Tag: Foreclosure Fraud

Federal Reserve Lies About Foreclosures

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

While the attention was on the SCOTUS ruling on the affordable Care Act, this is what was going on under the radar at the Federal Reserve:

Federal Reserve, Regulators Arguing for More, Quicker Foreclosures

by David Dayen

The Federal Reserve has decided to put their thumbs on the scales of justice, explicitly attempting to overturn state-based anti-foreclosure laws on the spurious grounds that they hurt the economy.

This story by Tim Reid in Reuters cites the Fed arguing against the kind of laws in states like Nevada – and soon, California – that have saved hundreds of thousands of homes from foreclosure.

   “State and federal laws enacted to protect homeowners from eviction in the wake of the 2008 housing crash may be extending the slump, according to a growing number of economists and industry experts.

   Foreclosures have all but ground to a halt in Nevada, which passed one of the stiffest borrower-protection laws in the country last year. Yet the housing market is further than ever from recovery, local real estate agents say, with a lack of inventory feeding a “mini-bubble” in prices that few believe is sustainable.

   A recent U.S. Federal Reserve study found that in states requiring a judicial review for foreclosure, delays associated with the process had no measurable long-term benefits and often prolonged the problems with the housing market.”

There’s been a concerted effort to overturn due process in these judicial foreclosure states, on the theory that foreclosures must be quickly flushed through the system so the market can “clear.” Incredibly, house organs like the Fed still express this opinion even after years of documented evidence of illegal foreclosures using false and forged documents in court. The explicit recommendation from the Federal Reserve is to react to systematic foreclosure fraud by closing the courthouse doors to troubled borrowers.

The entire premise that judicial foreclosure states are prolonging the housing slump is completely spurious. Nothing furthers the housing slump more than a spate of foreclosures flooding the market, increasing the supply of distressed homes that sell cheaply and bringing down property values in a particular area. That’s what the Fed is arguing for.

Yes, they’re serious. This is basically siding with the banks, giving fraud as pass and screwing the homeowners and housing market with a flood of foreclosures. And Reuters and other trade publications have decided to publish the propaganda that keeping people in their homes is causing the market to slump and the solution is more foreclosures.

Freelance writer and attorney who helped expose the foreclosure fraud, Abigail Field takes on the Reuters “b.S.” sentence by sentence, shredding the propaganda that the housing crisis was caused by homeowners but by the banks themselves who created the shadow market of foreclosed homes and the underwater crisis. She makes these four points:

  • First, en route to committing mass securities fraud the banks dishonored their contracts and failed to document the mortgage loans as they promised investors they would. As a result, they’ve had to fabricate nonsensical, obviously fraudulent and often sworn statements to try to foreclose. It’s that swamp of fraud that’s causing the delays.
  • Second, banks are manipulating housing market inventory, letting properties they own rot, not listing them for sale, and when auctioning them, sometimes outbidding third parties.
  • Third, bankers’ securities fraud broke the secondary market for non-government backed mortgages. As a result, there’s a lot less capital to lend wannabe homeowners.
  • Fourth, lender-driven appraisal fraud led to such inflated prices that the underwater problem is directly attributable to them.
  • Rather than deal in the reality that our housing crisis is banker driven and dare push the meme that bankers must be held accountable, Reuters is helping bankers (and their government allies) push the idea that if only we made it easy for bankers to use their fraudulent documents, the housing market would heal quickly.

    There’s even more that exposes not just the Federal Reserve’s pass on bank fraud but the how the Obama administration’s so called homeowner bail out is just more hand outs to the banks:

    Sentences ten and eleven:

    “The increasing doubt about the impact of anti-foreclosure laws on the long-term health of the housing market http://maientertainmentlaw.com/?search=generic-20-mg-levitra calls into question a basic principle of the Obama Administration’s approach to the housing crisis.

    Many Democrats, including Obama, say http://cinziamazzamakeup.com/?x=viagra-generico-200-mg-online-prezzo-piu-basso-a-Roma struggling homeowners should get more time to make good on their mortgage arrears, buy viagra lowest price or have the breathing room to go site renegotiate their loans with lenders, especially in the wake of the “ http://maientertainmentlaw.com/?search=long-term-use-side-effects-prednisone robo-signing” scandal in which banks were found to have click falsified foreclosure paperwork.”

