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ALL IN ONE BASKET: THE BANKRUPTCY RISK OF A NATIONAL AGENT-BASED MORTGAGE RECORDING SYSTEM (MERS)

ALL IN ONE BASKET: THE BANKRUPTCY RISK OF A NATIONAL AGENT-BASED MORTGAGE RECORDING SYSTEM (MERS)


John P. Hunt

University of California – Davis School of Law (King Hall); Berkeley Center for Law, Business and the Economy

Richard Stanton

University of California, Berkeley – Finance Group

Nancy Wallace

University of California, Berkeley – Real Estate Group

February 3, 2012

UC Davis Legal Studies Research Paper No. 269

Abstract:     
Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (“MERS, Inc.”) owns legal title to some 30 million mortgages in the United States. The company, which was a key part of the mortgage securitization apparatus in the late 1990s and 2000s, is now under intense pressure from public and private lawsuits and investigations and faces a very real threat of insolvency. Policymakers are looking ahead to potential replacements for MERS, Inc., as a recent Fed staff proposal for a substitute system indicates. This Article examines what might happen to the mortgages that MERS, Inc. at least nominally owns in the event that the company enters bankruptcy, a question that apparently has never been explored in a publicly available analysis.

Although the legal analysis underlying the design of MERS, Inc. does not appear to be publicly available, a key assumption seems to have been that if the company ever entered bankruptcy, the mortgages in its hands would not enter the company’s bankruptcy estate and would not be available to creditors. This Article challenges that assumption, pointing to the broad authority the Bankruptcy Code confers on the bankruptcy trustee with respect to interests in real property, such as mortgages. Most courts that have considered the issue have found that the bankruptcy trustee can bring into the estate any real property interest that the debtor could have conveyed to a good-faith purchaser. There is a significant risk that MERS, Inc. can convey MERS mortgages to a purchaser acting in good faith.

Although part of that risk arises from the company’s conduct in making and acquiescing in claims in court that the company can sell the mortgages, has constitutionally protected property interests in the mortgages, is a creditor of mortgage borrowers, and owns a beneficial interest in the mortgages, part of the risk is inherent in any mortgage recording system that operates nationally and holds mortgages as an agent. Policymakers should consider that risk as they consider whether MERS should be replaced and what form the replacement should take.

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LETTER TO AZ ATTORNEY GENERAL HORNE RE: VASQUEZ CERTIFIED QUESTION

LETTER TO AZ ATTORNEY GENERAL HORNE RE: VASQUEZ CERTIFIED QUESTION


REQUIRED READING.

 

RE:

Brief of Amicus Curiae State of Arizona, Constituting the Opinion of the Arizona Attorney General, to the Arizona Supreme Court in Vasquez Deutsche Bank National Trust Company, as Trustee for Saxon Asset Securities Trust 2005-3; Saxon Mortgage, Inc. (“DBNTC”), No. CV 11-0091-CQ (Ariz. S. Ct. 2011), Certified Question from Bankruptcy Case, In re Vasquez, 4:08-bk-15510-EWH (Bky. D. Ariz Tucson)

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Draft Report of the PEB on the UCC Rules Applicable to the Assignment of Mortgage Notes and to the Ownership and Enforcement of Those Notes and the Mortgages Securing Them

Draft Report of the PEB on the UCC Rules Applicable to the Assignment of Mortgage Notes and to the Ownership and Enforcement of Those Notes and the Mortgages Securing Them


This Draft was mentioned in the [IN RE VEAL]

On March 29, 2011, the PEB released for public comment its Draft Report on UCC Rules Applicable to the Assignment of Mortgage Notes and to the Ownership and Enforcement of Those Notes and the Mortgages Securing Them. The PEB is now reviewing the comments received by the submission deadline of May 28, 2011.

