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New Hampshire AG Michael Delaney probing some big banks’ foreclosure practices

New Hampshire AG Michael Delaney probing some big banks’ foreclosure practices


Nashua Telegraph-

Attorney General Michael Delaney confirmed he’s actively investigating the claims of Milford Executive Councilor David Wheeler that major national banks fraudulently moved to foreclose upon several of his constituents.

Wheeler said he’s talked to four homeowners who tried without success to reach “catch-up agreements” with Bank of America and Wells Fargo to get up to date on their home mortgage payments.

“I want the state taking an active role to try and make sure these homeowners in danger of losing all they have, by no fault of their own, are made whole,” Wheeler said in an interview.

[NASHUA TELEGRAPH]

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Deutsche Bank knew mortgage co it bought lied: Justice Dept

Deutsche Bank knew mortgage co it bought lied: Justice Dept


(Reuters) –

Deutsche Bank AG knew in 2006 that a mortgage company it was preparing to buy lied to the U.S. government about its mortgages, yet went ahead with the purchase and should be held financially responsible, the Justice Department said on Monday.

According to the department’s amended $1 billion complaint filed Monday evening with the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, Deutsche Bank was “on notice of and expressly assumed responsibility” for wrongdoing at MortgageIT Inc, which it bought in 2007.

[REUTERS]

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Cantwell Calls on Federal Agencies to Release Records on Banks’ Foreclosure Practices

Cantwell Calls on Federal Agencies to Release Records on Banks’ Foreclosure Practices


With nearly 30,000 Washington state properties in foreclosure, Cantwell calls on federal agencies to improve transparency in effort to root out ‘robo-signing’

Wednesday, July 20,2011

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) joined Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and eight other senators in urging for increased transparency among mortgage servicers’ practices to prevent illegal foreclosures. In a letter sent today to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Federal Reserve, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the senators urged the agencies to release information regarding each mortgage servicer’s performance to the public to prevent illegal foreclosure practices. The letter arrives in the wake of recent reports that illegal foreclosure “robo-signing” by banks is still rampant.

Rooting out illegal foreclosure practices would help ensure that Washington state homeowners are not being unfairly forced to leave their homes. Through the first six months of 2011, Washington state had the 15th highest foreclosure rate in the country. RealtyTrac reports that the state had 4,450 new foreclosure filings in June and that overall, there were 29,398 foreclosure properties.

“We believe it is essential that the items listed above be made available to the general public or the public will lack confidence in both the foreclosure review process and results,” said Cantwell and other Senators in the letter sent today. “This is particularly the case because the foreclosure reviews are being performed by consultants who are chosen by the mortgage servicers themselves, and those consultants often have conflicts of interest in that they are not prohibited from getting future business from those same mortgage servicers.”

Enforcement actions were initiated by federal regulators because of the “robo-signing” scandal from last year that revealed many servicers were wrongfully foreclosing on homeowners and not following existing foreclosure procedures and laws.  Robo-signing is when banks falsely swear that they have reviewed property documents that are necessary to foreclose on a homeowner’s house.  Recently both the Associated Press and Reuters reported that despite regulators’ assurances to the contrary, illegal robo-signing allegedly remains rampant in both foreclosure and non-foreclosure cases.

The request for disclosures is also based upon concern over the fact the consultants performing foreclosure reviews have conflicts of interest since they are chosen by the mortgage servicers they are hired to investigate and have done past or future business with those same mortgage servicers.  The Senators are requesting public release of Engagement Letters, Action Plans, Foreclosure Reviews, and other plans, policies, or processes submitted by mortgage servicers or third-party servicers to ensure that abuses in foreclosure practices are not being ignored by the review process.

The letter sent today was also signed by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Al Franken (D-MN), Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI), Mark Begich (D-AK), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Jon Tester (D-MT), John D.  Rockefeller IV (D-WV), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH). All three regulators to whom the letter is addressed will appear before the Senate Banking Committee for a hearing at 10 a.m. tomorrow on the one-year anniversary of the enactment of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

Mr. John Walsh
Acting Comptroller of the Currency
Office of the Comptroller of the Currency
System Independence Square
250 E Street SW
Washington, DC 20219-0001

The Honorable Ben S. Bernanke
Chairman
Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve
20th Street and Constitution NW
Washington, D.C. 20551

Mr. Martin Gruenberg
Acting Chairman
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
Washington, D.C. 20429

Dear Acting Comptroller Walsh, Chairman Bernanke, and Acting Chairman Gruenberg:

We write today to urge you to make public critical information related to enforcement actions taken against mortgage servicers regarding their improper foreclosure practices.  This is especially important given this week’s allegations that mortgage servicers continue to engage in widespread “robo-signing” despite your assurances that these illegal actions would not continue.  Specifically, we request that you make public the following items related to the April 12, 2011 Consent Orders issued by your offices:

•           All “Engagement Letters” governing the mortgage servicers’ contracts with the consultants hired by the servicer to review that servicer’s foreclosure actions;

•           All “Action Plans” that mortgage servicers and third-party service providers are required to provide to regulators and that will outline the financial resources, organizational changes, measurement systems, governance controls, and timelines that will be adopted to correct improper foreclosure practices;

•           All “Foreclosure Reviews” completed by consultants for each bank, which will outline the results of their investigations into whether ownership of promissory notes or mortgages were properly documented, whether foreclosures were undertaken in accordance with state and federal law, whether calculations under the Home Affordable Modification Program and proprietary loan modification programs were done correctly, whether borrowers were charged excessive or improper fees and penalties related to delinquency, and whether any errors identified caused financial injury to borrowers, among other items;

•           Any other plans, policies, or processes submitted to your offices by mortgage servicers or third-party service providers pursuant to the April 12, 2011 Consent Orders whose disclosure is important to instill public confidence in the process and results of the foreclosure reviews.

We believe it is essential that the items listed above be made available to the general public or the public will lack confidence in both the foreclosure review process and results.  This is particularly the case because the foreclosure reviews are being performed by consultants who are chosen by the mortgage servicers themselves, and those consultants often have conflicts of interest in that they are not prohibited from getting future business from those same mortgage servicers.   The information we are requesting is therefore necessary for the public to determine the independence of the consultants being engaged to perform the foreclosure reviews, the accuracy of the foreclosure reviews, the adequacy of the “Action Plans” in responding to your findings, whether servicer performance meets the goals they have established, and whether those homeowners who experienced harm (such as being improperly foreclosed upon or denied mortgage modifications when they should have been granted under existing criteria) are given appropriate remedies.  Based on a legal analysis by the non-partisan Congressional Research Service, we also believe that it is well within your regulatory discretion under existing laws to disclose this information in the public interest.  This is consistent with your previous determination in April that release of the Interagency Review of Foreclosure Policies and Practices, which was essentially an examination report of foreclosure practices, was also in the public interest.  We understand concerns about not revealing mortgage servicers’ proprietary information, but also believe that some disclosure can be done on a bank by bank basis without compromising proprietary information.

Furthermore, we believe that the full disclosure of these documents to the public is necessary given the recent reports by both the Associated Press and Reuters of the continued widespread practice of “robo-signing” among mortgage servicers.  Both have alleged that servicers continue to file thousands of property documents that appear to be fabricated. Reuters also quoted a top representative from the mortgage servicing industry saying that the Consent Orders have “not put a stop to questionable practices.”  David Stevens, president of the Mortgage Bankers Association, tellingly said that some loan servicers “continue to cut corners” and “the real question is whether the servicer complied with all legal requirements.”

We respectfully request that all documents be made public and sent to Congress within one week of your office receiving them from mortgage servicers or third-party service providers.  If you have any questions about this request, please contact Amanda Fischer at (202) 225-2201 or Michael Passante at (202) 224-4744.  We appreciate your swift attention to this important matter.


###

source: http://cantwell.senate.gov/news/record.cfm?id=333561

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COMPLAINT | U.S. v. DEUTSCHE BANK, MORTGAGEIT for reckless practices

COMPLAINT | U.S. v. DEUTSCHE BANK, MORTGAGEIT for reckless practices


courtesy of DealBook

U.S. v. Deutsche Bank AG et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 11-02976.

[ipaper docId=54521806 access_key=key-nhneasxcfg5b5mmh1qf height=600 width=600 /]

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WSJ | Fannie Report Warned of Foreclosure Problems in 2006

WSJ | Fannie Report Warned of Foreclosure Problems in 2006


Fannie Mae was warned in a 2006 internal report of abuses in the way lenders and their law firms handled foreclosures, long before regulators launched investigations into the mortgage industry’s practices.

The report said foreclosure attorneys in Florida had “routinely made” false statements in court in an effort to more quickly process foreclosures and raised questions about whether some mortgage servicers or another entity had the legal standing to foreclose.

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NYC COMPTROLLER LIU: $432 BILLION PENSION FUND COALITION DEMANDS BANK DIRECTORS IMMEDIATELY EXAMINE FORECLOSURE PRACTICES

NYC COMPTROLLER LIU: $432 BILLION PENSION FUND COALITION DEMANDS BANK DIRECTORS IMMEDIATELY EXAMINE FORECLOSURE PRACTICES


A coalition of seven major public pension systems called on the boards of directors of Bank of America (NYSE: BAC), Citigroup (NYSE: C), JP Morgan Chase (NYSE: JPM), and Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC) to immediately undertake independent examinations of the banks’ mortgage and foreclosure practices.

PR11-01-003
Contact: Sharon Lee / Matthew Sweeney, (212) 669-3747
January 9, 2011

$432 BILLION PENSION FUND COALITION DEMANDS
BANK DIRECTORS IMMEDIATELY EXAMINE
FORECLOSURE PRACTICES

View in pdf
View coalition’s letter to Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo

NEW YORK, NY – A coalition of seven major public pension systems called on the boards of directors of Bank of America (NYSE: BAC), Citigroup (NYSE: C), JP Morgan Chase (NYSE: JPM), and Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC) to immediately undertake independent examinations of the banks’ mortgage and foreclosure practices.

Led by New York City Comptroller John C. Liu on behalf of the five NYC Pension Funds, the coalition also includes the Connecticut Retirement Plans and Trust Funds, the Illinois State Board of Investment, the Illinois State Universities Retirement System, the New York State Common Retirement Fund, the North Carolina Retirement Systems, and the Oregon Public Employees Retirement Fund.

The coalition of pension funds called for the banks’ Audit Committees to launch independent examinations of their loan modification, foreclosure, and securitization policies and procedures.

“This will help to prevent future compliance failures and restore the confidence of shareholders, regulators, legislators and mortgage markets participants,” the coalition advised in its letter.

The coalition members’ insistence on immediate action reflects the urgency of their concerns over mishandled mortgages.  In November, the New York City Pension Funds and Comptroller Liu made a similar request for bank boards to conduct independent policy reviews as part of a shareholder proposal to the banks’ annual meetings in the spring.

“The banks’ boards cannot continue to pretend the foreclosure mess is the result of technical glitches and paperwork errors,” Comptroller Liu said.  “There is a fundamental problem in their procedures that endangers not just homeowners, but shareholders, and local economies.  Given the risks involved, only a swift and unbiased audit can reassure shareholders that the pension funds of 700,000 working and retired New Yorkers are in safe hands.  The boards of directors have no time to waste.”

The coalition represents more than $430 billion in pension fund investments, including $5.7 billion invested in the four banks.

“We don’t know exactly what the banks were doing, and we don’t know if they did it right,” New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli said.  “Millions of families have lost their homes, and the investments of the million members of the Common Retirement System have been put at risk.  As investors, we need to understand what happened.  A full and open examination of the procedures used to foreclose on millions of families is the only way to make sure our investments are protected and no one is ever wrongfully evicted from their home.”

Federal Reserve Governor Daniel K. Tarullo testified to the Senate Banking Committee on December 1 that the Federal Reserve’s preliminary findings on bank foreclosure procedures suggested “significant weaknesses in risk-management, quality control, audit and compliance practices as underlying factors contributing to the problems associated with mortgage servicing and foreclosure documentation.”

The Congressional Oversight Panel has estimated that banks’ potential mortgage liability could total $52 billion, borne largely by the four banks contacted by the pension funds.  The Panel’s November 16 report, “Examining the Consequences of Mortgage Irregularities for Financial Stability and Foreclosure Mitigation,” concluded that banks’ could suffer “disabling damage” if they were found to have misrepresented the quality of loans sold for securitization and forced to reabsorb billions in troubled loans.

“The responsibility for making sure that internal controls and compliance process are in place for mortgage and foreclosure practices rests squarely with these Audit Committees,” said North Carolina State Treasurer Janet Cowell.  “The recent testimonies and studies strongly suggest the need for these Audit Committees to act swiftly and objectively in conducting an independent and comprehensive review of these practices.”

The coalition of pension funds called for the banks to report the findings of their independent examinations in their 2011 proxy statements this spring. As of December 31, 2010, the coalition’s combined holdings in each bank included: 97.1 million Bank of America shares valued at $1.3 billion; 226.6 million Citigroup shares valued at $1.1 billion; 40.7 million JPMorgan Chase shares valued at $1.7 billion; and 50.6 million Wells Fargo shares valued at $1.6 billion.

The New York City Comptroller serves as the investment advisor to, custodian and trustee of the New York City Pension Funds.  The New York City Pension Funds are comprised of the New York City Employees’ Retirement System, Teachers’ Retirement System, New York City Police Pension Fund, New York City Fire Department Pension Fund and the Board of Education Retirement System.  The New York City Pension Funds hold a combined 138,786,887 total shares in Bank of America Corporation (NYSE: BAC), Citigroup Inc. (NYSE: C), JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM), and Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) for a combined asset value of $1,933,160,319 as of 12/31/2010.

The coalition’s letters to each bank are available on Comptroller Liu’s website:
http://comptroller.nyc.gov/press/2011_releases/pr11-01-003.shtm

[ipaper docId=46557840 access_key=key-aaoafphjou467dm8fh0 height=600 width=600 /]

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WALLSTREET, BEWARE “MEGALEAKS” HEADING FOR YOU

WALLSTREET, BEWARE “MEGALEAKS” HEADING FOR YOU


WikiLeaks plans to release a U.S. bank’s documents

Mon Nov 29, 6:52 pm ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The founder of whistle-blower website WikiLeaks plans to release tens of thousands of internal documents from a major U.S. bank early next year, Forbes Magazine reported on Monday.

Julian Assange declined in an interview with Forbes to identify the bank, but he said that he expected that the disclosures, which follow his group’s release of U.S. military and diplomatic documents, would lead to investigations.

“We have one related to a bank coming up, that’s a megaleak. It’s not as big a scale as the Iraq material, but it’s either tens or hundreds of thousands of documents depending on how you define it,” Assange said in the interview posted on the Forbes website.

He declined to identify the bank, describing it only as a major U.S. bank that is still in existence.

Asked what he wanted to be the result of the disclosure, he replied: “I’m not sure. It will give a true and representative insight into how banks behave at the executive level in a way that will stimulate investigations and reforms, I presume.”

He compared this release to emails that were unveiled as a result of the collapse of disgraced energy company Enron Corp.

“This will be like that. Yes, there will be some flagrant violations, unethical practices that will be revealed, but it will also be all the supporting decision-making structures and the internal executive ethos … and that’s tremendously valuable,” Assange said.

“You could call it the ecosystem of corruption. But it’s also all the regular decision making that turns a blind eye to and supports unethical practices: the oversight that’s not done, the priorities of executives, how they think they’re fulfilling their own self-interest,” he said.

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CA CLASS ACTION: FORSTER v. WELLS FARGO, AMERICA’S SERVICING COMPANY “Fraudulent Modification Practices”

CA CLASS ACTION: FORSTER v. WELLS FARGO, AMERICA’S SERVICING COMPANY “Fraudulent Modification Practices”


FIRST CAUSE OF ACTION

(Breach of Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing)

SECOND CAUSE OF ACTION

(Equitable Estoppel)

THIRD CAUSE OF ACTION

(Inducing Breach of Contract)

FOURTH CAUSE OF ACTION

(Unjust Enrichment)

FIFTH CAUSE OF ACTION

(Violation of California Business & Professional Code 17200, et seq., Unlawful, Unfair, or Fraudulent Business Practices)

WELLS FARGO CA

[ipaper docId=44310085 access_key=key-19a2my72oaghv73lscz0 height=600 width=600 /]

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POCKET CHANGE!! BofA’s Countrywide settles with FTC for $108 million

POCKET CHANGE!! BofA’s Countrywide settles with FTC for $108 million


(Reuters) – Bank of America Corp has agreed to pay $108 million to settle government charges that its Countrywide unit, the mortgage lender that became synonymous with risky lending practices, bilked borrowers with misleading and excessive fees.

Housing Market

The Federal Trade Commission said two Countrywide mortgage servicing units deceived cash-strapped homeowners by overcharging them by hundreds or thousands of dollars, sometimes when they were already in bankruptcy.

The alleged activity took place before Bank of America acquired the distressed lender in 2008.

The settlement is a small win for regulators trying to hold to account those who contributed to the deep financial crisis.

The agency called the $108 million settlement one of the largest in an FTC case and the largest in a mortgage servicing case. The FTC has no jurisdiction over banks but does have jurisdiction over deceptive practices by non-bank financial services and products firms.

Countrywide, which was once the nation’s top mortgage lender, “profited from making risky loans to homeowners during the boom years, and then profited again when the loans failed,” said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz, noting that some fees during the foreclosure process were marked up more than 400 percent.

Bank of America said in a statement that it agreed to the settlement to void the expense and distraction of litigating the case. There was no admission of wrongdoing.

The FTC said the $108 million, which represents the amount consumers were overcharged, would be used to repay borrowers but could take months to sort out.

“The record-keeping of Countrywide was abysmal,” said Leibowitz. “Most frat houses have better record-keeping than Countrywide.”

In May, Countrywide agreed to a $624 million settlement of a class action lawsuit accusing it of misleading investors about its lending practices. The case was led by several pension funds, including the New York State Common Retirement Fund, that state’s $129.4 billion public pension fund, and five New York City pension funds.

Once the largest U.S. mortgage lender, Countrywide and its long-time chief executive, Angelo Mozilo, became known for risky lending practices that helped fuel the U.S. housing boom and subsequent bust.

Countrywide nearly collapsed as credit markets tightened, before Bank of America agreed to buy it in January 2008 in a stock deal valued at about $4 billion.

Mozilo and two other former Countrywide executives remain defendants in a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission civil fraud lawsuit.

The SEC alleges that Mozilo hid from investors the deteriorating prospects of Countrywide, and conducted insider trading by entering a systematic stock selling plan in late 2006, knowing that the mortgage lender’s prospects would worsen.

The SEC claimed Mozilo violated insider trading rules in generating a $139 million profit by exercising stock options in 2006 and 2007.

It said the exercises came after he admitted in an email to colleagues that Countrywide was “flying blind” as to the quality of its loans.

Sen. Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat and a member of the panel working out final wording on a comprehensive overhaul of Wall Street, called the FTC settlement “a major breakthrough that closes one of the ugliest chapters of the entire subprime mortgage crisis.”

“Anyone who believes the blame for the housing crisis rests with borrowers should read this settlement and learn just how shameless these lenders were during these years,” Schumer said.

(Additional reporting by Diane Bartz in Washington and by Joe Rauch in Charlotte; editing by John Wallace and Gerald E. McCormick)

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