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GAO REPORT: Improvements Are Needed in Internal Control over Financial Reporting for the Troubled Asset Relief Program

GAO REPORT: Improvements Are Needed in Internal Control over Financial Reporting for the Troubled Asset Relief Program


What GAO Found

During fiscal year 2011, OFS addressed several of the internal control issues related to the significant deficiency we reported for fiscal year 2010 concerning its accounting and financial reporting processes. However, remaining uncorrected control deficiencies along with other control deficiencies that we identified in this area in fiscal year 2011 collectively represented a continuing significant deficiency in OFS’s internal control over its accounting and financial reporting processes. Specifically, while OFS improved its review and approval process for preparing its financial statements, notes, and Management Discussion and Analysis (MD&A) for TARP for fiscal year 2011, we continued to identify incorrect amounts and inconsistent disclosures in OFS’s draft financial statements, notes, and MD&A that were significant, but not material, and that were not detected by OFS. For fiscal year 2011, we also identified deficiencies in other OFS accounting and financial reporting procedures related to: (1) recording of noncash transactions, (2) recording of warrant adjustments, and (3) accounting for Public-Private Investment Fund (PPIF) equity distributions.

OFS had other controls over TARP transactions and activities that reduced the risk of misstatements in its financial statements resulting from these deficiencies. For significant errors and issues that were identified, OFS revised the financial statements, notes, and MD&A, as appropriate.

In addition to the significant deficiency, we identified a less-significant control deficiency relating to key patches8 that were not in place for the server9 supporting OFS’s subsidiary ledger. During fiscal year 2011, OFS addressed the three less-significant control deficiencies that existed as of September 30, 2010, and that we reported in our April 2011 management report.10

We are making three new recommendations related to OFS’s continuing significant deficiency and one related to the less-significant control deficiency. Further, our work showed that OFS had completed corrective action on 10 of the 13 recommendations that remained open at the end of the fiscal year 2010 audit, and corrective actions were in progress on the three remaining recommendations.

Why GAO Did This Study

The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (EESA) requires that we annually audit the financial statements of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), which are prepared by the Department of the Treasury’s (Treasury) Office of Financial Stability (OFS). On November 10, 2011, we issued our audit report including (1) an unqualified opinion on OFS’s financial statements for TARP as of and for the fiscal years ended September 30, 2011 and 2010, and (2) an opinion that OFS maintained effective internal control over financial reporting as of September 30, 2011. We also reported that our tests of OFS’s compliance with selected provisions of laws and regulations for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2011, disclosed no instances of noncompliance.

Our November 2011 audit report concluded that although certain internal controls could be improved, OFS maintained, in all material respects, effective internal control over financial reporting as of September 30, 2011, that provided reasonable assurance that misstatements, losses, or noncompliance material in relation to the financial statements would be prevented or detected and corrected on a timely basis. Our audit report also identified a continuing significant deficiency

in OFS’s internal control over its accounting and financial reporting processes.

This report presents (1) detailed information concerning underlying new control deficiencies that contributed to the continuing significant deficiency identified in our audit report, along with related recommendations for corrective actions; (2) a less-significant control deficiency that we identified during our audit, along with a related recommendation for corrective action; and (3) the status, as of November 4, 2011, of corrective actions taken by OFS to address the 13 recommendations that remained open at the end of the fiscal year 2010 audit and were detailed in our April 2011 management report. While the deficiencies we identified are not considered material weaknesses, they nonetheless warrant management’s attention and action.

What GAO Recommends

The four new recommendations presented in this report are in addition to those we have made as part of the series of reports issued on our ongoing oversight of TARP.

For more information, contact Gary T. Engel at (202) 512-3406 or engelg@gao.gov.

Status Legend:

More Info

  • In Process
  • Open
  • Closed – implemented
  • Closed – not implemented

Recommendations for Executive Action

Recommendation: The Assistant Secretary for Financial Stability should direct the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) to revise OFS’s procedures related to recording and review of noncash transactions, to include requirements for the individual performing the quarterly noncash transactions analysis to provide adequate supporting documentation for the entire analysis and for the reviewer to review this information along with the entire Noncash Transaction Report to ensure that all necessary noncash transactions are identified and properly recorded in the general ledger.

Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury: Office of Financial Stability

Status: Open

Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

Recommendation: The Assistant Secretary for Financial Stability should direct the CFO to establish a mechanism for the effective implementation of the review process for recording warrant adjustments.

Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury: Office of Financial Stability

Status: Open

Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

Recommendation: The Assistant Secretary for Financial Stability should direct the CFO to develop and implement written procedures to provide reasonable assurance that PPIF equity distributions are properly recorded in the general ledger in accordance with OFS’s adopted accounting methodology.

Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury: Office of Financial Stability

Status: Open

Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

Recommendation: The Assistant Secretary for Financial Stability should establish procedures for coordinating with the Treasury Chief Information Officer to ensure the timely installation of patches to the Core Information Transaction Flow (CITF) system.

Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury: Office of Financial Stability

Status: Open

Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

[ipaper docId=81497051 access_key=key-i1b6udglfyzon4ys5h6 height=600 width=600 /]

 

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Barofsky Blasts Treasury, Obama for Housing Mess

Barofsky Blasts Treasury, Obama for Housing Mess


American Banker-

Neil Barofsky, the former special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, hammered the Obama Administration and Treasury Department Tuesday night at a panel discussion on the foreclosure crisis, saying fears of a political backlash led to the administration’s tepid response to the housing crisis and refusal to back principal reductions.

 [AMERICAN BANKER]

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Homeowners, Investors in Mortgage Backed Securities Feel Your Pain. Hear Their Lawyer Talk About Servicer Nightmares.

Homeowners, Investors in Mortgage Backed Securities Feel Your Pain. Hear Their Lawyer Talk About Servicer Nightmares.


Absolutely do not miss this piece from Abigail Field – So head over and please absorb the information.

 

Abigail C. Field-

If you want to cut through some of the nonsense the banks have managed to sell as information about the housing situation, robosigning, mortgage modifications, check out this very accessible interview of attorney Talcott Franklin by Martin Andelman.

Tal represents the majority of investors hosed once by Wall Streeers selling AAA-rated mortgage backed junk, and constantly being hosed again by the big bank servicers of those mortgages. Interestingly, his perspective sounds very much like homeowners’. Yes, a couple of times it gets a little too legalistic, but only for about 5 minutes of the slightly longer than the hour chat—when you hit the overview of the contracts structuring securitization, or any other topic that is more in the weeds than you want to go, take a deep breath and keep going. Most of the interview is in a rhythm and a language that creates clarity I’ve not seen or heard elsewhere.

[REALITY CHECK]

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The World of the Investor with Attorney Talcott Franklin – A Mandelman Matters Podcast

The World of the Investor with Attorney Talcott Franklin – A Mandelman Matters Podcast


Please find some time today or over the weekend to listen to this excellent podcast of Martin Andelman’s interview with Attorney Talcott Franklin, who represents more than half of all the investors in mortgage-backed securities on the planet.  Tal’s the co-author of the “Mortgage and Asset-backed Securities Litigation Handbook,” and he’s a very experienced and highly sophisticated litigator. You will learn a whole lot and many thanks to Martin for this super interview.

Please head over to Mandelman Matters for the full article.

The podcast is available in two versions… MP4 and MP3.  The MP4 version includes a couple of slides that show diagrams of the basic securitization process, but the MP4 format may not play on some computers.  The MP3 version is audio only, and should play on most any computer.  Most listeners will have no trouble following along either way.

So, turn up the volume on your speakers, and click the MP4 or MP3 version.  I loved recoding this podcast.  If you want to know more about the foreclosure crisis, you’re about to learn from an expert on the other side of the foreclosures, the investor side… it doesn’t get any better than this!

CLICK HERE TO PLAY THE ENHANCED MP4 VERSION

… INCLUDES SLIDES ON SECURITIZATION

 OR

CLICK HERE TO PLAY THE MP3 VERSION

Mandelman out.


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Adam Levitin | Make The Banks Pay

Adam Levitin | Make The Banks Pay


Obama and the AGs still balk at the only solution to the housing-driven recession

Salon-

There is $700 billion in negative equity in the U.S. housing market. That means Americans owe $700 billion more than their homes are worth. Any plan for the housing sector or the U.S. economy, that doesn’t take a serious bite out of negative equity isn’t serious.

Yet un-serious is what we continue to get from elected officials. This week the Obama Administration announced a new plan to help underwater homeowners refinance their mortgages to lower rates.  The plan, really an expansion of an existing program, is the latest in a series of programs designed to deal with the moribund housing market. Each has proven a more dismal disappointment than the next.

So too with the latest version of the proposed settlement between the state Attorneys General, led by Iowa’s Tom Miller, and the mortgage servicing industry. Yes, the deal has been sweetened by the addition of some interest rate reductions for underwater homeowners who are current on their payments. But that’s small potatoes.

[SALON]

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Secret Docs Show Foreclosure Watchdog Doesn’t Bark or Bite

Secret Docs Show Foreclosure Watchdog Doesn’t Bark or Bite


by Paul Kiel ProPublica, Oct. 4, 2011, 11:26 a.m.

Why has the administration’s flagship foreclosure prevention program been so ineffective in helping struggling homeowners get loan modifications and stay in their homes? One reason: The government’s supervision of the program has apparently ranged from nonexistent to weak.

Documents obtained by ProPublica – government audit reports of GMAC, the country’s fifth largest mortgage servicer – provide the first detailed look at the program’s oversight. They show that the company operated with almost no oversight for the program’s first eight months. When auditors did finally conduct a major review more than a year into the program, they found that GMAC had seriously mishandled many loan modifications – miscalculating homeowner income in more than 80 percent of audited cases, for example. Yet GMAC suffered no penalty. GMAC itself said it hasn’t reversed a single foreclosure as a result of a government audit.

The documents also reveal that government auditors signed off on GMAC loan-modification denials that appear to violate the program’s own rules, calling into question the rigor and competence of the reviews.

Some of the auditors’ mistakes are “appalling,” said Diane Thompson of the National Consumer Law Center, an advocacy group. “It suggests the government isn’t taking the auditing process seriously.”

In a written response to ProPublica questions [1], a spokeswoman for the Treasury Department, which runs the program, denied there were serious flaws in its oversight system, calling it “effective and unprecedented in many ways.”

The audits of GMAC, though revealing, give only a limited view into the program, because the Treasury has refused to release the documents for other servicers. For more than a year, ProPublica has sought the audits for ten of the largest program participants through a Freedom of Information Act request. The Treasury provided only GMAC’s audits, because the company consented to their release. ProPublica continues to seek all of the reports.

Abuses of the foreclosure process, in which banks and mortgage servicers cut corners or even created false documents [2] to move trouble borrowers out of their homes, have been extensively documented [3], along with failures by government [4] to regulate the industry. But the lapses revealed in the documents obtained by ProPublica stand out because they occurred within the government’s main effort to prevent foreclosures, the Home Affordable Modification Program, or HAMP.

Oversight Shrouded in Secrecy

For HAMP’s first two years, the government offered very little public detail about its oversight efforts. It was virtually impossible for the public – or even Congress – to know how well the banks and mortgage servicers were complying with the government’s effort to prevent struggling homeowners from losing their homes. Those years were crucial, because that’s when the vast majority of homeowners eligible for a modification – about three million – were evaluated by servicers.

The documents obtained by ProPublica show auditors finding serious problems at a major servicer during that time. Instead of publicly revealing the findings, Treasury chose to privately request that GMAC fix the problems.

“For two years, they’ve known how abysmal servicers were performing and decided to do nothing,” said Neil Barofsky, the former special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, better known as TARP or the bank bailout, which provided the money for HAMP.

“It demonstrates that if you have a set of rules for which compliance is completely voluntary and no meaningful consequences for those who violate them, having all the audits and reviews in the world are not going to make a bit of difference,” he continued. “It’s why the program has been a colossal failure.”

Treasury continued to release few details about its audits until this June, when it began publishing quarterly reports based on the audits’ results. The public report showed what Treasury called “substantial” problems at four of the ten largest servicers – Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and Ocwen – and Treasury for the first time [5] withheld taxpayer subsidies from three of them.

Mortgage servicers that signed up for the program agreed to follow strict guidelines on how to evaluate struggling homeowners seeking a reduced mortgage payment. In exchange, they’d receive taxpayer subsidies. But as we’ve reported extensively, the largest servicers haven’t abided by the guidelines [6]. Homeowners have often been foreclosed on in the midst of review for a modification [7] or been denied due to the servicer’s error. For many homeowners, navigating what was supposed to have been a simple, straightforward program has proven a maddening ordeal [6].

Meanwhile, HAMP has fallen dramatically short of the administration’s initial goals to help three to four million homeowners. So far, fewer than 800,000 homeowners have received a loan modification through HAMP, less than one in four of those who applied [8].

Part of the $700 billion TARP, HAMP launched in early 2009 with a $50 billion budget to encourage loan modifications by paying subsidies to servicers, investors, and homeowners. But in another example of how the program has fallen short, only about $1.6 billion has gone out so far [9].

GMAC said it agreed to release its audits under the program because the company “believes in honoring the spirit of the Freedom of Information Act process” and “elected to be transparent on our work with the [modification] program,” spokeswoman Gina Proia said.

GMAC has changed its parent company’s name to Ally Financial, but its mortgage division is still called GMAC. The government owns a majority stake in Ally, because it rescued the company with TARP funds, but both the company and the Treasury said that didn’t factor into the company’s decision to allow the documents to be released.

ProPublica contacted all nine servicers who objected to the reports’ release. All either declined to comment on why they wanted the audits kept secret or defended keeping them out of the public domain by saying the reports contained confidential information. Collectively, these companies have so far been paid more than $471 million in cash – dubbed “servicer incentive payments” – through the program. They are eligible for hundreds of millions more. The country’s four largest banks – Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and Citigroup – are also the largest servicers of mortgage loans.

In its written response, Treasury’s spokeswoman said it agreed to withhold the records in part because they could undermine “frank communications between mortgage servicers and compliance examiners” and hurt the program’s effectiveness. The department declined to provide either redacted versions or an index of the documents.

Early Reviews “Useless” and Flawed

Since the program’s beginning, homeowner advocates have wondered where HAMP’s watchdog was [10] and why it was having so little effect. That watchdog is Freddie Mac, tapped by Treasury in February 2009 and working under a contract worth $116 million and rising. The Freddie Mac unit, now staffed with 121 employees and employing about 150 more through contractors, is supposed to regularly audit servicers in the program to make sure they are following the rules. Treasury is ultimately responsible for deciding whether to punish a servicer, but it relies on auditors’ findings to make that decision.

It took several months for the unit to even get off the ground. In August of 2009, Treasury rejected Freddie Mac’s first reviews of servicers as inadequate [10], because they were “inconsistent and incomplete” and its staff was “unqualified,” according to a report by the TARP’s special inspector general. Freddie Mac promised to improve. That process took several more months.

As a result, for the program’s crucial first eight months there effectively was no watchdog. Nationwide, servicers filed to pursue foreclosure on about two million loans during that time.

Treasury disputed the idea that there was no watchdog for those months, saying that auditors had performed “readiness reviews” of servicers as early as the May of 2009, one month after the program began. The documents obtained by ProPublica show, however, that Freddie Mac’s auditing unit, called Making Home Affordable – Compliance (MHA-C), didn’t issue its first report for GMAC until early December, 2009 [11].

That audit was a modest effort that involved collecting a sample of 323 loans handled by GMAC and determining whether they’d been properly reviewed for the program. Because of the delays in starting the reviews, the report was based on a sample of loans that was five months old [12]. Such delays continued into 2010. Another Freddie Mac review, completed at the end of March 2010, was based on GMAC loans selected in October of the previous year [13].

The delays make those reviews “largely useless to homeowners,” said Thompson of the National Consumer Law Center. If a homeowner lost the house to foreclosure in July, it wouldn’t help to have an auditor notice that several months later, she explained.

The December 2009 audit notes that GMAC might have already foreclosed on loans auditors had flagged as potentially mishandled, but didn’t order remedial steps. It only requests that GMAC not take “further action.” [14]

GMAC said it had never reversed a foreclosure action as a result of a HAMP audit. ProPublica asked the other nine servicers who objected to the audits’ release the same question. American Home Mortgage Servicing, the only other servicer that answered the question, said it had also never reversed a foreclosure action due to a HAMP audit.

American Home handles about 384,000 loans [15], putting it among the ten largest servicers in the program.

A Treasury spokeswoman said that auditors have reviewed more than 50,000 loan files, but did not directly answer whether a servicer had ever reversed a foreclosure action because of a HAMP audit. Where auditors have found problems, she wrote, the department has “required servicers to take steps to tighten controls” and “re-evaluate any borrowers who may have been potentially impacted.”

In early 2010, around the same time that the auditing unit was issuing its first reports, auditors complained that servicers’ lack of responsiveness to their requests was hampering their efforts. Getting the right documents from servicers was “a cumbersome process,” the head of Freddie Mac’s audit team, Paul Heran, said in February 2010 at a mortgage industry conference. It seemed, he added, that servicers often relegated responding to the auditors to low-level staff who didn’t understand the requests. Another manager in the unit, Vic O’Laughlen, said servicers tended to respond with “at best fifty percent of what we’re expecting to see.”

However uncooperative the banks and mortgage services may have been, Freddie Mac’s auditing reports contain errors that call into question their reliability.

Every few months, the auditors examine a sample of the servicer’s loans that have been denied a HAMP modification to check whether the denials are legitimate. In each GMAC report reviewed by ProPublica, auditors found that the servicer had, with very few exceptions, given the homeowner fair and appropriate consideration. But among the justifications listed in the audits are some that violate the program’s rules or simply don’t make sense.

For instance, the December 2009 review says that 35 of the 247 loans auditors reviewed were denied because the homeowner was “less than 60 days delinquent.” [16] In the report, auditors said that was the right decision in all but one case. But being less than 60 days delinquent is never on its own a legitimate reason for a servicer to deny a modification, according to the program rules. Homeowners are eligible for a modification even if they’re current on their loans, as long as they can show they’re in imminent danger of defaulting.

Another example: Auditors agreed that GMAC had correctly denied a homeowner because of a failure to sign a trial modification offer by Dec. 31, 2012, HAMP’s end date [17]. That makes no sense, because the review took place in 2009. Treasury’s spokeswoman said this was a typo and that the homeowner was denied for a completely different reason.

There are several other examples in later reports of auditors signing off on denial reasons that have no apparent basis in the program’s rules. For instance, auditors cited “grandfathered foreclosure” [18] as a legitimate reason for some denials. The spokeswoman said such loans had been in the foreclosure process before GMAC signed up for the program, but the program rules explicitly stated at the time that such loans were eligible.

When ProPublica asked GMAC if it had denied homeowners loan modifications for these reasons, the company said it couldn’t comment because auditors, not GMAC, had generated those descriptions of why homeowners had been denied. In some cases, Proia said, the descriptions were simply wrong: GMAC had never denied homeowners simply because they weren’t 60 days delinquent.

But Treasury defended the questionable denials, and in so doing raised even more questions. For instance, the spokeswoman said HAMP “does not specifically require servicers to evaluate loans that are less than 60 days delinquent.” But Treasury’s official guidance to servicers said such borrowers “must be screened.”

“It makes you wonder if the Treasury even knows the rules for their own program,” said National Consumer Law Center’s Thompson.

A Congressionally-appointed panel, among others, has pointed to a fundamental flaw in the way the oversight was carried out: Auditors have had no direct contact with homeowners. The program has been dogged by servicers’ inadequate document systems. Borrowers have long reported [6] faxing and mailing the same documents over and over, because servicers kept losing them. Servicers have denied about a quarter of all modification applications due to an alleged lack of documentation [19]. Because HAMP’s auditors do not contact borrowers, there’s no way for them to ascertain if a denial for inadequate documentation was correct.

In response to this criticism from the Congressional Oversight Panel for the TARP last December [20], Treasury said auditors did not contact homeowners to avoid giving them added stress. The panel rejected that reason, saying that contacting borrowers was “critical to assessing the accuracy of a servicer’s determination.”

Instead of talking with borrowers, auditors conduct on-site reviews of mortgage servicing companies, Treasury’s spokeswoman said in her written response to ProPublica. Treasury believes that focusing “on servicer processes and internal controls is the most effective deployment of our compliance efforts,” she wrote.

Detailed Audit Shows Serious Problems

It wasn’t until July 2010, sixteen months after HAMP launched, that the unit performed their first major audit of GMAC. The review included a visit to GMAC’s offices and a detailed review of a sample of loans.

The report enumerated various rule violations, including in how GMAC evaluated homeowners for modifications. GMAC’s practice was to begin the foreclosure process too quickly [21]: The program required the servicer to give the homeowner 30 days to respond to a trial modification offer, but GMAC’s procedure was to wait only 20.

GMAC’s Proia said no homeowners were “negatively impacted by this issue.”

Auditors also found that GMAC was regularly miscalculating the homeowner’s income. In a review of 25 loan files of homeowners who had received a modification, the auditors said 21, or 84 percent, involved a miscalculation of income [22]. Since the borrower’s income is a key factor in whether the homeowner qualifies for a modification, the high error rate raises obvious questions about whether GMAC was accurately evaluating homeowners’ applications.

Asked about this the frequent income miscalculations, GMAC’s Proia said that the “issue was identified in the early stages of the program,” that calculating the borrower’s income is a “complicated process,” and that GMAC has improved since the mid-2010 review – an assertion backed up by recent audit results published by the Treasury.

The July 2010 review also found that GMAC had been aware of certain problems such as “incorrect income and expense calculations,” [23] but had not fixed them. Proia said the company does its best to fix problems when it becomes aware of them.

Penalties: Late and Weak

Typical of the Treasury’s oversight of the program, GMAC was never penalized for any of the rule violations. For the first two years of the program, Treasury officials publicly threatened servicers with the possibility of penalties, but instead followed a cooperative approach [24]. When auditors found problems, servicers were asked to fix them.

The documents illustrate that back and forth. In response to the auditors’ findings, GMAC was required to develop an “action plan.” GMAC refused to provide the action plan to ProPublica and recommended seeking it and other similar documents by filing a Freedom of Information Act request with the Treasury.

Treasury has sent mixed messages about its ability to penalize banks over the course of the program [24], threatening “monetary penalties and sanctions” in late 2009, and then later saying it lacked the power to enforce such penalties. Treasury finally departed from its cooperative approach this June, when it withheld incentive payments [5] from three of the top ten servicers. (GMAC was not among them.) The companies would not receive the public subsidies for completing modifications until they made certain changes. The companies were cited for some of the same problems for which auditors had criticized GMAC, such as regularly miscalculating the borrower’s income. JPMorgan Chase, for instance, had erred in estimating income in about a third of the homeowner loan files reviewed.

The punishment hasn’t had much sting to it. Two of the three companies had their incentive payments restored when Treasury’s most recent report [25] declared they’d improved. Only Chase and Bank of America, the country’s largest servicer, would continue to have their incentives withheld, Treasury said.

But while those incentives have slowed, they have not stopped, according to Treasury’s monthly TARP reports [26]. Since June, when Treasury first announced it would be withholding incentives, Bank of America has received $2.5 million in taxpayer incentives. While that’s a steep reduction from the roughly $7.5 million it had been receiving monthly, the bank is supposed to be receiving nothing. Chase received $404,000 during that same time.

Treasury responded that it has programs to encourage modifications on both first and second mortgages, and that the payments Bank of America and Chase received were related to second mortgages. “Current system limitations” meant the Treasury couldn’t withhold these payments, according to the Treasury spokeswoman. Treasury is working to fix the problem, she said.

 

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BofA, Wells Fargo, Citigroup Left TARP Early To Avoid Restrictions On Executive Pay

BofA, Wells Fargo, Citigroup Left TARP Early To Avoid Restrictions On Executive Pay


Same characters, continuing with rewarded favors.

HuffPo-

In the wake of the financial crisis, a number of the nation’s largest banks were excused from the government’s rescue program before they had returned to a position of complete financial security — in part because they wanted to avoid restrictions on how much their executives would get paid, according to a new report from the program’s government overseer.

Citigroup, Wells Fargo, PNC and Bank of America successfully lobbied to leave the federal bailout program early in 2009, even though the Federal Reserve Board and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation had recommended they take additional steps to shore up their assets, according to a new report from the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Relief Asset Program, a government watchdog office.

[HUFFINGTON POST]

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The Rescue That Missed Main Street – Gretchen Morgenson

The Rescue That Missed Main Street – Gretchen Morgenson


But NOT Wall Street

Fair Game-

FOR the last three years we have been told repeatedly by government officials that funneling hundreds of billions of dollars to large and teetering banks during the credit crisis was necessary to save the financial system, and beneficial to Main Street.

But this has been a hard sell to an increasingly skeptical public. As Henry M. Paulson Jr., the former Treasury secretary, told the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission back in May 2010, “I was never able to explain to the American people in a way in which they understood it why these rescues were for them and for their benefit, not for Wall Street.”

The American people were right to question Mr. Paulson’s pitch, as it turns out. And that became clearer than ever last week when Bloomberg News published fresh and disturbing details about the crisis-era bailouts.

[NEW YORK TIMES]

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Billions Meant for Struggling Homeowners May Pay Down Deficit Instead

Billions Meant for Struggling Homeowners May Pay Down Deficit Instead


The screwing of homeowners just don’t quit!


by Lois Beckett
ProPublica, Aug. 25, 2011, 3:28 p.m.

With housing prices dropping sharply, and foreclosure filings against more than 1 million properties in the first half of this year, the Obama administration is scrambling for ways to help homeowners.

One place they won’t be looking: an estimated $30 billion from the bailout that was slated to help homeowners but is likely to remain unspent.

Instead, Congress has mandated that the leftover money be used to pay down the debt.

[ProPUBLICA]

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Proposed class-action lawsuit alleging breach of contract by Bank of America NA and subsidiary BAC Home Loans Servicing LP

Proposed class-action lawsuit alleging breach of contract by Bank of America NA and subsidiary BAC Home Loans Servicing LP


AP-

LOS ANGELES (AP) —It seemed Maria Campusano’s financial problems were behind her when the mortgage on her Victorian home in a Massachusetts mill town was chopped by hundreds of dollars a month.

She soon learned that her troubles had just begun.

Weeks after making her first payment under the new rate, the school district staffer began receiving past-due notices, documents showing wildly inaccurate loan balances and letters threatening foreclosure. She now fears she’ll lose her home.

“How can they take away what I have worked so hard for?” Campusano said.

Campusano is one of two named plaintiffs in a proposed class-action lawsuit alleging breach of contract by Bank of America NA and subsidiary BAC Home Loans Servicing LP.

Continue reading [THE ASSOCIATED PRESS]

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The Destruction of Economic Facts

The Destruction of Economic Facts


BusinessWeek-

When then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson initiated his Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) in September 2008, I assumed the objective was to restore trust in the market by identifying and weeding out the “troubled assets” held by the world’s financial institutions. Three weeks later, when I asked American friends why Paulson had switched strategies and was injecting hundreds of billions of dollars into struggling financial institutions, I was told that there were so many idiosyncratic types of paper scattered around the world that no one had any clear idea of how many there were, where they were, how to value them, or who was holding the risk. These securities had slipped outside the recorded memory systems and were no longer easy to connect to the assets from which they had originally been derived. Oh, and their notional value was somewhere between $600 trillion and $700 trillion dollars, 10 times the annual production of the entire world.


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HAWAII SB651 Foreclosure, Mediation, Dispute Bill

HAWAII SB651 Foreclosure, Mediation, Dispute Bill


This part shall apply to  nonjudicial foreclosures conducted under part II by power of sale, of residential real property that is occupied by one or more mortgagors as a primary residence; provided that this part shall not apply to actions by an association to foreclose on a lien for amounts owed to the association that arise under a declaration filed pursuant to chapter 514A or 514B, or to a mortgagor who has previously participated in dispute resolution under this part for the same property on the same mortgage loan.

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Hawaii Foreclosure Face Off

Hawaii Foreclosure Face Off


Honolulu Weekly-

A recent 60 Minutes segment investigated Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems (MERS), a private company that acts as an agent for institutions seeking to speed up the processing of their loan modifications. MERS, which claims to handle about 60 million loans (nearly half of all home loan modifications in the country) with fewer than 50 staff. In an April 2010 lawsuit, the founder of MERS admitted that the untrained and non-certified “notaries” were allowed to illegally notarize hundreds of documents daily, as well as “robo-sign” up to 4,000 foreclosure documents daily.

<SNIP>

“There are increasing reports around the country of wrongful foreclosures,” said Recktenwald. “It is especially important to protect our citizens from fraudulent practices.” Recktenwald referred to states that have passed comprehensive legislation and seen dramatic reductions in foreclosures. “I want to express that this is personal for me. Our home is a sacred meeting place for friends, family and community–not a game piece on a Monopoly board. Why I’ve chosen to make Hawaii my home is that I am joined with fellow stewards of the land. Our love of this land is greater than the greed of Wall Street.”


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SHAREHOLDER VERIFIED COMPLAINT | BRAUTIGAM v. RUBIN  ‘Citigroup Board, Robo-Signing, Nationwide Title, Derivatives, Breach, Putback’

SHAREHOLDER VERIFIED COMPLAINT | BRAUTIGAM v. RUBIN ‘Citigroup Board, Robo-Signing, Nationwide Title, Derivatives, Breach, Putback’


MICHAEL G. BRAUTIGAM,

v.

ROBERT E. RUBIN, C. MICHAEL
ARMSTRONG, JOHN M. DEUTCH,
ANNE M. MULCAHY, VIKRAM PANDIT,
ALAIN J.P BELDA, TIMOTHY C. COLLINS,
JERRY A GRUNDHOFR, ROBERT L. JOSS,
ANDREW N. LIVERIS, MICHAEL E. O’NEILL,
RICHARD D. PARSONS, LAWRENCE R.
RICCIARDI, JUDITH RODIN, ROBERT
L. RYAN, ANTHONY M. SANTOMERO,
DIANA L. TAYLOR, WILLIAM S. THOMPSON,
JR., AND ERNESTO ZEDILLO

~
Excerpts:


I. This is a shareholder derivative action brought on behalf and for the benefit of Citigroup against certain of its current and former directors. Citigroup is a global . financial services company, and provides consumers, corporations, governments and institutions with a range of financial products and services. The recipient of some $45 billion of federal government bail-out monies, Citigroup has suffered, and will continue to suffer, serious financial and reputational impacts from the inadequate servicing of its troubled residential mortgage loans.

2. On April 13, 2011, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (“OCC”) publicized findings from its fourth quarter 2010 investigation into Citigroup’s mortgage servicing and foreclosure processing practices. As a result of that investigation, the OCC concluded that Citigroup (through its wholly-owned subsidiary, Citibank, N.A.): engaged in improper servicing and foreclosure practices; lacked sufficient resources to ensure proper administration of its foreclosure processes; lacked adequate oversight, internal controls, policies, and procedures, compliance risk management, internal audit, third party management; failed to supervise outside counsel and other third parties handling foreclosure-related services; and engaged in unsafe or unsound banking practices. The above findings were made public in the OCC’s formal enforcement agreement with Citibank as set forth in the Consent Order captioned In the Matter of Citibank, NA. Las Vegas, Nevada AA -EC-II-I3 (the “Consent Order”).

<SNIP>

13. Apar from a dismal track record in complying with its obligations under TARP and HAMP, Citigroup also suffered from the effects of a lack of adequate controls over its foreclosure processes. By third and fourth quarters of 20 10, reports had surfàced alleging that companies (including Citigroup) servicing $6.4 trillion in American mortgages may have bypassed legally required steps to foreclose on a home. For example, a New Jersey state cour administrative order specifically implicated Citi Residential Lending, Inc. (“Citi Residential,” a business of Citigroup) in the so-called “robosigning” scandal. Robo-signers, as the court put it, “are mortgage lender/servicer employees who sign hundreds-in some cases thousands-of affidavits submitted in support of foreclosure claims without any personal  knowledge of the information contained in the affidavits. ‘Robo-signing’ may also refer to improper notarizing practices or document backdating.” The administrative order cited devastating evidence of the inadequacies of Citigroup’s internal controls over its loan documentation and foreclosure processes:

An individual employed by Nationwide Title Clearing, Inc., with signing authority for Citi Residential Lending, Inc., testified in a deposition that when he signed documents for Citi, he did not review them for substantive correctness. He could not even explain what precisely an assignment of a mortgage accomplishes. He had no prior background in the mortgage industry.

Further, a second person with signing authority for Citi Residential Lending, Inc. testified that she never reviewed any books, records, or documents before signing affidavits and that she instead trusted the company’s internal policies and procedures to ensure the accuracy of the information she signed. She signed several documents each day (in many instances without knowledge of what she was signing) and indicated that they were often notarized outside of her presence.

14. The deficiencies in Citigroup’s controls over its loan documentation and foreclosure processes have led to tens of thousands of adverse outcomes for the Company throughout the United States. On November 23, 20 i 0, a Managing Director of Citi- Mortgage, in a written statement to the House Committee on Financial Services, Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity, admitted that: (a) the Company was reviewing approximately 10,000 affidavits executed in pending foreclosures initiated before February 2010; (b) affidavits executed before fàll 2009 would need to be refilled;
(c) that the Company was reviewing another approximately 4,000 pending foreclosure affidavits that may not have been properly executed; and (d) it was transferring approximately 8,500 foreclosure files from its former Florida law firm that engaged in robo-signing.

Continue below…

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http://www.scribd.com/full/53708513?access_key=key-1pzxbltfa7cdhtky3rr8

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Save The Carrot Dangling of Failed HAMP, We Don’t Want It

Save The Carrot Dangling of Failed HAMP, We Don’t Want It


Don’t even want to waste any thoughts.

From BLOOMBERG

The House of Representatives voted 252-170 on March 29 to eliminate HAMP, which pays banks and mortgage servicers to modify monthly payments for delinquent borrowers. The program is President Barack Obama’s signature effort to aid struggling homeowners.

Last month Representative Patrick McHenry, a North Carolina Republican, called the plan an “epic failure.”

WE AGREE.

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Testimony of Joshua Rosner before the Subcommittee on TARP, Financial Servicer and Bailouts of Public and Private Programs

Testimony of Joshua Rosner before the Subcommittee on TARP, Financial Servicer and Bailouts of Public and Private Programs


Testimony of Joshua Rosner before the Subcommittee on TARP, Financial Servicer
and Bailouts of Public and Private Programs.

“Has Dodd-Frank Ended Too Big to Fail?” –
2154 Rayburn House Office Building

March 30, 2011

Almost three years have passed since the United States financial system shook, began to seize up, and threatened to bring the global economy crashing down. The seismic event followed a long period of neglect in bank supervision led by lobbyist-influenced legislators, “a chicken in every pot” administrations, and neutered bank examiners.

[…]

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[Image: Bloomberg]

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GUEST COMMENT | THE ANSWER IS: There is not enough money in the banking system to fund our nation’s housing stock.

GUEST COMMENT | THE ANSWER IS: There is not enough money in the banking system to fund our nation’s housing stock.


Via: Virginia

This is exactly what I have been saying. If 500,000 mortgages = $80 Billion (source: Taylor Bean complaint)… what do 67 million MERS mortgages equal? Is anybody doing the math in Washington, DC?

http://us1.irabankratings.com/pub/IRAMain.asp

In testimony before the House Financial Services Committee in February 2010, Michael A.J. Farrell, Chairman, CEO, Annaly Capital Management, provided an excellent overview of the current market for RMBS. People involved in the discussions about housing market reform should read Farrell’s testimony carefully. He notes that of $7.5 trillion in RMBS funded by private investors, $5.5 trillion is held by rate sensitive investors in Agency MBS, with about $2 trillion in credit sensitive private label MBS. He also stated that:

“The balance, or about $2.5 trillion, is held in raw loan form, primarily on bank balance sheets. Since our country’s banks have about $12 trillion in total assets, there is not enough money in the banking system to fund our nation’s housing stock, at least not at current levels. It is thus axiomatic that without a healthy securitization market our housing finance system would have to undergo a radical transformation.”

And this is why the states should takeover the loans from 2003-2008. The banks HAVE to foreclose. They cannot hold all the mortgages. They wrote more than they can hold.

By using MERS and other special purpose vehicles to hold mortgages rather than keep them on the banks’ books, the banks lived in a fantasyland. They insured their risk which was a double edge sword; however, they took no responsibility for the volume of loans they wrote.

It’s akin to taking the pill, having numerous partners and thinking you can’t get VD. Only the banks weren’t naive – they were greedy and irresponsible.

It’s only a matter of time before the fact that these banks collected insurance and TARP on these loans and then continued to try and collect from the borrowers starts to come to light – and that would appear to be insurance fraud… probably the main reason for the foreclosures in the first place.

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NJ CLASS ACTION  Silva v. Citimortgage ; Loan Servicer Allegedly Grabbed TARP Cash, Stiffed Loan Mod-Seeking Homeowners Hamp

NJ CLASS ACTION Silva v. Citimortgage ; Loan Servicer Allegedly Grabbed TARP Cash, Stiffed Loan Mod-Seeking Homeowners Hamp


via The Home Equity Theft Reporter a fantastic site!

  • The Complaint alleges that CitiMortgage accepted billions in government bailout money under the Troubled Asset Relief Program (“TARP”) earmarked to help struggling homeowners avoid foreclosure. CitiMortgage, like other TARP-funded financial institutions, is contractually obligated to modify mortgage loans it services for homeowners who qualify under HAMP, a federal program designed to abate the foreclosure crisis by providing mortgage loan modifications to eligible homeowners.
  • According to the lawsuit, CitiMortgage systematically slows or thwarts homeowners’ requests to modify mortgages, depriving borrowers of federal bailout funds that could save them from foreclosure. The bank ends up reaping the financial benefits provided by TARP-funds and also collects higher fees and interest rates associated with stressed home loans.

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OperationLeakS claims he was propositioned by a Treasury official to investigate HAMP violations

OperationLeakS claims he was propositioned by a Treasury official to investigate HAMP violations


A TARP Special Agent sent an email to anonymous hacker OperationLeakS on Tuesday. In this alleged email the unidentified Special Agent appears to request a face to face meeting to possibly discuss HAMP

“I am interested in learning more about the info you possess relative to B of A. Are you in the New York area?.”

I say fat chance that this meeting will ever happen, although I am sure OperationLeakS wouldn’t mind discussing this with Elizabeth Warren.

See email below:

Looks like someone is taking an interest to the leaked Balboa emails.

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BLOOMBERG | U.S. House Panel Votes to Abolish Obama Foreclosure-Prevention Programs

BLOOMBERG | U.S. House Panel Votes to Abolish Obama Foreclosure-Prevention Programs


The House Financial Services Committee voted to abolish President Barack Obama’s signature anti-foreclosure program, saying it failed to deliver the promised help to homeowners.

The panel voted yesterday along party lines, 32-23, to repeal the Home Affordable Modification Program, or HAMP, which pays lenders to rewrite loan terms to lower borrowers’ payments.

Representative Patrick McHenry, a North Carolina Republican, called the plan an “epic failure.”

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Testimony of Simon Johnson, the Congressional Oversight Panel for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP)

Testimony of Simon Johnson, the Congressional Oversight Panel for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP)


Simon Johnson
Ronald A. Kurtz (1954) Professor of Entrepreneurship, MIT Sloan School of Management, and Senior Fellow, Peterson Institute for International Economics

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Congressional Oversight Panel to Hold Final Hearing on the TARP’s Impact on Financial Stability

Congressional Oversight Panel to Hold Final Hearing on the TARP’s Impact on Financial Stability


***UPDATED: ADDS ADDITIONAL WITNESS INFORMATION***

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 2, 2011

Thomas Seay

Thomas_Seay@cop.senate.gov
202-224-9979

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Friday, March 4 at 10:00 a.m., the Congressional Oversight Panel for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) will convene in 538 Dirksen Senate Office Building to hold its final hearing.  The Panel will hear expert testimony from the agencies who helped to coordinate the government’s unprecedented response to the 2008 financial crisis, as well as from several of the nation’s leading economists, who will offer their assessments of the TARP’s impact on financial stability and the U.S. economy.

By statute, the Congressional Oversight Panel will dissolve on April 3, 2011.  The Panel will issue a final report on the TARP in mid-March.

WHO: Members of the TARP Congressional Oversight Panel

Witnesses

Panel One:

Timothy Massad, Acting Assistant Secretary for Office of Financial Stability, U.S. Department of Treasury

Panel Two:

Jason Cave, Deputy Director for Complex Financial Institutions Monitoring, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation

Patrick Lawler, Chief Economist and Head of the Office of Policy Analysis and Research, Federal Housing Finance Agency

William R. Nelson (ADDED), Deputy Director, Division of Monetary Affairs, Federal Reserve System

Panel Three:

Joseph E. Stiglitz, Nobel Laureate and University Professor, Columbia Business School, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (Department of Economics) and the School of International and Public Affairs

Allan H. Meltzer, Allan H. Meltzer University Professor of Political Economy at Carnegie Mellon University

Simon H. Johnson, Ronald A. Kurtz (1954) Professor of Entrepreneurship, MIT Sloan School of Management, and Senior Fellow, Peterson Institute for International Economics

Luigi Zingales, Robert C. McCormack Professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance and the David G. Booth Faculty Fellow, University of Chicago Booth School of Business

WHAT: Final Hearing on the TARP’s Impact on Financial Stability

WHEN: Friday, March 4, 2011; 10:00 a.m.

WHERE: Room 538, Dirksen Senate Office Building

The hearing is open to press and public and will be webcast on the Panel’s website at cop.senate.gov. Individuals with disabilities who require an auxiliary aid or service, including closed captioning service for webcast hearings, should contact the Panel’s staff at 202-224-9925 at least two business days in advance of the hearing date.

The Congressional Oversight Panel was created to oversee the expenditure of the Troubled Asset Relief Program funds authorized by Congress in the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 and to provide recommendations on regulatory reform. The Panel members are former Senator Ted Kaufman; J. Mark McWatters; Richard H. Neiman, Superintendent of Banks for the State of New York; Damon Silvers, Policy Director and Special Counsel for the AFL-CIO; and Kenneth Troske, William B. Sturgill Professor of Economics at the University of Kentucky.

###

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GARY DUBIN LAW OFFICES FORECLOSURE DEFENSE HAWAII and CALIFORNIA
Kenneth Eric Trent, www.ForeclosureDestroyer.com

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