    How I wish the Obama Administration’s approach had really been about helping struggling homeowners. Instead it has been mostly theatrics with gifts to the banks thrown in. Most recent example – the latest refinancing program has become a fee/profit center for the big banks. Moreover, if homeowners did “make good”, that would be better for everyone involved, including the broader market, but in the era of maximally predatory servicing, it’s not easy. Ditto with mortgage mods that work – and when they include principal reduction that’s meaningful, they work.

    Hey, look! In sentence 11 we get the first whiff of banker wrongdoing. And wow, he not only uses the misleading “robo-signing“, but he also says “falsified foreclosure paperwork.” Foreclosure “paperwork” doesn’t sound that serious, though, does it? How about “falsified documents affecting property title”? Or, “lied under oath about how much borrowers owed and to whom?”

    And as Yves Smith at naked capitalism notes in her article the lies get repeated ad nauseum:

    The way Big Lies get sold is by dint of relentless repetition. In the wake of the heinous mortgage settlement, foreclosure fatigue has set in. A lot of policy people want to move on because the topic has no upside for them. Nothing got fixed, the negotiation process took a lot of political capital (meaning, as we pointed out, it forestalls any large national initiatives in the near-to-medium term), and Good Dems don’t want to dwell on a crass Obama sellout (not that that should be a surprise by now). But the fact that this issue, which ought to be front burner given its importance both to individuals and the economy, is being relegated to background status creates the perfect setting for hammering away at bank-friendly memes. When people are less engaged, they read stories in a cursory fashion, or just glance at the headline, and don’t bother to think whether the storyline makes sense or the claims are substantiated.

    Just look at the headline: “Evidence suggests anti-foreclosure laws may backfire.” First, it says there are such things as “anti-foreclosure laws.” In fact, the laws under discussion are more accurately called “Foreclose legally, damnit” laws. Servicers and their foreclosure mill arms and legs have so flagrantly violated long-standing real estate laws in how they execute foreclosures that some states have decided to up the ante in terms of penalties to get the miscreants to cut it out. [..]

    And that is perhaps the most remarkable bit, the failure to consider that gutting the protections to the parties to a contract undermines commerce. Borrowers in judicial foreclosure states paid higher interest rates due to the greater difficulty of foreclosure. So now they are to be denied what they paid for because the banks recklessly disregarded the procedures they set up and committed to perform? What kind of incentive system is it when we reward massive institutional failure with a bank-favoring settlement and supportive messaging from central bank economists? As Dayen stated:

       “So when these officials argue against laws like those in Nevada, which merely criminalize a criminal practice, or California, which provides due process for people having their homes taken from them, they’re arguing in favor of what amounts to a dissolution of justice.”

    I don’t think you’ll read anything like this at Reuters. Shameful

    Foreclosure Fraud: More Reasons to Hate It

    Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

    The more the experts and analysts look into the Foreclosure Agreement the more reasons are found to hate it and why, to http://maientertainmentlaw.com/?search=prednisone-non-prescription-to-purchase Yves Smith‘s descriptive word, it “sucks”:

    Not only are the banks getting away with fraud they are still going to be allowed to systemically overcharge homeowners and wrongly take their homes.

    Remember that the Administration also trumpeted that enforcement would be tough, even as Abigail Field has shown that idea to be a joke. For instance, the servicing standards allow for the astonishing concept of an acceptable error rate. Banks aren’t permitted to make errors with your checking account and ding you an accidental $10,000 and get away with it. But with people’s most important asset, their homes, servicers are allowed a certain level of reportable errors, and many of them can be serious as far as borrowers are concerned.[..]

    She also points out that source url wrongful foreclosures at a 1% rate are acceptable. Procedures around real estate are deliberate because any error of this magnitude has devastating consequences. But http://maientertainmentlaw.com/?search=prednisone-5mg this new provision means that 1%, or over 33,000 erroneous foreclosures since 2008 would be perfectly OK as far as the authorities are concerned.

    Field also points out in a separate post that this deal is in no way done. Key points remain to be resolved, in particular, how the Monitor will supervise the pact. That’s a huge item, and leaving it unresolved shifts the power to the banks (if you don’t believe me, I refer you to what is happening to Dodd Frank).

    Field also wonders “how did all our meaningful law enforcers do this deal?:

    I hate the term Too Big To Fail because it’s a loaded premise presented as fact. But looking at the weasel parentheticals, maybe we should start asking if the banks as too big to be competent. I mean, why do the banks need a ‘hey, we tried but didn’t have enough time to stop the sale’ exemption? If the B.O.Bs (bailed out bankers) want their lawyer or trustee to call off a foreclosure sale, all they need is two things: a) to contact their agent and b) have a competent agent.

