Prommis Holdings LLC Files for Bankruptcy Protection

I have not followed Prommis Holdings closely but I can recall that some people have sent in reports that Prommis was the named creditor in some foreclosure proceedings. The reason I am posting this is because the bankruptcy filings including the statement of affairs will probably give some important clues to the real money story on those mortgages where Prommis was involved. I’m sure you will not find the loan receivables account that are mysteriously absent from virtually all such filings and FDIC resolutions.

And remember that when the petition for bankruptcy is filed it must include a look-back period during which any assignments or transfers must be disclosed. So there is a very narrow window in which the petitioner could even claim ownership of the loan with or without any fabricated evidence.

US Trustees in bankruptcy are making a mistake when they do not pay attention to alleged assignments executed AFTER the petition was filed and sometimes AFTER the plan is confirmed or the company is liquidated. Such an assignment would indicate that either the petitioner lied about its assets or was committing fraud in executing the assignment — particularly without the US Trustee’s consent and joinder.

The Courts are making the same mistake if they accept such an assignment that does not have US Trustees consent and joinder, besides the usual mistake of not recognizing that the petitioner never had a stake in the loan to begin with. The same logic applies to receivership created by court order, the FDIC or any other “estate” created.

That would indicate, as I have been saying all along, that the origination and transfer paperwork is nothing more than paper and tells the story of fictitious transactions, to wit: that someone “bought” the loan. Upon examination of the money trail and demanding wire transfer receipts or canceled checks it is doubtful that you find any consideration paid for any transfer and in most cases you won’t find any consideration for even the origination of the loan.

Think of it this way: if you were the investor who advanced money to the underwriter (investment bank) who then sent the investor’s funds down to a closing agent to pay for the loan, whose name would you want to be on the note and mortgage? Who is the creditor? YOU! But that isn’t what happened and there is nothing the banks can do and no amount of paperwork can cover up the fact that there was consideration transferred exactly once in the origination and transfer of the loans — when the investors put up the money which the investment bank acting as intermediary sent to the closing agent.

The fact that the closing documents and transfer documents do not show the investors as the creditors is incompatible with the realities of the money trail. Thus the documents were fabricated and any signature procured by the parties from the alleged borrower was procured by fraud and deceit — causing an immediate cloud on title.

At the end of the day, the intermediaries must answer one simple question: why didn’t you put the investors’ name or the trust name on the note and mortgage or a “valid” assignment when the loan was made and within the 90 day window prescribed by the REMIC statutes of the Internal Revenue Code and the Pooling and Servicing Agreement? Nobody would want or allow someone else’s name on the note or mortgage that they funded. So why did it happen? The answer must be that the intermediaries were all breaching every conceivable duty to the investors and the borrowers in their quest for higher profits by claiming the loans to be owned by the intermediaries, most of whom were not even handling the money as a conduit.

By creating the illusion of ownership, these intermediaries diverted insurance mitigation payments from investors and diverted credit default swap mitigation payments from the investors. These intermediaries owe the investors AND the borrowers the money they took as undisclosed compensation that was unjustly diverted, with the risk of loss being left solely on the investors and the borrowers.

That is an account payable to the investor which means that the accounts receivables they have are off-set and should be off-set by actual payment of those fees. If they fail to get that money it is not any fault of the borrower. The off-set to the receivables from the borrowers caused by the receivables from the intermediaries for loss mitigation payments reduces the balance due from the borrower by simple arithmetic. No “forgiveness” is necessary. And THAT is why it is so important to focus almost exclusively on the actual trail of money — who paid what to whom and when and how much.

And all of that means that the notice of default, notice of sale, foreclosure lawsuit, and demand for payments are all wrong. This is not just a technical issue — it runs to the heart of the false securitization scheme that covered over the PONZI scheme cooked up on Wall Street. The consensus on this has been skewed by the failure of the Justice department to act; but Holder explained that saying that it was a conscious decision not to prosecute because of the damaging effects on the economy if the country’s main banks were all found guilty of criminal fraud.

