2012 February 09 | FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA

Archive | February 9th, 2012

[VIDEO FAQ's] Schneiderman: Foreclosure Fraud Deal w/ Banks a ‘Down Payment’ – Rachel Maddow

[VIDEO FAQ's] Schneiderman: Foreclosure Fraud Deal w/ Banks a ‘Down Payment’ – Rachel Maddow

Bank are facing $100′s of Billions in potential liability!

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AURORA LOAN SERVS., LLC v. LOUIS | Ohio: Court of Appeals “No demonstration that Aurora is the note holder, Chain of Title Deficit – Theodore Schultz Affidavit”

AURORA LOAN SERVS., LLC v. LOUIS | Ohio: Court of Appeals “No demonstration that Aurora is the note holder, Chain of Title Deficit – Theodore Schultz Affidavit”

2012 Ohio 384

Aurora Loan Services, LLC, Appellee,

v.

Dion T. Louis, et al., Appellant.

C.A. No. L-10-1289.

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Sixth District, Lucas County.

Decided: February 3, 2012.

Darryl E. Gormley, for appellee.

Brandon S. Cohen, for appellant.

DECISION AND JUDGMENT

YARBROUGH, J.

I. INTRODUCTION

{¶ 1} Appellant Dion T. Louis appeals from a judgment of the Lucas County Court of Common Pleas, which granted summary judgment in favor of appellee, Aurora Loan Services, LLC (“Aurora”), and denied appellant’s cross-motion for summary judgment. Thereafter, the trial court entered a judgment and decree of foreclosure and ordered the property sold. For the reasons that follow, we reverse.

A. Facts and Procedural History

{¶ 2} On April 16, 1999, appellant entered into a contract with Mayflower d.b.a. Republic Bancorp Mortgage, Inc. to purchase a property located in Toledo, Ohio. Appellant signed a note that contained a promise to pay $33,750 plus interest at the rate of 10.825 percent per annum. In exchange, Mayflower received a mortgage against the property as security for repayment of the note. The mortgage was later assigned to Mayflower d.b.a. Union Mortgage Services, and the assignment was recorded on October 13, 1999. Sometime after 1999, Aurora began to service the loan and appellant made his monthly payments to it.

{¶ 3} In early 2009, appellant stopped making payments on the loan. Aurora contends that appellant’s default enabled them to exercise an “option” clause contained in the note and mortgage to accelerate the debt. On July 6, 2009, Aurora filed an action for repayment of the note and foreclosure on the mortgage. Aurora attached copies of the note and mortgage to its complaint. Both the note and mortgage were endorsed by and made payable to Mayflower. There was no mention of Aurora on either document. In addition, Aurora requested that the trial court declare it a real party in interest as the holder of the note and mortgage. Aurora also submitted a preliminary judicial report which revealed that the assignment of the mortgage from Mayflower to Aurora was not recorded, and an attempted recording on January 13, 2006, revealed that the chain of title was defective.

{¶ 4} On September 22, 2009, appellant answered the complaint and raised six affirmative defenses, including that Aurora failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted.

{¶ 5} On December 7, 2009, Aurora filed a motion for summary judgment in which it included an affidavit submitted by Cheryl Marchant, the vice president of Aurora. The affidavit states that Aurora exercised the “option” contained in the mortgage and note which were attached to the pleadings and had accelerated and called due the entire principal balance. The affidavit also declares that Marchant was authorized to make the affidavit and that she possessed personal knowledge of all of the facts therein.

{¶ 6} On December 28, 2009, appellant moved for summary judgment and filed a memorandum in opposition to Aurora’s motion for summary judgment based on the contention that Aurora lacked standing as a real party in interest. Appellant argued that Aurora’s first affidavit omitted the chain of title issues and did not address the issue of an assignment from Mayflower to Aurora. In response, on January 29, 2010, Aurora filed a brief in opposition to appellant’s motion for summary judgment, stating that Mayflower had intended to assign the mortgage to Aurora but the assignment was lost or unrecorded.

{¶ 7} Attached to its brief in opposition to appellant’s motion for summary judgment is an affidavit by Theodore Schultz, the assistant vice president of Aurora, as to the lost assignment of the mortgage. This second affidavit states that “[t]he Original Lender assigned its right, title and interest in the note to Mayflower * * * [w]hereas Mayflower assigned its right, title and interest in the note to Aurora.” The affidavit goes on to state that “[t]he original assignment of the Open-end Mortgage between Mayflower DBA Union Mortgage Services and Aurora Loan Services has been lost and or was not recorded.” The affidavit does not assert that Schultz had personal knowledge of the matters stated in the affidavit, nor does it provide the circumstances by which Schultz may have gained personal knowledge of the assignment. Since Mayflower is now out of business, Schultz asserts that a replacement assignment to confirm that it is the proper holder of the mortgage is unattainable. Schultz further asserts that Aurora is the holder of the promissory note in question.

{¶ 8} After considering the motions and affidavits, the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Aurora on August 30, 2010, in the amount of $30,472.27 plus interest on the principal amount at the rate of 10.825 percent per annum from January 1, 2009. In addition, the court found that Aurora had a valid lien and ordered the foreclosure of the property. The trial court reasoned that Aurora established its prima facie case when it submitted the affidavits as evidence. In so determining this, the trial court found that the burden shifted to appellant to show the existence of a genuine issue of material fact pursuant to Civ.R. 56(C). The trial court concluded that appellant “fail[ed] to bring any [additional] evidence under Civ.R. 56(C) to show a genuine issue of material fact” and denied appellant’s cross-motion for summary judgment.

B. Assignments of Error

{¶ 9} Appellant now appeals, asserting the following assignment of error:

The trial court erred in granting plaintiff-appellee’s motion for summary judgment because it failed to demonstrate that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law; the unrefuted Civ.R. 56 Evidence demonstrates, at the least, that a genuine issue of material fact exists as to whether plaintiff appellee is the equitable party in interest.

II. ANALYSIS

A. Standard of Review

{¶ 10} When reviewing a trial court’s summary judgment decision, the appellate court conducts a de novo review. Grafton v. Ohio Edison Co., 77 Ohio St.3d 102, 105, 671 N.E.2d 241 (1996). Summary judgment will be granted when there are no genuine issues of material fact, and when construing the evidence most strongly in favor of the nonmoving party, reasonable minds can only conclude that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Harless v. Willis Day Warehousing Co., 54 Ohio St.2d 64, 66-67, 375 N.E.2d 46 (1978).

{¶ 11} On a motion for summary judgment, the moving party has the burden of demonstrating that no genuine issue of material fact exists. Dresher v. Burt, 75 Ohio St.3d 280, 292, 662 N.E.2d 264 (1996). The moving party must point to some evidence in the record of the type listed in Civ.R. 56(C). Id. at 292-293. The evidence permitted to be considered is limited to the “pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, written admissions, affidavits, transcripts of evidence, and written stipulations of fact, if any, timely filed in the action * * *.” Civ.R. 56(C). The burden then shifts to the nonmoving party to provide evidence showing that a genuine issue of material fact does exist. Dresher at 293. See also Civ.R. 56(E).

B. Summary judgment improper

1. No demonstration that Aurora is the note holder

{¶ 12} In foreclosure actions, the real party in interest is the current holder of the note and mortgage. See, e.g., Deutsche Bank Natl. Trust Co. v. Greene, 6th Dist. No. E-10-006, 2011-Ohio-1976, ¶ 13. Civ.R. 17(A) requires that “a civil action must be prosecuted by the real party in interest,” that is, by a party “who can discharge the claim upon which the action is brought * * * [or] is the party who, by substantive law, possesses the right to be enforced.” (Citations omitted.) Discover Bank v. Brockmeier, 12th Dist. No. CA2006-057-078, 2007-Ohio-1552, ¶ 7. If an individual or one in a representative capacity does not have a real interest in the subject matter of the action, that party lacks the standing to invoke the jurisdiction of the court. State ex rel. Dallman v. Court of Common Pleas, Franklin Cty., 35 Ohio St.2d 176, 179, 298 N.E.2d 515 (1973), syllabus.

