Adam Levitin: Why No Investigation?

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Adam Levitin: Why No Investigation?

Adam Levitin: Why No Investigation?

The robosigning itself and similar lack of internal controls are the small potatoes. There are much more serious things in the SF City Assessor report.


Credit Slips-

Here’s a bombshell: the San Francisco City Assessor commissioned a serious audit of foreclosure documentation filed in the past few years. The audit examined 400 foreclosures.  It found problems with 85% of them, often multiple problems. What’s more, some of the problems are pretty serious as they implicate not only borrowers’ rights, but the integrity of mortgage-backed securities and the property title system.  

The San Francisco City Assessor’s audit also serves as a benchmark for evaluating the Federal-State servicing settlement.  The San Francisco City Assessor managed to accomplish in a few months what the Federal government and state Attorneys General weren’t able to do in nearly a year and a half with far greater resources at their disposal:  perform a credible investigation of foreclosure documentation with serious implications about the securitization process in general.  That’s a lot of egg on the face of Shaun Donovan, Eric Holder, Tom Miller, et al.  The SF City Assessor report shows that it really wasn’t so hard for a motivated party to undertake a serious investigation. And that raises the question of why the largest consumer fraud settlement in history proceeded with virtually no investigation. 

The lack of investigation was the compelling criticism that led the NY and DE AGs to stay out of the settlement for quite a while. I’ve never heard an answer as to why no serious investigation. As the SF City Assessor’s audit shows, the documentation is all a matter of public record.  It’s not that hard to do, especially if you have the resources of the federal government.  So the resources were there. The capability was there. So why no investigation?  The answer has to lie with lack of motivation. Were the Feds and AGs scared of what they would find if they delved too deeply into the issue? 

I hope that members of Congress will question the Attorney General and HUD Secretary the next time they show up to testify on the Hill.  The issue is also worthy of a GAO or IG examination. 

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[CREDIT SLIPS]

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