DOJ Probing Mortgage Data Processing Firms LPS FKA FIDELITY BK 5-13-09 Part 1

DOJ Probing Mortgage Data Processing Firms LPS FKA FIDELITY BK 5-13-09 Part 1

DOJ Probing Mortgage Data Processing Firms LPS FKA FIDELITY BK 5-13-09 Part 1

DOJ Probing Mortgage Data Processing Firms

By Peg Brickley Of DOW JONES DAILY BANKRUPTCY REVIEW

The Department of Justice is conducting a nationwide probe of the company whose automated systems handle half the mortgages in the U.S., looking for evidence Lender Processing Services Inc. (LPS) has “improperly directed” the actions of lawyers in bankruptcy court.

The Jacksonville, Fla., company was spun out last year from Fidelity National Information Services Inc. (FIS), a financial technology giant that is also under scrutiny for its role in court actions, according to documents filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Philadelphia.

Although the companies say they are providers of electronic information services, the U.S. trustee believes LPS and Fidelity play a “much greater” role in court actions where thousands of homes are at risk of foreclosure, according to Bankruptcy Judge Diane Weiss Sigmund.

“The thoughtless mechanical employment of computer-driven models and communications to inexpensively traverse the path to foreclosure offends the integrity of our American bankruptcy system,” Sigmund wrote in a decision released Wednesday, April 15.

A spokeswoman for Fidelity did not respond to requests seeking comment on the investigation by the Office of the U.S. Trustee, an arm of the Department of Justice whose mission includes safeguarding the integrity of the bankruptcy courts.

Michelle Kersch, a spokeswoman for LPS, said the U.S. trustee has “advised outside counsel for LPS that it is seeking to better understand LPS’ role.” In an e-mail, Kersch pointed out that the judge held the lawyers, not LPS, responsible for the problems in the case before her.

The probe of the mortgage technology operation surfaced in a Philadelphia case after Sigmund started asking questions about the source of false court filings that came from HSBC Mortgage Corp. In pursuit of homeowners Niles and Angela Taylor, HSBC filed the wrong mortgage, gave incorrect payment amounts and claimed the Taylors had missed monthly payments. This “was simply not true,” Sigmund wrote in a 58-page decision.

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