{¶ 13} In its complaint, Aurora alleged that it is the current holder of the note and mortgage. Nevertheless, the mortgage was not recorded and the title search revealed that the chain of title is deficient. In fact, Aurora admitted this in its complaint and asked the trial court for a declaratory judgment to establish that it is the holder of the note and mortgage. The only evidence submitted in support of Aurora’s motion for summary judgment were the Marchant and Schultz affidavits.

{¶ 14} In determining the sufficiency of these affidavits, we turn to the requirements set forth by Civ.R. 56.

{¶ 15} Pursuant to Civ.R. 56(C),

Summary judgment shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, written admissions, affidavits, transcripts of evidence, and written stipulations of fact, if any, timely filed in the action, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. No evidence or stipulation may be considered except as stated in this rule.

{¶ 16} Further, Civ.R. 56(E) provides:

Supporting and opposing affidavits shall be made on personal knowledge, shall set forth such facts as would be admissible in evidence, and shall show affirmatively that the affiant is competent to testify to the matters stated in the affidavit. Sworn or certified copies of all papers or parts of papers referred to in an affidavit shall be attached to or served with the affidavit. (Emphasis added.)

{¶ 17} Marchant does not assert or aver to any facts which support a finding that Aurora is the holder of the note or mortgage at issue. In fact, the note filed with her affidavit shows the following endorsement: “PAY WITHOUT RECOURSE TO THE ORDER OF: LIFE BANK BY: [ILLEGIBLE SIGNATURE] TIMOTHY A MERRITT, BRANCH MANAGER FOR MAYFLOWER D.B.A. UNION MORTGAGE SERVICES.” There is no explanation of any facts to illustrate how Aurora became the holder of the note. Rather, Marchant’s testimony is that “Aurora Loan Services, LLC has exercised the option contained in the note and mortgage and has accelerated and called due the entire principal balance due thereon.” This statement fails to establish Aurora as a real party in interest.

{¶ 18} Next, we turn to the Schultz affidavit and find that it is deficient in establishing Aurora’s status as a holder of the note and mortgage for three reasons.

{¶ 19} First, the Schultz affidavit states that: (1) “Aurora Loan Services LLC is the holder (`Holder’) of the following described promissory note (the `Note’): * * * Loan No: 0115933855 * * * Borrowers: Dion T. Louis, an unmarried man * * * Property address: 280 Knower St., Toledo, OH 43609 * * * Amount: $33,750.00;” and (2) “Mayflower DBA Union Mortgage Services assigned its right, title and interest in the note to Aurora.” A sworn or certified copy of the note was not attached or served with this affidavit as required by Civ.R. 56(E).

{¶ 20} Second, there is no explanation as to how Schultz came to know this information or whether he personally presided over appellant’s account. We note,

[t]he [affiant] need not have firsthand knowledge of the transaction, but must demonstrate [that] the [affiant] is sufficiently familiar with the operation of the business and with the circumstances of the record’s preparation, maintenance and retrieval, such that the witness can reasonably testify on the basis of this knowledge that the record is what it purports to be * * *. Wachovia Bank of Delaware, N.A. v. Jackson, 5th Dist. No. 2010-CA-00291, 2011-Ohio-3202, ¶ 36, citing State v. Patton, 3d Dist. No. 1-91-12, 1992 WL 42806 (Mar. 5, 1992).

{¶ 21} Moreover, Schultz’s position as assistant vice president of Aurora does not create a presumption that he had personal knowledge of the assignment from Mayflower to Aurora. For example, in TPI Asset Mgt. v. Conrad-Eiford, 193 Ohio App.3d 38, 2011-Ohio-1405, 950 N.E.2d 1018, ¶ 21, the affiant stated that “from my own personal knowledge the following facts are true as I verily believe, and * * * I am competent to testify to same.” The TPI court held that, regardless of the affiant’s position in the bank as team leader, the affidavits failed to demonstrate the particular basis on which the affiants gained their understanding of the facts. Id. at ¶ 23. Because the Schultz affidavit does not demonstrate that Schultz had personal knowledge of the assignment to Aurora, it does not meet the requirements for affidavits set forth in Civ.R. 56(E).

{¶ 22} Third, Schultz asserted that Aurora is the holder of the note, but failed to set forth any facts in support of this legal conclusion. Affidavits filed in support of summary judgment containing “inferences and bald assertions” rather than a “clear statement or documentation” proving that the original holder of the note and mortgage transferred its interest to Aurora are not sufficient to support a finding that Aurora is the holder of the note and mortgage. See First Union Natl. Bank v. Hufford, 146 Ohio App.3d 673, 678, 767 N.E.2d 1206 (2001) (inferences and bald assertions are insufficient evidence of a transfer of a note and mortgage). Furthermore, Schultz stated, “Mayflower DBA Union Mortgage Services assigned its right, title and interest in the note to Aurora Loan Services.” This statement is contradictory to the endorsement contained on the note which indicates that Mayflower d.b.a. Union Mortgage Services assigned the note to Life Bank.

{¶ 23} Ohio’s version of the Uniform Commercial Code governs who may enforce a note. R.C. 1301.01 et seq.[1] Article 3 of the UCC governs the creation, transfer and enforceability of negotiable instruments, including promissory notes secured by mortgages on real estate. Fed. Land Bank of Louisville v. Taggart, 31 Ohio St.3d 8, 10, 508 N.E.2d 152 (1987).

{¶ 24} Under the code, a “person entitled to enforce” an instrument means any of the following persons: (1) The holder of the instrument, (2) A non-holder in possession of the instrument who has the rights of the holder, (3) A person not in possession of the instrument who is entitled to enforce the instrument pursuant to Section 1303.38 or division (D) of section 1303.58 of the Revised Code. R.C. 1301.31.

{¶ 25} More specifically, under former R.C. 1301.01, “holder” means either of the following:

{¶ 26} “(a) if the instrument is payable to bearer, a person who is in possession of the instrument;

{¶ 27} “(b) if the instrument is payable to an identified person, the identified person when in possession of the instrument.” (Emphasis added.)

{¶ 28} Schultz failed to assert any facts indicating that Aurora is entitled to enforce the instrument. On the face of the note, it is impossible for Aurora to be a “holder” as defined by former R.C. 1301.01. The instrument is not bearer paper, and Aurora is not an identified person on the instrument. Thus, Aurora has failed to meet its Dresher burden of establishing that it is the current note holder.

2. No demonstration that Aurora is the mortgage holder

{¶ 29} “`Holder of the mortgage’ means the holder of the mortgage as disclosed by the records of the recorder or recorders of the county or counties in which the mortgaged premises are situated.” R.C. 5301.232(E)(3).

{¶ 30} In support of Aurora’s motion for summary judgment, Schultz, in his affidavit, stated: “The Loan is secured by an Open-end Mortgage dated 4/16/1999 Book 99 1465 at Page B11 Instrument 24635 in the County of Lucas, State of Ohio.” We note that a certified copy of the mortgage assignment was not attached to the Schultz affidavit as required by Civ.R. 56(E). Furthermore, in regards to the mortgage assignments, the preliminary judicial report filed on July 6, 2009, indicates that the mortgage was initially given to Mayflower d.b.a. Republic Bancorp Mortgage Inc., filed April 21, 1999, in File No. 99 1465B11 of the Lucas County Records. Thereafter, the mortgage was assigned to Mayflower d.b.a. Union Mortgage Services, and filed October 13, 1999, in File No. 99 3915C12 of the Lucas County Records.