You can’t do anything about the Holder’s decision to prosecute but that doesn’t mean that the facts, strategy and logic presented here cannot be used to gain traction. Just keep your eye on the ball and start with the money trail and show what documents SHOULD have been produced and what they SHOULD have said and then compare it with what WAS produced and you’ll have defeated the foreclosure. This is done through discovery and the presumptions that arise when a party refuses to comply. They are not going to admit anytime soon that what I have said in this article is true. But the Judges are not stupid. If you show a clear path to the Judge that supports your discovery demands, coupled with your denial of all essential elements of the foreclosure, and you persist relentlessly, you are going to get traction.

Can I Borrow Your Law License?

COMBO Title and Securitization Search, Report, Documents, Analysis & Commentary COMBO Title and Securitization Search, Report, Documents, Analysis & Commentary

“In its S.E.C. filing, Prommis alerted potential investors that it could face challenges from bar associations, prosecutors or homeowners that its relationship with its law firms constituted the “unauthorized practice of law” or involved “impermissible fee sharing” arrangements.”

“The relationship between the Wall Street specialists and a law firm appears to work like this: A private equity firm, in a transaction worth tens of millions of dollars, buys a wide range of services used by the law firm, like its accounting, computer data, document processing and title search departments. Then, a subsidiary of that private equity firm or an entity it controls makes money by providing those services back to that law firm or other businesses for a fee.”

EDITOR’S COMMENT: It was a just a matter of time. Ask any of the anti-foreclosure mills how long and how much money it takes to build up an effective machine to counter the rush to foreclosure, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that Stern, Bosco, Baum, Watson et al were getting their money from someplace, and that someplace HAD to be Wall Street. Wall Street effectively owns the foreclosure mills. Bar prosecutors in many states are taking a hard look at the referral of these cases for UPL (Unauthorized Practice of Law) and conspiracy. It’s a felony in most states and there are actual manuals published in many of these states that instruct prosecutors on how to prosecute UPL. It isn’t sexy, but it has a lot of teeth, as I have mentioned before, comparing to how they got Al Capone on income tax evasion.

So the owner of small law firm gets an offer he can’t refuse. We’ll buy out the guts of your firm whether it exists or not. We’ll put in the money to build it up with people, equipment, space, etc. We’ll lease it back to you at a guaranteed amount of money that will make you rich. Just sit back and do nothing. we’ll do the rest. Combined with the admission that the decision as to whether a homeowner would be declared in default was “outsourced” to a computer rather than a person, the pieces are falling together like a jig saw. That decision-making process was also used to “decide” which institution would foreclose — to prevent the obvious inquiries from more than one foreclosure on the same house initiated in the name of two or more supposedly separate and distinct entities. The purpose is to provide “plausible deniability” to the people involved and technical hair-slitting defenses to keep their licenses, keep the money they made, and maintain control of the biggest title fraud in the history of the world.

October 20, 2010

Foreclosures Profit Some Equity Firms

By BARRY MEIER

With a surge in lawsuits against law firms specializing in foreclosures, a case in Mississippi is casting light on another aspect of the mortgage mess — the connection between Wall Street private equity firms and those law firms, often known as foreclosure mills.

The lawsuit on behalf of homeowners claims that Great Hill Partners, a private equity firm, has benefited from what the lawsuit calls an illegal fee-splitting arrangement between Prommis Solutions and several of the busiest foreclosure law firms it controls. Great Hills is the biggest stakeholder in Prommis, a company that acts as a middleman between mortgage servicers and law firms.

A lawyer for Prommis rejected that claim, and officials of Great Hill Partners did not respond to inquiries. But a review of public filings, company news releases and other public statements shows that several private equity firms or entities they control have stakes in the business operations of some of the busiest foreclosure law firms in New York, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia and Texas.

Some of those law firms — like the offices of David J. Stern of Plantation, Fla., and Steven J. Baum of Amherst, N.Y. — are among those that are either under scrutiny by law enforcement officials or face actions by homeowners contending that they used inaccurate or fraudulent mortgage-related documents. Both lawyers have denied any wrongdoing, and neither has been charged with a crime.

The influence, if any, that private investors are having on the practices of the foreclosure mills is not clear. But the issue is likely to be examined in coming months in lawsuits like the one in Mississippi and as a nationwide task force of state attorneys general start their inquiry into the accuracy of mortgage documents.