From: John A. Sebert, Chair, Permanent Editorial Board for the Uniform Commercial Code (PEB)

Summary

The Uniform Commercial Code provides four sets of rules that determine matters that are important in the context of enforcement of mortgage notes and the mortgages that secure them:

  • First, in the case of a mortgage note that is a negotiable instrument, Article 3 of the UCC determines the identity of the person who is entitled to enforce the note and to whom the maker owes its payment obligation; payment to the person entitled to enforce the note discharges the maker’s obligation, but failure to pay that party when the note is due constitutes dishonor.
  • Second, for both negotiable and non-negotiable mortgage notes, Article 9 of the UCC determines whether a transferee of the note from its owner has obtained an attached property right in the note.
  • Third, Article 9 of the UCC provides that a transferee of a mortgage note whose property right in the note has attached also automatically has an attached property right in the mortgage that secures the note.
  • Finally, Article 9 of the UCC provides a mechanism by which the owner of a note and the mortgage securing it may, upon default of the maker of the note, record its interest in the mortgage in the realty records in order to conduct a non-judicial foreclosure.

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Source: The American Law Institue and The National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws

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2010 Amendments to UCC Article 9 Enacted in Seven States

2010 Amendments to UCC Article 9 Enacted in Seven States


Uniform Law Commission
111 N. Wabash Ave., Suite 1010, Chicago, IL  60602
312-450-6600, www.uniformlaws.org

Contact:
Michael Kerr, ULC Legislative Director, michael.kerr@uniformlaws.org
Katie Robinson, ULC Communications Officer, katie.robinson@uniformlaws.org

For Immediate Release:

Seven states have enacted the 2010 Amendments to Article 9 of the UCC

June 15, 2011 – Seven states – Indiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Texas, and Washington – are the first states to adopt important amendments to the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) Article 9.  The 2010 Amendments are designed to go into effect simultaneously on July 1, 2013; many more states are expected to enact the amendments next year.

Continue reading [NCCUSL]

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FALSE STATEMENTS: Veal v. American Home Mortgage Servicing, BAP No. AZ-10-1055-MkKiJu

FALSE STATEMENTS: Veal v. American Home Mortgage Servicing, BAP No. AZ-10-1055-MkKiJu


By Lynn Szymoniak, ESQ.

False Statements

American Home Mortgage Servicing
DocX, LLC
Lender Processing Services
Sand Canyon Corporation
Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.

Action Date: June 12, 2011
Location: Phoenix, AZ

On June 10, 2011, the U.S. Bankruptcy Appellate Panel of the Ninth Circuit issued an important and lengthy analysis of standing and real-party-in-interest issues in a foreclosure case in Veal v. American Home Mortgage Servicing, BAP No. AZ-10-1055-MkKiJu.

GSF Mortgage Corporation was the original lender in this case. Wells Fargo Bank, as Trustee for Option One Mortgage Loan Trust 2006-3, and its servicer, American Home Mortgage Servicing, Inc., sought to set aside the automatic bankruptcy stay in order to foreclose on the Veals. The note was not endorsed to Wells Fargo or to the trust. As part of their efforts to establish standing, and real-party-in-interest status, Wells Fargo and American Home Mortgage Servicing, the servicer for the Trust, filed a mortgage assignment.

The Assignment was prepared by Docx, LLC in Alpharetta, GA, the document mill made famous by Fraud Digest, then by 60 Minutes, Reuters, The Washington Post, the New York Times, Huffington Post, Firedoglake, Naked Capitalism, Foreclosure Hamlet, 4closure Fraud, Stop Foreclosure Fraud, the Wall Street Journal, and many others. While Docx is now closed, its documents live on in courts and recorders offices across the country.

The Veal Assignment was signed by Tywanna Thomas and Cheryl Thomas who claimed to be officers of Sand Canyon Corporation formerly known as Option One Mortgage. From deposition testimony of Cheryl Thomas, it is known that both Cheryl and Tywanna Thomas were actually employees of Lender Processing Services, the company that owned Docx. There are many different versions of the Tywanna Thomas signature because, as we now know, the employees in Alpharetta forged each other’s names on witnessed and notarized documents.

The Assignment was signed (by someone) on November 10, 2009, but a line on the Assignment right underneath the legal description of the property states:
“Assignment Effective Date 10/13/2009.”

The closing date of the trust was October 27, 2006, almost three years prior to the Assignment effective date. Investors were told the trust would obtain actual Assignments to the Trust of the mortgages pooled in that trust by the closing date.

Dale Sugimoto, the president of Sand Canyon, said in a sworn affidavit on March 18, 2009, filed in the Ron Wilson bankruptcy case in the Eastern District of Louisiana, Case No. 10-51328, Document 52-3, that Sand Canyon does not own any residential mortgages and has no servicing rights.

To summarize:

1. Cheryl Thomas and Tywanna Thomas were not officers of Sand Canyon, as represented on the Assignment. Someone other than Tywanna Thomas and Cheryl Thomas often forged their names.

2. The Veal loan was not transferred to the Option One trust effective October 13, 2009, as represented on the Assignment.

3. Sand Canyon did not own the Veal mortgage and, therefore, had no authority to assign the mortgage to the Option One Trust. The Latin phrase – Nemo dat quod non habit – best covers this situation. Translation: one cannot give what one does not have.

Investors in this Option One trust, the Bankruptcy Judge in the Veal case, bankruptcy trustees with similar documents, homeowners and their lawyers, the SEC, and the Justice Department must all demand answers (and reparations) from the Trustee, the document custodian, the servicer and Lender Processing Servicing.


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IN RE VEAL | AZ 9th Circuit BAP “Reverses Stay, Wells Fargo & AHMSI Lack of Standing, PSA Fail, Assignment Fail, UCC Articles 3 & 9 Applied”

IN RE VEAL | AZ 9th Circuit BAP “Reverses Stay, Wells Fargo & AHMSI Lack of Standing, PSA Fail, Assignment Fail, UCC Articles 3 & 9 Applied”


UNITED STATES BANKRUPTCY APPELLATE PANEL
OF THE NINTH CIRCUIT

In re:
HOWARD RICHARD VEAL, JR., and
SHELLI AYESHA VEAL,
Debtors.

HOWARD RICHARD VEAL, JR.;
SHELLI AYESHA VEAL,
Appellants,

v.

AMERICAN HOME MORTGAGE SERVICING,
INC.; WELLS FARGO BANK, N.A., as
Trustee for Option One Mortgage
Loan Trust 2006-3 Asset-Backed
Certificates, Series 2006-3, and
its successor and/or assignees,
Appellees.

Argued and Submitted on June 18, 2010
at Phoenix, Arizona
Filed – June 10, 2011
Appeal From The United States Bankruptcy Court
for the District of Arizona

Honorable Randolph J. Haines, Bankruptcy Judge, Presiding

Before: MARKELL, KIRSCHER and JURY, Bankruptcy Judges.

EXCERPTS:

The Substantive Law Related to Notes Secured by Real Property

Real party in interest analysis requires a determination of the applicable substantive law, since it is that law which defines and specifies the wrong, those aggrieved, and the redress they may receive. 6A Federal Practice and Procedure § 1543, at 480-81 (“In order to apply Rule 17(a)(1) properly, it is necessary to identify the law that created the substantive right being asserted . . . .”). See also id. § 1544.

1. Applicability of UCC Articles 3 and 9
Here, the parties assume that the Uniform Commercial Code (“UCC”) applies to the Note. If correct, then two articles of the UCC potentially apply. If the Note is a negotiable instrument, Article 3 provides rules governing the payment of the obligation represented by and reified in the Note.

[…]

In particular, because it did not show that it or its agent had actual possession of the Note, Wells Fargo could not establish that it was a holder of the Note, or a “person entitled to enforce” the Note. In addition, even if admissible, the final purported assignment of the Mortgage was insufficient under Article 9 to support a conclusion that Wells Fargo holds any interest, ownership or otherwise, in the Note. Put another way, without any evidence tending to show it was a “person entitled to enforce” the Note, or that it has an interest in the Note, Wells Fargo has shown no right to enforce the Mortgage securing the Note. Without these rights, Wells Fargo cannot make the threshold showing of a colorable claim to the Property that would give it prudential standing to seek stay relief or to qualify as a real party in interest.

Accordingly, the bankruptcy court erred when it granted Wells Fargo’s motion for relief from stay, and we must reverse that ruling.

[…]

AHMSI apparently conceded that Wells Fargo held the economic interest in the Note, as it filed the proof of claim asserting that it was Wells Fargo’s authorized agent. Rule 3001(b) permits such assertions, and such assertions often go unchallenged. But here the Veals did not let it pass; they affirmatively questioned AHMSI’s standing. In spite of this challenge, AHMSI presented no evidence showing any agency or other relationship with Wells Fargo and no evidence showing that either AHMSI or Wells Fargo was a “person entitled to enforce” the Note. That failure should have been fatal to its position.

[…]

IV. CONCLUSION

For all of the foregoing reasons, the bankruptcy court’s order granting Wells Fargo’s relief from stay motion is REVERSED, and the order overruling the Veals’ claim objection is VACATED and REMANDED for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

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Putting “trust” back in American housing finance – Christopher Whalen

Putting “trust” back in American housing finance – Christopher Whalen


“If you don’t have the note today, you don’t have no game.”

REUTERS-

News reports suggest that New York prosecutors are preparing fraud charges against a number of large investment banks for defrauding insurance companies with respect to mortgage loans. These allegations and many civil claims with precisely similar predicates illustrate one of the most important aspects of the subprime financial crisis, namely the construction and collapse of the non-bank financial sector.

[…]

But now we know that this was all nonsense. The creation of the ersatz housing title registry, Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems (MERS), by the banking and mortgage servicing industry was effectively an end-run around the clear legal standard set by Brandeis. In litigation and foreclosures, these make-believe standards for securitizing home loans are turning into dust in the hands of the banks and investors. Lenders who relied upon MERS to document their secured interest in a mortgage are increasingly at risk when the title is contested.


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Testimony of Diane E. Thompson Before the Senate Banking, Housing Committee

Testimony of Diane E. Thompson Before the Senate Banking, Housing Committee


I was impressed with Mrs. Thompson and her knowledge. Excellent read with Mr. Levitin’s testimony.

Excerpts:

What robo-signing reveals is the contempt that servicers have long exhibited for rules, whether
the rules of court procedure flouted in the robo-signing scandal or the contract rules breached in
the common misapplication of payments or the rules for HAMP modifications, honored more
often in the breach than in reality. Servicers do not believe that the rules that apply to everyone
else apply to them. This lawless attitude, supported by financial incentives and too-often
tolerated by regulators, is the root cause of the robo-signing scandal, the failure of HAMP, and
the wrongful foreclosure of countless American families.

The falsification of judicial foreclosure documents is closely and directly tied to widespread
errors and maladministration of HAMP and non-HAMP modification programs, and the forcedplaced
insurance and escrow issues. Homeowners for decades have complained about servicer
abuses that pushed them into foreclosure without cause, stripped equity, and resulted, all too
often, in wrongful foreclosure. In recent months, investors have come to realize that servicers’
abuses strip wealth from investors as well.3 Unless and until servicers are held to account for
their behavior, we will continue to see fundamental flaws in mortgage servicing, with cascading
costs throughout our society. The lack of restraint on servicer abuses has created a moral hazard
juggernaut that at best prolongs and deepens the current foreclosure crisis and at worst threatens
our global economic security.

The current robo-signing scandal is a symptom of the flagrant disregard adopted by servicers as
to the basic legal and business conventions that govern most transactions. This flagrant
disregard has been carried through every aspect of servicer’s business model. Servicers rely on
extracting payments from borrowers as quickly and cheaply as possible; this model is at odds
with notions of due process, judicial integrity, or transparent financial accounting. The current
foreclosure crisis has exposed these inherent contradictions, but the failures and abuses are
neither new nor isolated. Solutions must include but go beyond addressing the affidavit and
ownership issues raised most recently. Those issues are merely symptoms of the core problem:
servicers’ failure to service loans, account for payments, limit fees to reasonable and necessary
ones, and provide loan modifications where appropriate and necessary to restore loans to
performing status.

Continue to the testimony below…

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Diane E. Thompson, Of Counsel

Diane E. Thompson has represented low-income homeowners since 1994.  She currently works of counsel for the National Consumer Law Center.  From 1994 to 2007, Ms. Thompson represented individual low-income homeowners in East St. Louis at Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation.  While at Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance, Ms. Thompson served as the Homeownership Specialist, providing assistance to casehandlers representing homeowners in 65 counties in downstate Illinois, and the Supervising Attorney of the Housing and Consumer unit of the East St. Louis office.  She has served on the boards of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition and the Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing Opportunity Council.  She was a member of the Consumer Advisory Council of the Federal Reserve Board from 2003-2005.  Between 1995 and 2001, Ms. Thompson served as corporate counsel to the largest private nonprofit affordable housing provider in the East St. Louis metropolitan area. She received her B.A. from Cornell University and her J.D. from New York University.

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Highlights From The Testimony of Adam J. Levitin Before the Senate Banking, Housing Committee

Highlights From The Testimony of Adam J. Levitin Before the Senate Banking, Housing Committee


Watched the hearing yesterday and Mr. Levitin was extremely impressive!

Please watch the video for explosive info regarding securitization, “Nothing-Backed Securities”…transfers are void!

Sorry for the quality but was the best I could do.

.

———————————————————————–

.

Written Testimony of

Adam J. Levitin

Associate Professor of Law

Georgetown University Law Center
Before the
Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs

“Problems in Mortgage Servicing from Modification to Foreclosure”
November 16, 2010
2:30 pm

Excerpts:

A number of events over the past several months have roiled the mortgage world, raising
questions about:


(1) Whether there is widespread fraud in the foreclosure process;

(2) Securitization chain of title, namely whether the transfer of mortgages in the
securitization process was defective, rendering mortgage-backed securities into non-mortgagebacked
securities
;

(3) Whether the use of the Mortgage Electronic Registration System (MERS) creates
legal defects in either the secured status of a mortgage loan or in mortgage assignments;

(4) Whether mortgage servicers’ have defaulted on their servicing contracts by charging
predatory fees to borrowers that are ultimately paid by investors;

(5) Whether investors will be able to “putback” to banks securitized mortgages on the
basis of breaches of representations and warranties about the quality of the mortgages.
These issues are seemingly disparate and unconnected, other than that they all involve
mortgages. They are, however, connected by two common threads: the necessity of proving
standing in order to maintain a foreclosure action and the severe conflicts of interests between
mortgage servicers and MBS investors.

It is axiomatic that in order to bring a suit, like a foreclosure action, the plaintiff must
have legal standing, meaning it must have a direct interest in the outcome of the legislation. In
the case of a mortgage foreclosure, only the mortgagee has such an interest and thus standing.
Many of the issues relating to foreclosure fraud by mortgage servicers, ranging from more minor
procedural defects up to outright counterfeiting relate to the need to show standing. Thus
problems like false affidavits of indebtedness, false lost note affidavits, and false lost summons
affidavits, as well as backdated mortgage assignments, and wholly counterfeited notes,
mortgages, and assignments all relate to the evidentiary need to show that the entity bringing the
foreclosure action has standing to foreclose.

Concerns about securitization chain of title also go to the standing question; if the
mortgages were not properly transferred in the securitization process (including through the use
of MERS to record the mortgages), then the party bringing the foreclosure does not in fact own
the mortgage and therefore lacks standing to foreclose. If the mortgage was not properly
transferred, there are profound implications too for investors, as the mortgage-backed securities
they believed they had purchased would, in fact be non-mortgage-backed securities, which
would almost assuredly lead investors to demand that their investment contracts be rescinded,
thereby exacerbating the scale of mortgage putback claims.

[…]

Pay Close Attention To What He Says

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