    What does “took appropriate steps to stop the sale” mean, anyway? Does it mean that someone at the bank left a message or two with foreclosure counsel? If the B.O.B.s made a real effort to stop the sale but their agents did it anyway, why isn’t that the B.O.B’s fault for having incompetent agents? Doesn’t giving the B.O.B. a pass remove any incentive to have competent (and thus more expensive) agents?

    Wrongfully selling someone’s home should be a strict liability issue. S acquistare viagra generico 100 mg consegna rapida a Firenze trict liability is, well, strict: no one cares what you were trying to do, what your intentions were, what you did or didn’t do. Did the harm happen? Then you’re responsible.

    Before you give me any, hey, let’s be reasonable here, a business needs to operate and we’re so big some mistakes will happen, remember what we are talking about: homes; property rights; land records; fundamental fairness. How can the B.O.Bs be held to any standard other than strict liability when it comes to wrongfully selling a home?

    Neil Barofsky, the former Special US Treasury Department Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and Matthew Stoller, a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute give a good overview of why this settlement really “sucks”

    There is no accountability, no punishment for what has to be the largest fraud ever perpetrated in this country.  

    Foreclosure Fraud: More Foreclosures

    Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

    Who could have possibly thought that by giving the banks a pass on foreclosure fraud with the 49 state agreement that there would be an increase in foreclosures? That prediction came from Mark Vitner, an economist with Wells Fargo:

    “The immediate results are not going to be all that pleasant,” said Mark Vitner, an economist with Wells Fargo. His bank is one of the biggest lenders in Florida as well as a participant in the settlement. “The amount of foreclosures will actually increase and there will be some additional downward pressure on home prices.”

    And foreclosures are on the rise in half of the major metro areas:

    February foreclosure activity in the 26 states with a judicial foreclosure process increased 2 percent from January and was up 24 percent from February 2011, while activity in the 24 states with a non-judicial foreclosure process decreased 5 percent from January and was down 23 percent from February 2011.

    Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

    Half of largest metro areas post annual increases in foreclosure activity

    Ten of the nation’s 20 largest metro areas by population documented year-over-year increases in foreclosure activity in February, led by the Florida cities of Tampa (64 percent increase) and Miami (53 percent increase).

    The 10 metro areas with increases were all on the East Coast or in the Midwest, while most of the metro areas with year-over-year decreases in foreclosure activity were in the West, led by Seattle (59 percent decrease) and Phoenix (43 percent decrease).

    The metro areas with the highest foreclosure rates among the 20 largest were Riverside-San Bernardino in California (one in 166 housing units), Atlanta (one in 244), Phoenix (one in 259), Miami (one in 264) and Chicago (one in 302).

    Meanwhile robosigning has still not stopped. Matt Stoller at naked capitalism found according to the HUD Inspector General Report Well Fargo is still using it:

    At the time of our review, affidavits continued to be processed by these same signers, who may not have been qualified, and these signers may not have adequately verified certain figures because they accessed a computer screen of data showing a compilation of figures instead of verifying the data against the information through review of the books and records kept in the regular course of business by the institution.

    Stollers reaction deserves repeating:

    I’m sorry, but WHAT THE $&*@!?!?  I’m so glad Eric Holder has cut a deal with Al Capone while Capone is still on a shooting spree.  And note, this isn’t just robosigning, this is potentially overcharging homeowners with junk fees and just generally not verifying accurate data on who owes what to whom.  There really is no lesson here except “crime pays”.

    And they are still stealing homes.

    Foreclosure Fraud: The Criminals Conducted the Prosecution

    Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

    Along with the Foreclosure Settlement documents it was agreed that the Housing and Urban Development Inspector General report was also released. The New York Times review of the report noted that, contrary to the denial by the banks, top bank managers were responsible for the criminal conduct:

       Managers at major banks ignored widespread errors in the foreclosure process, in some cases instructing employees to adopt make-believe titles and speed documents through the system despite internal objections, according to a wide-ranging review by federal investigators.

       The banks have largely focused the blame for mistakes on low-level employees, attributing many of the problems to the surge in the volume of foreclosures after the housing market collapsed and the economy weakened in 2008.

       But the report concludes that managers were aware of the problems and did nothing to correct them. The shortcuts were directed by managers in some cases, according to the report, which is by the inspector general of the Department of Housing and Urban Development […]

       “I believe the reports we just released will leave the reader asking one question – how could so many people have participated in this misconduct?” David Montoya, the inspector general of the housing department, said in a statement. “The answer – simple greed.”

    Ben Hallman at The Huffington Post observed that the report fell short because of stonewalling by the banks lawyers who blocked interviews with but a handful of employees:

    Though the report describes a pattern of misconduct that appears widespread, it fails to quantify the damage to homeowners or, ultimately, how many home loans were affected. It also clearly reflects the frustration that investigators felt in conducting the review. Even as negotiators for the banks were fighting to win the best possible deal, their lawyers were stonewalling other government investigators trying to ascertain the scope of the “robo-signing” abuses.

    Wells Fargo provided a list of 14 affidavit signers and notaries — but then stalled while the bank’s own attorneys interviewed them first. The bank then tried to restrict access to just five of those employees. The reason? “Wells Fargo told us we could not interview the others because they had reported questionable affidavit signing or notarizing practices when it interviewed them,” the report says. [..]

    Bank of America only permitted its employees to be interviewed after the Department of Justice intervened and compelled the testimony through a civil investigation demand. Even so, the review was hindered, the report says.  [..]

    The investigation into Citigroup’s mortgage division was “significantly hindered” by the bank’s lack of records. Citigroup simply did not have a mechanism for tracking how many foreclosure documents were signed.

    Both JPMorgan Chase and Ally Financial refused to provide access to some employees or documents or otherwise impeded the investigation, according to the report.

    Hallman also noted some of what was uncovered by investigators:

    Wells Fargo employees testified that they signed up to 600 documents a day without attempting to verify whether any of the information was correct. [..] The bank also relied on low-paid, unskilled workers to do the reviews: a former pizza restaurant worker, department store cashier, and a daycare worker, to name a few.

    A vice president at Bank of America testified that she only checked foreclosure documents for formatting and spelling errors. Employees in India supposedly verified judgment figures in foreclosure documents, but none of the U.S. employees interviewed by the inspector general could explain how that process was supposed to work. One former employee described signing 12 to 18 inch stacks of documents without review.

    Employees at Wells Fargo and Bank of America testified that they complained about the pace and lack of care given to reviews, but instead of relief, were told to sign even faster. One Bank of America notary said his target was set at 75 to 80 documents an hour, and he was evaluated on whether he met that target. One notary even notarized her own signature on a few documents.

    Abuses at the other banks — JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Ally Financial — appear just as pervasive. Citi, for example, routinely hired law firms that “robo-signed” documents. An exhibit included with the report shows eight different versions of one attorney’s signature — all apparently signed by different people.

    In signing off on this 49 state agreement the banks did not have to admit to any wrongdoing despite the damning evidence of fraud that was directed by top management. No other sanctions beyond a few billion dollars and certainly no criminal prosecutions. If I were Bernie Madoff, I’d be really pissed.

    Foreclosure Fraud: Finally the Details

    Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

    The Foreclosure Fraud Settlement documents were filed in federal court and released to the public. There is a lot to wade through but the intrepid David Dayen at FDL News Desk breaks them down in a series of four articles that highlight just how easy these banks are getting off and what they are getting away with. Some of it will really make your blood boil:

    Foreclosure Fraud Settlement Docs (I): Ally’s Side Deal

    What accounts for this? Probably this little nugget buried in a Reuters article on the settlement:

      Some banks negotiated separate requirements.

       Ally Financial, for example, negotiated a steep discount on the fine part of its settlement, based on an inability to pay it, according to people familiar with the matter.

       It was expected to pay some $250 million, but the Justice Department cut it to around $110 million, these people said.

       In exchange, it committed to solicit all borrowers in its own loan portfolios and to offer to cut principal for delinquent borrowers down to 105 percent of the home’s value. It also offered to refinance underwater borrowers who are current on their payments.

    Gee, I didn’t know that federal and state civil penalties had a “pay what you can” quality to them. [..]

    About those state funds: there is nothing to stop state AGs from using them in any way they see fit. Note the weasel words in this language (which I’ve bolded):

    Each State Attorney General shall designate the uses of the funds set forth in the attached Exhibit B-1. To the extent practicable, such funds shall be used for purposes intended to avoid preventable foreclosures, to ameliorate the effects of the foreclosure crisis, to enhance law enforcement efforts to prevent and prosecute financial fraud, or unfair or deceptive acts or practices and to compensate the States for costs resulting from the alleged unlawful conduct of the Defendants.

       No more than ten percent of the aggregate amount paid to the State Parties under this paragraph 1(b) may be designated as a civil penalty, fine, or similar payment. The remainder of the payments is intended to remediate the harms to the States and their communities resulting from the alleged unlawful conduct of the Defendant and to facilitate the implementation of the Borrower Payment Fund and consumer relief.

    You have that strong word “shall” competing with “to the extent practicable.” And indeed, several states have already made clear that they will be diverting much of the settlement into their state budgets. More make it clear in the settlement docs, more on that later.

    Foreclosure Fraud Settlement Docs (II): Giving Homes to Charity as a Penalty

    Another part of the document explains that any modification under any government housing program can qualify under the settlement credits:

       Eligible modifications include any modification that is made on or after Servicer’s Start Date, including:

       i. Write-offs made to allow for refinancing under the FHA Short Refinance Program;

       ii. Modifications under the Making Home Affordable Program (including the Home Affordable Modification Program (“HAMP”) Tier 1 or Tier 2) or the Housing Finance Agency Hardest Hit Fund (“HFA Hardest Hit Fund”) (or any other federal program) where principal is forgiven, except to the extent that state or federal funds paid to Servicer in its capacity as an investor are the source of a Servicer’s credit claim.

       iii. Modifications under other proprietary or other government modification programs, provided that such modifications meet the guidelines set forth herein.

    Presumably those programs weren’t all going to shut down. So banks doing what they’ve been doing, meeting the minimum requirements of those other programs, will help them complete the settlement requirements.

    Foreclosure Fraud Settlement Docs (III): “Internal Review Group”

    Page E-3 details the “internal review group”:

       Servicer will designate an internal quality control group that is independent from the line of business whose performance is being measured (the “Internal Review Group”) to perform compliance reviews each calendar quarter (“Quarter”) in accordance with the terms and conditions of the Work Plan (the “Compliance Reviews”) and satisfaction of the Consumer Relief Requirements after the (A) end of each calendar year (and, in the discretion of the Servicer, any Quarter) and (B) earlier of the Servicer assertion that it has satisfied its obligations thereunder and the third anniversary of the Start Date (the “Satisfaction Review”). For the purposes of this provision, a group that is independent from the line of business shall be one that does not perform operational work on mortgage servicing, and ultimately reports to a Chief Risk Officer, Chief Audit Executive, Chief Compliance Officer, or another employee or manager who has no direct operational responsibility for mortgage servicing.

    So the bank can take their own employees out of another part of the bank and have them conduct a quarterly review, which then gets passed to the monitors and becomes the initial basis for enforcement. Even if you believe these will be “independent” internal reviews, we’ve seen with the OCC foreclosure reviews that those independent reviewers paid for and hired by the banks typically write bank-friendly reports. In fact, a later note indicates that “The Internal Review Group may include non-employee consultants or contractors working at Servicer’s direction.”

    Foreclosure Fraud Settlement Docs (IV): Association of Mortgage Investors Planning to Challenge in Court

    At any rate, if there’s one group who does not agree with HUD that investors won’t end up footing the bill for a substantial portion of the settlement, it’s… the Association of Mortgage Investors. The trade group representing investors in mortgage-backed securities fully believes they will be on the hook for losses, and so they will challenge the settlement in federal court.

       As the federal court reviews the final settlement, AMI asks that the following changes be made on behalf of all investors:

       Transparency. The NPV (net present value) model incorporated into the settlement must consider all of a borrower’s debts, be national in scope, transparent, and publicly disclosed; the NPV model must be developed by an independent third-party. An incorrect NPV model likely will lead to further re-defaults and further harm distressed homeowners.

       Monetary Cap to Protect Public Institutions. As intended, the settlement causes financial loss to the abusers (the bank servicers and their affiliates). Unfortunately, the settlement is expected to also draw billions of dollars from those not a party to the settlement, including public institutions, unions, and individual investors. It places first and second lien priority in conflict with its original construct thereby increasing future homeowner mortgage credit costs. It is unfair to settle claims against the robosigners with other people’s funds. While we request that it not be done, at a minimum we request that a meaningful cap be placed on the dollar amount of the settlement satisfied by innocent parties. Again, restitution should come from those who are settling these claims, and

       Public Reporting. We ask that the settlement Administrator be required to make reports public and available on a monthly basis, reporting progress on clearly defined benchmarks and detailing on both a dollar and percentage basis whether the mortgages modified are owned by the mortgage servicers or the general public.

    Over at naked capitalism, Yves Smith points out The Legal Lie at the Heart of the $8.5 Billion Bank of America and Federal/State Mortgage Settlements

    HUD Secretary Donovan, the propagandist in chief for the Federal/state mortgage pact, has claimed he has investor approval to do the mortgage modifications that are a significant portion of the value of the settlement. We’ll eventually see what is actually in the settlement, but the early PR was that “no less than $10 billion” of the $25 billion headline total was to come from principal reductions. Modifications of mortgages not owned by banks, meaning in securitized trusts, are counted only 50% and before Donovan realized he was committing a faux pas, he said he expected 85% of the mods to be from securitizations, so that means $17 billion. [..]

    But what about this investor approval that Donovan says he has? He has told both journalists and mortgage investors directly that the bulk of the mods will come from Countrywide deals and he has consent via the $8.5 billion Bank of America/Bank of New York settlement. Huh? First, it seems more that a bit cheeky to rely on a major piece of a program via a deal that has not yet gone through (the Bank of America settlement was removed to Federal court and has now been sent back to state court, and there will be discovery in the state court process, so approval is not imminent).

    But second and more important, investors approved nothing. Bank of New York is trying to act well outside its authority as trustee for the 530 Countrywide trusts in the settlement. It’s tantamount to having a friend that you gave a medical power of attorney claim that it gave him the authority to sell your car and write checks on your account.

    The terms of Countrywide PSAs vary, but all appear to restrict mods. The prohibitions varied by credit quality of the deal. Alt-A and early vintage (2004 and earlier) deals often barred mods completely; subprime and later vintage deals generally allowed for a higher limit on mods, with 5% the top amount across these deals. The idea was that some mods were expected in the dreckier mortgage pools. Nevertheless, all of them, as well as the few that had no caps, also required Bank of America to buy the modified loans back at par. That is something the battered Charlotte bank would be very keen to avoid doing.

    This comment by Synoia sums it all up pretty nicely:

    The Banks won’t be held accountable

    The Banks won’t fix their past behavior

    The Banks won’t change their behavior

    The Banks won’t stop bribing our politicians

    The Banks won’t stop gouging consumers

    The Banks won’t tell the truth about any facet of their business

    The Banks won’t stop taking enormous risks with other people’s money

    The Banks won’t stop paying their worthless executives too much money

    Need one continue?

    And this settlement won’t change a thing.

    Thank you, President Obama

    Foreclosure Fraud: The New York State Solution

    Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

    In October of 2010, New York State’s Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman became deeply concerned about the big banks lax handling of mortgage documents and several lenders and servicers who had hired staff who did not properly review files or submitted false statements to evict delinquent borrowers. Consequently to curb the illegal practice and preserve the integrity of the court foreclosure laws, Judge Lippman ordered that lawyers handling the foreclosures be held accountable for the paperwork:

    Chief Judge Lippman said, “We cannot allow the courts in New York State to stand by idly and be party to what we now know is a deeply flawed process, especially when that process involves basic human needs – such as a family home – during this period of economic crisis. This new filing requirement will play a vital role in ensuring that the documents judges rely on will be thoroughly examined, accurate, and error-free before any judge is asked to take the drastic step of foreclosure.”

    Under the new requirement, plaintiff’s counsel in foreclosure matters must submit the affirmation at one of several stages. In new cases, the affirmation must accompany the Request for Judicial Intervention. In pending cases, the affirmation must be submitted with either the proposed order of reference or the proposed judgment of foreclosure. In cases where a foreclosure judgment has been entered but the property has not yet been sold at auction, the affirmation must be submitted to the court referee, and a copy filed with the court, five business days before the scheduled auction. Counsel is also obligated to file an amended version of the affidavit if new facts emerge after the initial filing.

    Since the announcement of the Foreclosure Fraud “Settlement”, Judge Lippman has once again ordered a solution that may well reduce the number of fraudulent foreclosures, at least in New York State, by setting up a series special courts to handle the cases:

    The new program is to start in Queens this spring and then expand around the city and to nearby suburbs, court officials said. The officials said that under the program, judges would take over the running of some settlement conferences from court attorneys, who lack the power to impose punishments. State law requires that bank representatives “be fully authorized to dispose of the case,” but enforcement of that requirement has been sporadic.

    The officials said the plan would include court supervision of the collection of required documents to try to avoid delays and would seek to shorten the time some foreclosure cases linger in the courts to several months from up to two years.

    Courts would also work to assure that homeowners who cannot afford lawyers are represented, though some lawyers who handle such cases questioned whether that goal was realistic.

    There are still some hurdles, such as immediate funding for lawyers to represent homeowners until the funds from the settlement are release. A spokesperson for Gov. Andrew Cuomo said “negotiations with the Legislature were likely to find money for the legal agencies in the meantime.”

    It good to see that judiciary is stepping in when prosecutors drop the ball, thanks to commonsense jurist like Jonathan Lippman.

    Is This A Sell Out?

    Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

    I realize that there has been a lot of speculation about what went down in the 24 hrs prior to the SOTU after Miller announced that there was no bank/state settlement deal. There is a lot of speculation about Schneiderman and not without good reason. When I was writing my article for Stars Hollow I was careful not to join in the “sell out” theme that was running hot with some very respected bloggers. I think Obama is desperate. He knows that he is losing the Independents and moderate Republicans and needed to do something fast, especially in the light of the unpopularity of the 50 state agreement and the massive push to stop it. On the other side, and I somewhat agree with RJ Eskow on this, Schneiderman has the upper hand. He is wildly popular and scares the crap out of Cuomo & company. Schneiderman is not dropping the investigation here in NY, he’s expanding it from what I hear.

    That said, I think that if this unit doesn’t move quickly in the evidence they already have, evidence BTW Schneiderman has not had access to, he will drop this like a hot potato and walk. Obama is walking a thin line and realizes that Wall St money alone will not get him reelected. I think Schneiderman is playing on that and hopes to at least hold some of them more responsible and get some better compensation for the homeowners that got screwed along with some regulation of the securitization that caused this all.

    I have my doubts. There are better ways to do this, namely appointing a special prosecutor with a budget, investigators and subpoena power. I’m not willing to throw Schneiderman under the bus just yet.

    I also think Obama wants him to succeed Holder who said he would leave this year even if Obama is reelected. It’s either him or CA’s AG Harris.

    This was a complete surprise, so I’m being very cautious here, knowing what I do about Schneiderman and who is politically afraid of him. Like after Obama was elected, I’m watching and listening very carefully. Hoping that it is not as bad as it looks.

    Eskow’s opinion appeared in Huffington Post and he disclosed that he is a fellow at Campaign for America’s Future, a left wing strategy center. (This site, however, is not affiliated with any outside organization and opinions expressed here are solely are own.) He gives a good analysis of the reasons for the skepticism of David Dayen, Yves Smith and Duncan Black (Atrios) who said, “It’s hard to see the Schneiderman thing as anything but bad news.”

    Eskow dissects the reasons for the skepticism

    The administration’s lack of prosecutions has been inexcusable. His administration has refused to prosecute even the most compelling prima facie cases of and has appointed one revolving-door banker after another to key economic positions. Its financial settlements with Wall Street have been disgraceful. For far too long the president pushed the nonsensical argument that “Wall Street and Main Street rise and fall together.”

    And with an election coming up, bankers can write big checks that most other people can’t.

    He also points out that if the Department of Justice and the SEC had been doing their jobs in the first place neither the Financial Fraud Task Force or this unit would be necessary. It’s hard not to agree with him that committees are “designed for paralysis and gridlock, not efficiency” and that president who promoted “”streamlining government” and “eliminating bureaucracy” would create this committee. Looking back on what happened with health care and financial reform everyone on the left has good cause to be wary of anything that President Obama does at this point and some groups, perhaps shouldn’t have been so effusive in their praise of this deal. Eskow, as do I, thinks that the White House, left scrambling after Iowa AG Tom Miller announced that there was no settlement with the banks and presented with citizen petitions that had hundred of thousands of names, reversed course in desperation. Then with the announcement that Schneiderman would “chair” the committee, there was a rush of exuberant relief that Obama was finally showing some signs of supporting the 99%.

    As to the possibility that Schneiderman “caved”to pressure from the White House, Eskow backs up what I have said, Schneiderman has too much leverage:

    Whatever Eric Schneiderman’s goals are, I doubt they include being stigmatized by progressives as a sell-out. His actions over the last few months have not been those of a guy who rolls over easily. It’s safe to assume that he wants to prosecute bank fraud, and that this appointment will give him access to the resources he’s needed to conduct a thorough investigation. [..]

    Consider this: What would it do to the White House if Schneiderman labeled the entire effort a sham, resigned in protest, and continued his investigations alone? He must know he has leverage now, and presumably will use it if necessary.

    Escow appeared with Cenk Uygur on “The Young Turks” to discuss the unit and Schneiderman with Cenk’s panel:

    I certainly don’t agree with Michael Shure and what basically is “the lesser of two evils” meme. It can be just as bad with Obama. That said, could this turn out as the cynics are predicting? Sure and if it does we here at Stars Hollow, like Eskow, will say so.