{¶ 31} The report goes on to state:

Attempted assignment of mortgage to First Union National Bank as Trustee of the Amortizing Residential Collateral Mortgage Trust 2000-BC1, (by Life Bank), by separate instrument dated April 18, 2001 and filed April 18, 2001 in File No. 01 4794 E01 of Lucas County Records. There is no assignment of mortgage to Life Bank.

Attempted assignment of mortgage to Aurora Loan Services LLC FKA Aurora Loan Services Inc., (by Pacific Premier Bank, FSB, FKA Life Bank, FSB or Life Bank), by separate instrument dated January 13, 2006 and filed March 6, 2006 in file No. 20060306-0013641 of Lucas County Records. The chain of mortgage assignment is defective. (Emphasis added.)

{¶ 32} Thus, the record reflects that Aurora is unable to establish that there is no genuine issue of material fact as to whether it is the current holder of the mortgage, given the chain of assignments and transfers of the mortgage.

{¶ 33} Furthermore, courts have been reluctant to rely on affidavits as a basis for granting summary judgment in foreclosure actions where there is an absence of supporting evidence or circumstances. In DLJ Mtge. Capital, Inc. v. Parsons, 7th Dist. No. 07-MA-17, 2008-Ohio-1177, ¶ 17, the Seventh District Court of Appeals stated that summary judgment could not be granted for the mortgagee where there was no evidence of an assignment of the note and mortgage besides an affidavit by an employee. Although the employee presided over Parson’s account, the affidavit was deemed insufficient to support a motion for summary judgment because it failed to mention “how, when, or whether appellee was assigned the mortgage and note.” Id. Similarly, in First Union, 146 Ohio App.3d at 679, 767 N.E.2d 1206, the Third District Court of Appeals declined to grant summary judgment based exclusively on an affidavit where there was no evidence of an assignment to the mortgagee. The court stated that “though inferences could have been drawn from [the affidavit], inferences are inappropriate, insufficient support for summary judgment and are contradictory to the fundamental mandate that evidence be construed most strongly in favor of the nonmoving party.” Id. However, where other evidence of a transfer exists, such as a valid transfer of one instrument as evidence of the other, courts have relied on affidavits to confirm such facts. See, e.g., Greene, 6th Dist. No. E-10-006, 2011-Ohio-1976, at ¶ 15. In Greene, we held that the assignment of the mortgage, in conjunction with interlocking references in the mortgage and the note, transferred the note as well. We cannot find the same here. As in DLJ Mtge. and First Union, the affidavits in this case were the only evidence that a transfer of the note and mortgage occurred. As discussed, these affidavits fail to establish Aurora as the holder of either the note or the mortgage.

{¶ 34} We note that appellant also argues in his first assignment of error that, “[u]nder statute of frauds principles, Plaintiff-Appellee’s would have to show a signed `option’ or `assignment’ from Lender — Mortgage Holder — to be the real party in interest against Louis.” To support his argument, appellant claims that “without a signed document expressly granting Aurora an assignment in the mortgage to Louis’ property — the trial court cannot grant summary judgment based solely on Aurora’s (self-serving) affidavit.” However, it has been a longstanding rule in Ohio that whenever a promissory note is secured by a mortgage, the note constitutes the evidence of the debt and the mortgage is mere incident to the obligation. U.S. Bank Natl. Assn. v. Marcino, 181 Ohio App.3d 328, 2009-Ohio-1178, 908 N.E.2d 1032, ¶ 52, citing Edgar v. Haines, 109 Ohio St. 159, 164, 141 N.E. 837 (1923). Thus, a transfer of an obligation secured by a mortgage also acts as an equitable assignment of the mortgage, even though the mortgage is not assigned or delivered. Kuck v. Sommers, 59 Ohio Law Abs. 400, 100 N.E.2d 68, 75 (3d Dist.1950). Also, “`[s]ubsection (g) [of U.C.C. 9-203] codifies the common law rule that a transfer of an obligation secured by a security interest or other lien on personal or real property also transfers the security interest or lien.’” Marcino at ¶ 53, quoting Official Comment 9 to U.C.C. 9-203. Thus, there is no requirement that a signed assignment of a mortgage be contained in the record. Finally, both instruments that Aurora seeks to enforce were signed by appellant and an option in the mortgage enables the holder to accelerate the debt upon default. Therefore, we do not believe that the statute of frauds argument is pertinent to this appeal.

{¶ 35} In sum, Aurora submitted affidavits that fail to demonstrate that Aurora is the holder of the note or mortgage. Therefore, we hold that Aurora has failed to satisfy its initial burden of demonstrating that no genuine issue of material fact exists as to whether it is the real party in interest, and thus, summary judgment is inappropriate.

{¶ 36} Accordingly, appellant’s first assignment of error is well-taken.

III. CONCLUSION

{¶ 37} Because a genuine issue of material fact exists as to whether Aurora is a real party in interest, the judgment of the Lucas County Court of Common Pleas is reversed and this case is remanded to the trial court for further proceedings. Pursuant to App.R. 24, appellee is ordered to pay costs of this appeal.

Judgment reversed.

A certified copy of this entry shall constitute the mandate pursuant to App.R. 27. See also 6th Dist.Loc.App.R. 4.

Mark L. Pietrykowski, J., Arlene Singer, P.J. and Stephen A. Yarbrough, J., Concur.

[1] R.C. 1301.01 was repealed by Am.H.B. No. 9, 2011 Ohio Laws File 9, effective June 29, 2011. That act amended the provisions of R.C. 1301.01 and renumbered that section so that it now appears at R.C. 1301.201. Because R.C. 1301.201 only applies to transactions entered on or after June 29, 2011, we apply R.C. 1301.01 to this appeal.

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Alison Frankel: After mortgage settlement, MERS left out in the cold

Alison Frankel: After mortgage settlement, MERS left out in the cold

Not even close to how a family who is evicted in the cold!


Reuters Legal-

One of the last stumbling blocks to the $25 billion nationwide mortgage settlement formally announced Thursday was the suit New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed last week against Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems. As my tireless Reuters colleagues Aruna Viswanatha, Karen Freifeld, and Rick Rothacker reported Wednesday night, the five banks in the nationwide deal — three of which are defendants in Schneiderman’s MERS suit — pressured Schneiderman to drop his case, arguing that the national settlement resolves some of the allegations the AG’s suit raises. Schneiderman refused.

Indeed, when the settlement was announced this morning, claims against MERS were explicitly carved out; state attorneys general can go ahead with suits against the mortgage registry. MERS is as exposed as a kid locked out of the house without a coat in a snowstorm.

That’s significant because of a potentially multi-billion-dollar theory posited in MERS suits by the Massachusetts and Delaware AGs, as well as in a class action Bernstein Leibhard filed on behalf of Ohio county governments.

[REUTERS LEGAL]

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Adam Levitin: The Servicing Settlement: Banks 1, Public 0

Adam Levitin: The Servicing Settlement: Banks 1, Public 0

Credit Slips-

What are we to make of the servicing settlement announced today with much hoopla?  The short answer is not much.  The settlement is the large consumer fraud settlement ever, but it accomplishes remarkably little in terms of either alleviating the foreclosure crisis of holding to account those responsible for the housing bubble and subsequent foreclosure abuses.  As my Texas relatives say, it’s “All sizzle, no steak.” 

Instead, I think the settlement needs be seen as the conclusion to round one of an on-going struggle for accountability and reparations for the enormous damage the housing bubble did to the United States.  Whether we will ultimately see meaningful accountability and reparations in the end is very much in question.  Round two, featuring the Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities Fraud taskforce, could well be stillborn; the taskforce combines more motivated and more capable agencies, but it isn’t clear of the motivated can leverage the more capable or will be bogged down by them. But as for this settlement, if this is all that we get, it’s a big nothing. 

There are two big issues to parse in the settlement:  what does it cover and what sort of relief does it provide.  Not surprisingly, both are quite limited; the banks wouldn’t pay big dollars for a small release. 

[CREDIT SLIPS]

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Team Obama Represents the Banks, Not You: A Call to Action

Team Obama Represents the Banks, Not You: A Call to Action

Abigail C. Field-

The sweetheart deal the feds just finished forcing down the throat of the state AGs is only the latest piece of evidence–evidence enough to reach ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’–that your federal government works for the banks and not you. Team Obama has placed the economic interests of the banks and the freedom of bankers above your economic interests, the rule of law, and any notion of good faith, fair dealing and justice. They won’t admit it; Team Obama will run hard as champions of the 99% on all things, including being Tough On Banks! and Helping Homeowners! But neither is true, and it’s critical that you not believe them when they say it.

That said, please understand; I’m not hawking the Republicans: Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum are no better on banking and housing. The only candidate I heard make some sense on these issues was John Huntsman, and he’s no longer in the race. On banking and housing policy, we currently have no good candidates.

My slim hope for good bank and housing policy rests on you. If Team Obama is confronted with an informed and active electorate over the next several months–confronted with enough voters demanding good policy instead of easily disprovable talking points–I think it’s possible to goad a-scared-we-won’t-be-reelected Team Obama into actually doing good policy.

So what can you do? …

[REALITY CHECK]

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Dennis M. Kelleher: Robo-Signing Bank Settlement Is a Criminal Sell Out

Dennis M. Kelleher: Robo-Signing Bank Settlement Is a Criminal Sell Out

Les incompetent

Lets see there is Massive Fraud in:

Securitization

Origination

Force Placed Insurance

Foreclosures

Chain in Title

Taxes

…and this isn’t criminal?

 

HuffPO-

“Let me help a few victims I created by ripping them off and illegally throwing them out of their homes by false court filings that I swore were true.” That’s what the so-called mortgage settlement talks are really all about: fraud, perjury and crimes. That’s what these banks did and that’s what they are trying to buy their way out of.

The settlement discussions are the same: eliminate all or almost all liability for the bank and, most importantly, all bank officers and employees in exchange for a loan forgiveness or modification program. Think about this: the banks engaged in a years’ long pattern and practice of what can only be described as fraudulent if not criminal conduct that would put anyone else in prison for years if not decades, yet banks get to buy off the cops with some money to help just a few of the victims they created.

[HUFFINGTONPOST]

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Massachusetts Homeowners to Receive $318 Million in Relief as Part of State-Federal Agreement Over Unlawful Foreclosures and Loan Servicing

Massachusetts Homeowners to Receive $318 Million in Relief as Part of State-Federal Agreement Over Unlawful Foreclosures and Loan Servicing

AG Coakley Secures Additional “Carve Out” to Continue Litigation over “MERS” and “Ibanez” Claims

BOSTON – A $25 billion nationwide state-federal settlement over unlawful foreclosures, including robo-signing of documents, will bring an estimated $318 million dollars in assistance to Massachusetts borrowers, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.  Attorneys General from 49 states have agreed to join the settlement announced today in Washington, D.C. 

AG Coakley also secured an additional “carve out” to the agreement to allow her office to continue to pursue further relief in the courts against the banks over two Massachusetts-specific issues.  Those claims include initiating foreclosures without holding the actual mortgages (so-called “Ibanez” violations) and allegedly corrupting the land recording system through the use of the Mortgage Electronic Registration System (MERS).  The agreement will settle all other claims made as part of AG Coakley’s lawsuit against the five banks filed on December 1, 2011. 

“Fixing this foreclosure crisis is one of the most important things we can do to restore a healthy economy,” said AG Coakley. “In Massachusetts, this agreement provides for immediate relief and continued enforcement. The banks will provide an immediate infusion of millions of dollars in relief for struggling homeowners. It also allows our office to continue to pursue our claims against the banks for initiating illegal foreclosures in our state and corrupting our land court system. By no means is this settlement the end of our work seeking accountability and relief, as we are continuing to look at the practices of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and are participating in the state-federal task force investigating the practices that led to the collapse of our economy.”

Since 2007, AG Coakley has been a national leader in addressing the foreclosure crisis by holding banks and investment giants accountable for their role in the economic downturn.  Her office has already recovered more than $600 million in relief for Massachusetts homeowners and investors.  AG Coakley’s Office has ongoing investigations into the foreclosure crisis and will continue additional efforts to stabilize the housing market in Massachusetts.

 

NATIONAL STATE-FEDERAL SETTLEMENT

Through this national state-federal agreement, five major lenders are expected to provide approximately $14.6 million in cash payments to Massachusetts borrowers, $257 million worth of mortgage relief, and a direct payment of more than $46.5 million to the Commonwealth that will be used to assist homeowners.  The agreement settles allegations of widespread use of fraudulent documents by Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase, Citi, and GMAC.

Massachusetts’ estimated total share of the settlement is $317,915,272:

  • Massachusetts borrowers will receive an estimated $224,000,819 in benefits from loan term modifications and other direct relief.
  • Massachusetts borrowers who lost their homes to foreclosure from January 1, 2008 through December 31, 2011 and suffered servicing abuse would qualify for $14,625,790 in cash payments to borrowers.
  • The value of refinanced loans to Massachusetts underwater borrowers would be an estimated $32,729,601.
  • The state will receive a direct payment of $46,559,061 that will be used to assist homeowners.

Under the national agreement, the five servicers have agreed to a $25 billion joint state-national settlement with these components: 

  • Servicers commit a minimum of $17 billion directly to borrowers through a series of national homeowner relief effort options, including principal reduction.  Given how the settlement is structured, servicers will actually provide up to an estimated $32 billion in direct homeowner relief.
  • Servicers commit $3 billion to a mortgage refinancing program for borrowers who are current, but owe more than their home is currently worth.
  • Servicers pay $5 billion to the states and federal government ($4.25 billion to the states and $750 million to the federal government).  The state payments include funding for payments to borrowers for mortgage servicing abuse.
  • Homeowners receive comprehensive new protections from new mortgage loan servicing and foreclosure standards.
  • An independent monitor will ensure mortgage servicer compliance.
  • Government can pursue civil claims outside of the agreement, and any criminal case; borrowers and investors can pursue individual, institutional or class action cases regardless of agreement.

The state-federal settlement resulted from a civil investigation and initiative that began in October 2010.  This investigation included state attorneys general and state banking regulators across the country, and nearly a dozen federal agencies.  The settlement holds banks accountable for past mortgage servicing and foreclosure fraud and abuses and provides relief to homeowners.  With the backing of a federal court order and the oversight of an independent monitor, the settlement seeks to stop future fraud and abuse.

The settlement does not grant any immunity from criminal offenses and will not affect criminal prosecutions.  A separate agreement reached by Massachusetts allows the Commonwealth to pursue allegations that these five banks initiated foreclosures without holding the actual mortgages (so-called “Ibanez” violations) and allegedly corrupted the land recording system through the use of the Mortgage Electronic Registration System (MERS), stated in AG Coakley’s lawsuit against the five banks filed on December 1, 2011 .  The settlement does not prevent homeowners or investors from pursuing individual, institutional or class action civil cases against the five servicers.  The agreement also enables state attorneys general and federal agencies to continue to investigate and pursue other aspects of the mortgage crisis, including securities cases.

The final agreement, through a consent judgment, will be filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., and will have the authority of a court order.

Because of the complexity of the mortgage market and this agreement, which will span a three year period, in some cases participating mortgage servicers will contact borrowers directly regarding loan modification options.  However, borrowers should contact their mortgage servicer to obtain more information about specific loan modification programs and whether they qualify under terms of this settlement. 

 

AG COAKLEY’S LEADERSHIP TO ADDRESS THE FORECLOSURE CRISIS

AG Coakley’s office has already brought numerous actions against major banks and financial institutions with the goal of keeping people in their homes and avoiding unnecessary foreclosures.  These include actions against Fremont , Option One , Countrywide , Morgan Stanley , Goldman Sachs and Royal Bank of Scotland which all resulted in loan modifications designed to remedy unfair and unsustainable loans in Massachusetts.  AG Coakley’s office has recovered more than $600 million in relief for investors and borrowers, helped keep more than 25,400 people in their homes, and returned nearly $60 million in taxpayer funds back to the Commonwealth.

Attorney General Coakley has also agreed to join the Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities task force.  On January 27, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, along with Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan, announced the formation of the task force.  AG Coakley’s Office will lend Massachusetts expertise regarding its own investigations into the use of mortgage-backed securities which contributed to the financial crisis.  Massachusetts is one of the only states to successfully investigate and settle these types of claims against lenders, returning more than $200 million for borrowers.

The federal-state settlement announced today primarily affects mortgages that are owned and held by the nation’s largest bank servicers.  Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, however, control a majority of the nation’s mortgage loans.  Leaders of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have expressed an unwillingness to participate in federal loan modification programs, including principal forgiveness. In a letter pdf format of    Letter to Edward DeMarco re: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac   to the acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) sent last Thursday, AG Coakley insisted that the FHFA should allow for principal forgiveness, guided by a net present-value analysis, which would increase loan modifications and help stabilize the housing market.

AG Coakley has also filed legislation in Massachusetts as part of this effort to tackle the ongoing foreclosure crisis. The legislation, An Act to Prevent Unnecessary and Unreasonable Foreclosures, filed with State Senator Karen Spilka and State Representative Steven M. Walsh, would set standards for determining when a loan modification, instead of foreclosure, is appropriate and would require creditors to modify loans when an analysis shows that it’s more profitable to modify the loan than to foreclose. The legislation applies to loans that have been identified as having certain risky features, typically associated with subprime loans, and in which the banks knew or should have known were destined to fail.  The legislation would also codify two recent Supreme Judicial Court Decisions, Ibanez and <em>Bevilacqua</em>, by requiring a creditor commencing foreclosure to show it is the current legal holder of the mortgage. With today’s settlement, the provisions included in the loan modification legislation would become a key piece to ensuring the implementation of the settlement and protecting homeowners now and in the future.

More information about AG Coakley’s work during the lending crisis can be on her website .

Borrowers should contact their mortgage servicer to obtain more information about specific loan modification programs and whether they qualify under terms of the state-federal settlement: 

Bank of America: 1-877-488-7814

Citi: 1-866-272-4749

Chase: 1-866-372-6901

GMAC: 1-800-766-4622

Wells Fargo: 1-800-288-3212

More information can be found on the state-federal settlement at the websites below:

www.mass.gov/ago/

www.NationalMortgageSettlement.com

www.HUD.gov

www.DOJ.gov

Consumers who may have additional questions about the settlement or other concerns can submit a complaint online or call the Attorney General’s dedicated mortgage settlement phone line at (617) 963-2170. Consumers may also contact the Attorney General’s office at the following email address agocs@state.ma.us.

This matter is being handled by Attorney General Martha Coakley’s Consumer Protection Division, including Assistant Attorneys General Amber Villa, John Stephan, Sara Cable, and Justin Lowe; Acting Division Chief David Monahan; Investigator Monique Cascarano of the Investigation Division, Stephanie Kahn, Deputy Chief of the Public Protection & Advocacy Bureau, and Deputy Attorney General Chris Barry-Smith.

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A.G. SCHNEIDERMAN SECURES $136 MILLION FOR STRUGGLING NEW YORK HOMEOWNERS IN MORTGAGE SERVICING SETTLEMENT

A.G. SCHNEIDERMAN SECURES $136 MILLION FOR STRUGGLING NEW YORK HOMEOWNERS IN MORTGAGE SERVICING SETTLEMENT

After Schneiderman’s Persistence, Narrow Settlement Preserves Sweeping Legal Claims For Housing Crisis Misconduct That Has Not Yet Been Investigated

New York To Receive More Per Underwater Borrower Than Any Other State, Plus Loan Modifications, Principal Reductions

Schneiderman: Civil & Criminal Investigations Will Continue As We Seek Accountability For Those Responsible For Crisis And Leverage Greater Relief For Homeowners

NEW YORK – Winning his long, persistent demand that a wide array of sweeping civil and criminal claims not be released without investigation, Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced today a $136 million settlement for New York with the nation’s five largest mortgage servicers over foreclosure abuses, the most per “underwater” borrower of any state in the nation, and the fourth highest dollar amount nationwide as part of the federal-state settlement. In addition to penalties for past abuses, the settlement includes direct relief to victims of wrongful foreclosure conduct, loan modifications including principal reductions for struggling homeowners, and funds that can be used to support foreclosure legal assistance and housing counseling programs. Today’s settlement, which also imposes strong national standards for mortgage servicing, fulfills Attorney General Schneiderman’s demand that he retain the right to bring legal action over misconduct that has not yet been investigated, a right that was absent from earlier settlement proposals.

“Thanks to the advocacy and support of Americans across the country, we have preserved the right to continue investigating the misconduct that led to the bubble and crash of the housing market. For a year, the proposed settlement was simply inadequate, and I applaud all those who fought with us to hold banks accountable for their role in the foreclosure crisis, provide meaningful relief to New York’s struggling homeowners, and allow a full airing of the facts to ensure that abuses of this scale never happen again,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “On multiple fronts, we will continue to investigate the mortgage crisis that has impacted communities in every corner of this state, and ensure that justice and accountability prevail.” 

Over the past year, Attorney General Schneiderman fought for a fair national settlement, on behalf of New York’s homeowners, for mortgage servicing abuses, making it clear that he would not sign an agreement that would give financial institutions broad legal immunity for conduct that had not been investigated. Until recently, the language in settlement proposals had been too broad to justify reaching an agreement. Today’s settlement is a vast improvement, and it will allow the Office of the Attorney General and other agencies to investigate and bring appropriate civil and criminal actions.

New York’s estimated share of the guaranteed cash payments in the settlement is $136 million, the fourth highest in the nation. New York will be able to distribute these funds to legal aid, homeowner assistance and advocacy organizations to help distressed individuals facing foreclosure or servicer abuse.
Among the critical legal claims Attorney General Schneiderman fought for, and successfully preserved in today’s settlement are:

  • All criminal claims.
  • All claims based on mortgage securitization misconduct, under securities fraud statutes, including New York’s Martin Act, and other sources of law. This includes securitization claims based on servicing, foreclosure or origination-related facts.
  • All claims directly against the private national mortgage electronic registry system known as MERS, as well as claims against financial institutions for the use of MERS in the Attorney General’s recently filed lawsuit over a wide range of deceptive and fraudulent practices in New York.
  • All claims for violations of fair lending lawsthat relate to discriminatory practices in loan origination.
  • All tax claims, including any claim that the failure to transfer mortgage loans to the securitization trusts or other conduct violated tax rules.
  • All claims by counties for lost mortgage recording fees; and
  • All claims and defenses held by private and third parties, including those held by individual mortgage loan borrowers.

