial Paper Review

As it turned out, the faith of DB and other investors was misplaced. In myriad ways, BOA failed to carry out its various duties designed to protect DB’s investment, and these failures substantially damaged Ocala and DB’s investment.


%d bloggers like this: