First Posted: 12-14-10 04:23 PM | Updated: 12-14-10 04:32 PM
The leader of a nationwide investigation of foreclosure fraud told homeowners Tuesday that the probe will have some serious consequences for bankers.
“We will put people in jail,” Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller said, according to homeowner advocates present at the meeting in Des Moines.
Miller said the 50 attorneys general participating in the investigation want criminal prosecutions as part of a big settlement with home-loan providers. The probe launched this fall in the wake of news that the foreclosure processes at many large banks are as bogus as the lending practices that fed the housing bubble in the first place, as banks granted loans indiscriminately to feed derivatives-market speculation and failed to track original mortgage documents after packaging the loans and selling them to investors.
Several banks temporarily halted foreclosures shortly after some of the more egregious practices were revealed, but resumed seizing homes as the scandal fell off the front pages.
Other components of the proposed settlement would require banks to modify home loans and reduce debt burdens for customers whose homes are worth less than their mortgages.
“One of the main tools needs to be principal reductions, just like in the farm crisis in the 1980s,” Miller told the assembled homeowners, adding that he also supported restitution for victims of wrongful foreclosure. “There should be some kind of compensation system for people who have been harmed.”