Mark Ladov, Counsel for the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program said, “Homeowners in every corner of state have been hit hard by the mortgage crisis. We must do everything we can to prevent this kind of economic catastrophe from happening again, and to assist the families and communities hit hardest. We applaud the leadership of Attorney General Schneiderman in ensuring that today’s settlement provides much-needed funding for foreclosure prevention services, a great deal for the people of this state. This settlement is a landmark, but much work remains to be done. Fortunately, Attorney General Schneiderman has preserved our state’s right to investigate the mortgage meltdown, and we will work with him to deliver justice for the people of New York.”

Kirsten E. Keefe, Senior Attorney, Empire Justice Center, said, “We applaud Attorney General Schneiderman’s work towards a meaningful agreement that promises to provide desperately needed relief to New York’s homeowners, as well as hold the industry accountable. We truly appreciate the Attorney General’s recognition of the importance and need for direct services for struggling homeowners, and the critical role legal services and housing counselors play in keeping homeowners in their homes. We look forward to working with Attorney General Schneiderman to ensure that servicers do the right thing and provide meaningful loan modifications to stabilize New York’s housing market and economy.”

Sarah Ludwig, Co-Director of the Neighborhood Economic Development Advocacy Project said, “Thousands of New York families and communities are still suffering from the fallout of the foreclosure crisis, and the settlement charts out critical relief. We thank Attorney General Schneiderman for insisting on transparency and accountability in the process of forging a multi-state settlement. We look forward to working with the Attorney General to make sure that the settlement is effectively implemented and enforced in New York, and to ensuring that individual homeowners’ rights are vigorously protected.”

Christie Peale, Executive Director of the Center for NYC Neighborhoods, said, “New Yorkers have been fortunate to have strong leadership fighting for a fair resolution to the economic crisis. We applaud Attorney General Schneiderman for his continued commitment to justice and accountability. This settlement, along with the state’s ongoing investigation into the mortgage crisis will bring both immediate and long-term relief to homeowners at risk of losing their homes.”

Today’s settlement preserves the legal authority of the Schneiderman-led Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities Working Group announced by President Obama in the State of the Union address. This joint investigation brings together the Department of Justice (DOJ), several state law enforcement officials, and other federal agencies to investigate those responsible for misconduct contributing to the financial crisis through the pooling and sale of residential mortgage-backed securities. It builds upon ongoing state and federal investigations, while also launching new ones.

The new working group includes hundreds of staff, including an initial commitment of 55 Department of Justice attorneys, in addition to analysts, agents and investigators. As it begins its work, 15 federal prosecutors – civil and criminal – and 10 FBI agents and analysts will be initially assigned to the working group. An additional 30 attorneys, investigators and other staff from U.S. Attorneys’ Offices around the country will join the working group’s efforts, in addition to existing state and federal investigations into similar misconduct under those authorities.

Attorney General Schneiderman has made it a top priority of his administration to hold accountable those whose misconduct led to the collapse of the housing market– and to provide significant relief to homeowners. In the State of New York, an average of 1 in 10 mortgages is at risk of foreclosure. The approximate number of individuals living in homes that are either in foreclosure or at risk of foreclosure (based on typical household size for each distressed mortgage) exceeds the populations of Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse combined. 

The below figures for New York homeowners are estimates of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The specific amounts are dependent on eligibility requirements and are not guaranteed.

Payments to victims of wrongful foreclosure:              $13 million estimated
Benefits estimated from refinance program:                $140 million estimated
Homeowners’ benefits from loan modifications:         $495 million estimated

Because of the complexity of the mortgage market and this agreement, which will be performed over a three-year period, borrowers will not immediately know if they are eligible for relief. It will take between 30-60 days to appoint a settlement administrator, and banks will be conducting a vigorous search to identify eligible borrowers and this may take several months.

    • For loan modifications and refinance options, borrowers may be contacted directly by one of the five participating mortgage servicers.
    • For payments to foreclosure victims, a settlement administrator designated by the attorneys general will send claim forms to eligible persons (You may be eligible if you were foreclosed on between January 1, 2008 and Dec. 31, 2012)
    • Even if you are not contacted, if your loan is serviced by one of the five settling banks, you are encouraged to contact your servicer to see if you are eligible—keeping in mind that it will take anywhere from six to nine months to be contacted.
      • Bank of America: 877-488-7814
      • Citi: 866-272-4749
      • Chase: 866-372-6901
      • GMAC: 800-766-4622
      • Wells Fargo: 1-800-288-3212

For more information on today’s agreement, visit:

www.ag.ny.gov
www.NationalMortgageSettlement.com
www.HUD.gov
www.DOJ.gov

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A message to the 99%

A message to the 99%

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LEAKED | Settlement Breakdown by State Plus Other Official Propaganda

LEAKED | Settlement Breakdown by State Plus Other Official Propaganda

PAM BONDI used this connect the dot / cut n’ paste settlement draft as seen on her site.

 

via: NakedCapitalism

A little birdie sent me some settlement details. You can see how much little your state got, as well as whether your state bothered rewriting the official PR:

Scribd

Please go to Naked Capitalism to see the full scribd links!

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FORECLOSURE SETTLEMENT | OCC Settles Civil Money Penalties Against Large National Bank Mortgage Servicers for $394 Million

FORECLOSURE SETTLEMENT | OCC Settles Civil Money Penalties Against Large National Bank Mortgage Servicers for $394 Million

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 9, 2012

Contact: Bryan Hubbard
(202) 874-5770

OCC Settles Civil Money Penalties Against Large National Bank Mortgage Servicers for $394 Million; Penalty Assessment Coordinated with Servicers’ Actions and Payments Under Federal-State Settlement

WASHINGTON — The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) today announced agreements in principle with four large national bank mortgage servicers to settle civil money penalties in connection with the unsafe and unsound mortgage servicing and foreclosure practices that were the subject of comprehensive cease and desist orders issued by the OCC in April 2011.

Today’s announcement involves Bank of America, Citibank, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo.  The OCC’s actions were announced in coordination with the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the announcement of the federal-state settlement involving the U.S. Department of Justice, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, other federal agencies, and state attorneys general.

In the agreements in principle struck by the OCC with these mortgage servicers, the servicers do not contest the OCC’s ability to impose penalties aggregating $394 million, and the OCC agrees to hold in abeyance imposition of such penalties provided the servicers make payments and take other actions under the federal-state settlement with a value equal to at least the penalty amounts that each servicer acknowledges that the OCC could impose.  The amounts for each servicer are $164 million for Bank of America, $34 million for Citibank, $113 million for JPMorgan Chase, and $83 million for Wells Fargo.  If after three years, a servicer has not paid an amount equal to its respective penalty, the OCC will assess a penalty against the servicer for the difference between the aggregate value of the actions and payments under the agreement and that servicer’s OCC penalty amount.

“The actions announced today mark important progress in addressing the problems associated with foreclosure processing and are a critical step toward restoring a functioning industry that protects the rights of the customers it serves,” said acting Comptroller of the Currency John Walsh.  “The OCC has worked closely with the Department of Justice and other federal agencies throughout the federal-state foreclosure settlement negotiations.  We have worked to coordinate the comprehensive fixes to mortgage servicing and foreclosure practices that we required in our April 2011 cease and desist orders to ensure that work complements actions required by the federal-state settlement.”

These actions follow the issuance of consent orders in April 2011 against Bank of America, Citibank, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo to correct deficient, unsafe and unsound mortgage servicing and foreclosure practices.

Those enforcement actions required extensive fixes to mortgage servicing and foreclosure processes.  Much of that work will continue throughout the balance of 2012.  The orders also required servicers to retain independent consultants to conduct a comprehensive review of foreclosure activity by these servicers in 2009 and 2010.  As part of that effort, an independent foreclosure review process began in November 2011 which gives more than four million people the opportunity to request a review of their case if they believe they suffered injuries as a result of errors, misrepresentations, or other deficiencies in a foreclosure action on their primary residence in 2009 or 2010 by one of these servicers.  More information about that process is available at www.independentforeclosurereview.com.