To maximize investment returns, private equity firms often squeeze down costs in the operations they acquire. And some legal experts suggest that could be a factor in the quality of legal documents generated by foreclosure mills.

“The concern is that you are pushing production down to least-cost producer,” said Susan Carle, a professor at American University Washington College of Law.

Tom Miller, the Iowa attorney general who is heading up the task force investigating questionable document practices, said he was not aware that private equity firms had acquired some foreclosure-related operations. While there is no law against such purchases, Mr. Miller said the issue could prove significant because it expanded the possibilities of where and how the foreclosure system failed.

“If this is happening, this is something we are concerned about and would want to find out more about it,” Mr. Miller said in a telephone interview.

The investors involved in foreclosure mills include a publicly traded investment fund, Ares Capital, as well as other midsized and small buyout firms like Great Hill Partners.

The involvement of private equity firms in the legal industry is not new. But their involvement with foreclosure mills appears to have started about five years ago, just as the housing market was starting to collapse and the number of foreclosure procedures was beginning to boom.

The relationship between the Wall Street specialists and a law firm appears to work like this: A private equity firm, in a transaction worth tens of millions of dollars, buys a wide range of services used by the law firm, like its accounting, computer data, document processing and title search departments. Then, a subsidiary of that private equity firm or an entity it controls makes money by providing those services back to that law firm or other businesses for a fee.

For example, about three years ago, Tailwind Capital, a private equity firm in Manhattan, acquired many of the business-related operations of a law firm near Buffalo run by Mr. Baum, which does one of the highest volumes of foreclosures in New York State. Soon afterward, the fund bought similar operations from one of Connecticut’s biggest foreclosure law firms, Hunt Leibert Jacobson of Hartford.

Ares Capital, which financed the move, is also now a co-investor in those assets, which are held in a Tailwind unit called Pillar Processing, a public filing indicates.

Similarly, a private equity firm in San Francisco, FTV Capital spearheaded a $27 million investment in 2007 in an entity that buys law firm business operations and then uses them to provide services back to firms specializing in “foreclosure, bankruptcy and eviction,” according to a news release issued by the firm.

“We have been keenly focused on the mortgage-default services space,” the buyout fund stated in a 2007 news release. “The space is important to our strategic investors which represent six of the top 10 mortgage investors/servicers.”

In an e-mail, a spokeswoman for FTV Capital said that company officials were not available for comment.

Law firms receive a relatively low fee from companies that service home loans, say about $1,200 a case for handling a foreclosure-related proceeding. But those fees can translate into big profits for lawyers and their private equity partners when tens of thousands of foreclosures are involved. The law firms and the private equity firms have structured these deals with an eye toward avoiding legal statutes and ethical rules like those that bar fee-splitting between lawyers and nonlawyers.

But that relationship has been challenged in the Mississippi lawsuit against Prommis and Great Hill Partners.

Another company, Lender Processing Services, is also accused in the lawsuit of illegally splitting fees with foreclosure law firms; it also denies doing so.

The roots of Prommis, based in Atlanta, trace back to 2006 when the company acquired the back-office operations of McCalla Raymer, one of the country’s biggest foreclosure law firms. Great Hill Partners states on its Web site that it was interested in the acquisition because it reflected a way for it to profit from the housing downturn.

In subsequent years, Prommis expanded its operations nationwide by buying the back-office operations of other major foreclosure law firms, according to a recent Securities and Exchange Commission filing made by the company in connection with a planned initial stock offering.

According to that June filing, Prommis now generates revenue by providing services like document processing to the same law firms that handle nearly all of the foreclosures initiated by the loan servicers with whom Prommis works.

In a telephone interview, Prommis’s general counsel, Richard J. Volentine Jr., said that the company did not split fees with its affiliated law firms and that those fees were paid directly to those firms by the loan servicers.

In its S.E.C. filing, Prommis alerted potential investors that it could face challenges from bar associations, prosecutors or homeowners that its relationship with its law firms constituted the “unauthorized practice of law” or involved “impermissible fee sharing” arrangements.

Prommis also stated in that filing that any steps that slowed the pace of foreclosures, like government programs that helped homeowners renegotiate loans, would hurt its revenue.

Julie Creswell contributed reporting.

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