# # #

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FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AND STATE ATTORNEYS GENERAL REACH $25 BILLION AGREEMENT TO ADDRESS MORTGAGE AND FORECLOSURE ABUSES

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AND STATE ATTORNEYS GENERAL REACH $25 BILLION AGREEMENT TO ADDRESS MORTGAGE AND FORECLOSURE ABUSES

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AG (202) 514-2008
TTY (866) 544-5309
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 2012

WWW.JUSTICE.GOV           


 

 

 

$25 billion agreement provides homeowner relief & new protections, stops abuses

WASHINGTON – U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller and Colorado Attorney General John W. Suthers announced today that the federal government and 49 state attorneys general have reached a landmark $25 billion agreement with the nation’s five largest mortgage servicers to address mortgage loan servicing and foreclosure abuses.  The agreement provides substantial financial relief to homeowners and establishes significant new homeowner protections for the future.

The unprecedented joint agreement is the largest federal-state civil settlement ever obtained and is the result of extensive investigations by federal agencies, including the Department of Justice, HUD and the HUD Office of the Inspector General (HUD-OIG), and state attorneys general and state banking regulators across the country.  The joint federal-state group entered into the agreement with the nation’s five largest mortgage servicers: Bank of America Corporation, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Wells Fargo & Company, Citigroup Inc., and Ally Financial Inc. (formerly GMAC).

“This agreement – the largest joint federal-state settlement ever obtained – is the result of unprecedented coordination among enforcement agencies throughout the government,” said Attorney General Holder.  “It holds mortgage servicers accountable for abusive practices and requires them to commit more than $20 billion towards financial relief for consumers.  As a result, struggling homeowners throughout the country will benefit from reduced principals and refinancing of their loans.  The agreement also requires substantial changes in how servicers do business, which will ensure the abuses of the past are not repeated.”

“This historic settlement will provide immediate relief to homeowners – forcing banks to reduce the principal balance on many loans, refinance loans for underwater borrowers, and pay billions of dollars to states and consumers,” said HUD Secretary Donovan. “Banks must follow the laws.  Any bank that hasn’t done so should be held accountable and should take prompt action to correct its mistakes.  And it will not end with this settlement.  One of the most important ways this settlement helps homeowners is that it forces the banks to clean up their acts and fix the problems uncovered during our investigations.  And it does that by committing them to major reforms in how they service mortgage loans.  These new customer service standards are in keeping with the Homeowners Bill of Rights recently announced by President Obama – a single, straightforward set of commonsense rules that families can count on.”

“This monitored agreement holds the banks accountable, it provides badly needed relief to homeowners, and it transforms the mortgage servicing industry so now homeowners will be protected and treated fairly,” said Iowa Attorney General Miller.

“This settlement has broad bipartisan support from the states because the attorneys general realize that the partnership with the federal agencies made it possible to achieve favorable terms and conditions that would have been difficult for the states or the federal government to achieve on their own,” said Colorado Attorney General Suthers.

The joint federal-state agreement requires servicers to implement comprehensive new mortgage loan servicing standards and to commit $25 billion to resolve violations of state and federal law.  These violations include servicers’ use of “robo-signed” affidavits in foreclosure proceedings; deceptive practices in the offering of loan modifications; failures to offer non-foreclosure alternatives before foreclosing on borrowers with federally insured mortgages; and filing improper documentation in federal bankruptcy court.

Under the terms of the agreement, the servicers are required to collectively dedicate $20 billion toward various forms of financial relief to borrowers.  At least $10 billion will go toward reducing the principal on loans for borrowers who, as of the date of the settlement, are either delinquent or at imminent risk of default and owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth.  At least $3 billion will go toward refinancing loans for borrowers who are current on their mortgages but who owe more on their mortgage than their homes are worth.  Borrowers who meet basic criteria will be eligible for the refinancing, which will reduce interest rates for borrowers who are currently paying much higher rates or whose adjustable rate mortgages are due to soon rise to much higher rates.  Up to $7 billion will go towards other forms of relief, including forbearance of principal for unemployed borrowers, anti-blight programs, short sales and transitional assistance, benefits for service members who are forced to sell their home at a loss as a result of a Permanent Change in Station order, and other programs.  Because servicers will receive only partial credit for every dollar spent on some of the required activities, the settlement will provide direct benefits to borrowers in excess of $20 billion.

Mortgage servicers are required to fulfill these obligations within three years.  To encourage servicers to provide relief quickly, there are incentives for relief provided within the first 12 months.  Servicers must reach 75 percent of their targets within the first two years.  Servicers that miss settlement targets and deadlines will be required to pay substantial additional cash amounts.

In addition to the $20 billion in financial relief for borrowers, the agreement requires the servicers to pay $5 billion in cash to the federal and state governments.  $1.5 billion of this payment will be used to establish a Borrower Payment Fund to provide cash payments to borrowers whose homes were sold or taken in foreclosure between Jan. 1, 2008 and Dec. 31, 2011, and who meet other criteria.  This program is separate from the restitution program currently being administered by federal banking regulators to compensate those who suffered direct financial harm as a result of wrongful servicer conduct.  Borrowers will not release any claims in exchange for a payment.  The remaining $3.5 billion of the $5 billion payment will go to state and federal governments to be used to repay public funds lost as a result of servicer misconduct and to fund housing counselors, legal aid and other similar public programs determined by the state attorneys general.

The $5 billion includes a $1 billion resolution of a separate investigation into fraudulent and wrongful conduct by Bank of America and various Countrywide entities related to the origination and underwriting of Federal Housing Administration (FHA)-insured mortgage loans, and systematic inflation of appraisal values concerning these loans, from Jan. 1, 2003 through April 30, 2009.  Payment of $500 million of this $1 billion will be deferred to partially fund a loan modification program for Countrywide borrowers throughout the nation who are underwater on their mortgages.  This investigation was conducted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, with the Civil Division’s Commercial Litigation Branch of the Department of Justice, HUD and HUD-OIG.  The settlement also resolves an investigation by the Eastern District of New York, the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP) and the Federal Housing Finance Agency-Office of the Inspector General (FHFA-OIG) into allegations that Bank of America defrauded the Home Affordable Modification Program.

The joint federal-state agreement requires the mortgage servicers to implement unprecedented changes in how they service mortgage loans, handle foreclosures, and ensure the accuracy of information provided in federal bankruptcy court.  The agreement requires new servicing standards which will prevent foreclosure abuses of the past, such as robo-signing, improper documentation and lost paperwork, and create dozens of new consumer protections.  The new standards provide for strict oversight of foreclosure processing, including third-party vendors, and new requirements to undertake pre-filing reviews of certain documents filed in bankruptcy court.

The new servicing standards make foreclosure a last resort by requiring servicers to evaluate homeowners for other loss mitigation options first.  In addition, banks will be restricted from foreclosing while the homeowner is being considered for a loan modification.  The new standards also include procedures and timelines for reviewing loan modification applications and give homeowners the right to appeal denials.  Servicers will also be required to create a single point of contact for borrowers seeking information about their loans and maintain adequate staff to handle calls.

The agreement will also provide enhanced protections for service members that go beyond those required by the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA).  In addition, the four servicers that had not previously resolved certain portions of potential SCRA liability have agreed to conduct a full review, overseen by the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, to determine whether any servicemembers were foreclosed on in violation of SCRA since Jan. 1, 2006.  The servicers have also agreed to conduct a thorough review, overseen by the Civil Rights Division, to determine whether any service member, from Jan. 1, 2008, to the present, was charged interest in excess of 6% on their mortgage, after a valid request to lower the interest rate, in violation of the SCRA.  Servicers will be required to make payments to any servicemember who was a victim of a wrongful foreclosure or who was wrongfully charged a higher interest rate.  This compensation for servicemembers is in addition to the $25 billion settlement amount.

The agreement will be filed as a consent judgment in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.  Compliance with the agreement will be overseen by an independent monitor, Joseph A. Smith Jr.  Smith has served as the North Carolina Commissioner of Banks since 2002.  Smith is also the former Chairman of the Conference of State Banks Supervisors (CSBS).  The monitor will oversee implementation of the servicing standards required by the agreement; impose penalties of up to $1 million per violation (or up to $5 million for certain repeat violations); and publish regular public reports that identify any quarter in which a servicer fell short of the standards imposed in the settlement.

 

The agreement resolves certain violations of civil law based on mortgage loan servicing activities.  The agreement does not prevent state and federal authorities from pursuing criminal enforcement actions related to this or other conduct by the servicers.  The agreement does not prevent the government from punishing wrongful securitization conduct that will be the focus of the new Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities Working Group.  The United States also retains its full authority to recover losses and penalties caused to the federal government when a bank failed to satisfy underwriting standards on a government-insured or government-guaranteed loan.  The agreement does not prevent any action by individual borrowers who wish to bring their own lawsuits.  State attorneys general also preserved, among other things, all claims against the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems (MERS), and all claims brought by borrowers.

Investigations were conducted by the U.S. Trustee Program of the Department of Justice, HUD-OIG, HUD’s FHA, state attorneys general offices and state banking regulators from throughout the country, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado, the Justice Department’s Civil Division, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, SIGTARP and FHFA-OIG.  The Department of Treasury, the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Department of Agriculture made critical contributions.

For more information about the mortgage servicing settlement, go to www.NationalMortgageSettlement.com.  To find your state attorney general’s website, go to www.NAAG.org and click on “The Attorneys General.”

The joint federal-state agreement is part of enforcement efforts by President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force.  President Obama established the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes.  The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources.  The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes.  For more information about the task force visit: www.stopfraud.gov.

# # #

 

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The Top Twelve Reasons Why You Should Hate the Mortgage Settlement

The Top Twelve Reasons Why You Should Hate the Mortgage Settlement

NakedCap-

As readers may know by now, 49 of 50 states have agreed to join the so-called mortgage settlement, with Oklahoma the lone refusenik. Although the fine points are still being hammered out, various news outlets (New York Times, Financial Times, Wall Street Journal) have details, with Dave Dayen’s overview at Firedoglake the best thus far.

The Wall Street Journal is also reporting that the SEC is about to launch some securities litigation against major banks. Since the statue of limitations has already run out on securities filings more than five years old, this means they’ll clip the banks for some of the very last (and dreckiest) deals they shoved out the door before the subprime market gave up the ghost.

The various news services are touting this pact at the biggest multi-state settlement since the tobacco deal in 1998. While narrowly accurate, this deal is bush league by comparison even though the underlying abuses in both cases have had devastating consequences.

The tobacco agreement was pegged as being worth nearly $250 billion over the first 25 years. Adjust that for inflation, and the disparity is even bigger. That shows you the difference in outcomes between a case where the prosecutors have solid evidence backing their charges, versus one where everyone know a lot of bad stuff happened, but no one has come close to marshaling the evidence.

The mortgage settlement terms have not been released, but more of the details have been leaked: …

[NAKED CAPITALISM]

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Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Secures $18 Billion California Commitment for Struggling Homeowners

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Secures $18 Billion California Commitment for Struggling Homeowners

LOS ANGELES – Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced an historic commitment to California of up to $18 billion that will benefit hundreds of thousands of homeowners in the state hardest hit by the mortgage crisis.

“California families will finally see substantial relief after experiencing so much pain from the mortgage crisis,” said Attorney General Harris. “Hundreds of thousands of homeowners will directly benefit from this California commitment.”

“This outcome is the result of an insistence that California receive a fair deal commensurate with the harm done here. We insisted on homeowner relief for Californians and demanded enforceability so homeowners actually see a benefit that will allow them to stay in their homes, and preserved our ability to investigate banker crime and predatory lending,” continued Harris.

California secured the $18 billion agreement as part of a national multistate settlement to penalize robo-signing and other bank servicing and foreclosure misconduct. The agreement comes after California departed from the multistate negotiations last September when the estimated relief to California was $4 billion. Attorney General Harris insisted on more relief for the most distressed homeowners, meaningful enforcement, and the ability of California and other states to pursue investigations into misconduct.

California’s participation in the settlement also increased the amount of relief other states will receive by approximately $6 billion.

Attorney General Harris also obtained separate, enforceable guarantees to ensure that banks will be accountable for their commitments to California. As part of the separate California guarantee, banks must enact a minimum of $12 billion in principal reductions for California homeowners. Failure to achieve this minimum level of reductions will result in substantial cash payments of up to $800 million that the banks will have to pay to the state. Unlike the larger multistate agreement, which is enforceable in a federal court in Washington, D.C., this payment provision empowers the Attorney General to summon the banks to California state court.

California’s separate guarantee also creates important incentives to ensure that banks will reduce the principal mortgage balance of underwater homeowners in California’s hardest-hit counties and that the principal reductions in these communities will occur within the first year of the settlement.

To speed investigations and strengthen prosecutions of these mortgage cases, California will expand its Mortgage Fraud Strike Force, adding to the more than 42 members already working on the team. The state will continue its investigative alliance with Nevada, that allows the sharing of resources, information and strategies, and will look to collaborate with additional states focused on a law enforcement response to the wave of mortgage fraud.

The national multistate agreement and California commitment will provide substantial relief for thousands of Californians whose mortgages are owned by the five banks in the settlement, but thousands more will still need help as they struggle to stay in their homes.

“I will continue to fight for principal reductions for the approximately 60 percent of California homeowners whose loans are owned by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac,” Attorney General Harris added.

Attorney General Harris will propose a comprehensive legislative agenda to protect homeowners in the mortgage market. This legislation will build on the three-year reforms agreed to as part of the California commitment, including a single point of contact for mortgage-holders and an end to the unfair and confusing system of dual-track foreclosures.

“This is an historic amount of relief for California homeowners, but it is one piece of a broader focus. We will continue our crackdown on mortgage fraud and quickly move to pass legislation that will simplify, reform and upgrade our broken mortgage system,” Harris added.

The financial benefits of this historic agreement extend to homeowners whose loans are owned or serviced by one of the five largest mortgage lenders. Benefits include:
- More than $12 billion is guaranteed to reduce the principal on loans or offer short sales to approximately 250,000 California homeowners who are underwater on their loans and behind or almost behind in their payments.
- $849 million is estimated to be dedicated to refinancing the loans of 28,000 homeowners who are current on their payments but underwater on their loans.
- $279 million will be dedicated to offering restitution to approximately 140,000 California homeowners who were foreclosed upon between 2008 and December 31, 2011.
- $1.1 billion is estimated to be distributed to homeowners for unemployed payment forbearance and transition assistance as well as to communities to repair the blight and devastation left by waves of foreclosures, targeted at 16,000 recent foreclosures.
- $3.5 billion will be dedicated to relieving 32,000 homeowners of unpaid balances remaining when their homes are foreclosed.
- $430 million in costs, fees and penalty payments.

County-specific payments are based on the number of homeowners and the depth of the foreclosure crisis. It is estimated that homeowners in the following counties will accrue the following level of benefits over the three-year life of the commitment.

- Los Angeles: $3.92 billion
- Riverside: $1.59 billion
- San Bernardino: $1.13 billion
- Sacramento: $820 million
- Stanislaus County: $368 million

Additional details on the settlement, including how homeowners can apply for relief, can be found at www.oag.ca.gov.

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