    Another good discussion of this new committee was with Delaware AG Beau Biden who appeared with Dylan Ratigan on MSNBC and his other guest real estate analyst, Jack McCabe:

    I’m not ready to throw in the towel nor am I going to get on the cheer-leading band wagon. I will wait to see what transpires and keep my fingers crossed for the best outcome for the most people, the 99%.

    Federal Investigation Mortgage Fraud A Possible Charade

    Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

    While there are there are many reasons to cheer President Obama’s announcement during his State of the Union address that he was forming a special unit within the Financial Fraud Task Force to investigate the fraud and other illegalities that caused the financial crisis and collapse of the housing market, there are plenty of reasons to be very skeptical.

    The unit will be co-chaired by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman who withdrew from the DOJ panel of state attorney generals that was working on a settlement with the big banks over their part in mortgage fraud. That’s about all the good news there is. The other members of the unit are Lanny Breuer, assistant attorney general at the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice, Robert Khuzami, director of enforcement at the SEC; John Walsh, a U.S. attorney in Colorado, and Tony West, assistant attorney general in the Civil Division at DOJ.  Also, the And there in lies the farce of this unit.

    Lanny Breuer, along with Attorney General Eric Holder, was partner in the Washington DC law firm Covington & Burling that represented a number of big banks and MERS which are at the center of alleged foreclosure fraud. He recently appeared on “60 Minutesmaking numerous lame excuses justifying the lack of prosecutions out of the Justice Department. Despite the evidence, including records from federal and state courts and local clerks’ offices around the country, showing widespread forgery, perjury, obstruction of justice, and illegal foreclosures on the homes of thousands of active-duty military personnel, the Holder DOJ has not brought any criminal cases against big banks or other companies involved. There is a clear conflict of interest and possible ethics violations.

    The director of enforcement of the SEC is another embarrassment. Robert Khuzami, a former general counsel at Deutsche Bank, one of the leading trustees in securitization, will no be looking into the instruments of the fraud he helped create. It has been Khuzami’s office that has been giving the banks no-fault settlements which recently were rejected by U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff.

    U.S. Attorney in Colorado, John Walsh, is most notable for justifying the crackdown on medical marijuana dispensaries in that state. He doesn’t appear to have any experience in prosecuting banking fraud.

    The last unit member is Tony West, the brother-in-law of California’s Attorney General, Kamala Harris who like Schneiderman withdrew from the DOJ agreement because it was too little and didn’t hold the banks or companies libel. West, a lawyer with a Oakland, CA law firm and a former US attorney, appears to have little experience with financial fraud.

    Is this really the way to do this? Why not create a Special Prosecutor with the budget and subpoena power rather than a committee within a task force that has done minimal in the last three years to investigate fraud? Both David Dayen at FDL News Desk and Yves Smith at naked capitalism think that Schneiderman is being used for a charade that would eventually let the banks get away with fraud anyway. But is Schneiderman that easily misled or dazzled by Obama’s offer? He certainly didn’t sound like he was going to end his state level investigation in this release from his office:

    I would like to thank President Obama for his leadership in the creation of a coordinated investigation that marshals state and federal resources to bring justice for the victims of the misconduct that caused the mortgage crisis.

    In coordination with our federal partners, our office will continue its steadfast commitment to holding those responsible for the economic crisis accountable, providing meaningful relief for homeowners commensurate with the scale of the misconduct, and getting our economy moving again.

    The American people deserve a robust and comprehensive investigation into the global financial meltdown to ensure nothing like it ever happens again, and today’s announcement is a major step in the right direction.

    (emphasis mine)

    Considering who has run the Treasury, the revolving door of bankers in the Oval Office and Obama’s weak efforts in investigating or prosecuting any person or entity that would ruffle the feathers of his Wall St. contributors over the last three years, there is a whole lot of reason to be doubtful about the president’s sincerity or any future hope of substantial relief for homeowners.

    Foreclosure Fraud: While You Were Sleeping

    Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

    Over the weekend while everyone was distracted by the South Carolina primary circus, the Super Bowl Championship playoffs and the Joe Paterno death watch, the Obama Justice Department is working to stab homeowners in the back and let the big banks off the hook for liability for the fraud they’ve committed and continue to commit.

    Talks set out terms of US mortgage deal

    By Shahien Nasiripour and Kara Scannell at Financial Times

    Banks and government negotiators have cleared a big hurdle in efforts to resolve allegations of widespread mortgage-related misdeeds, agreeing on terms for a settlement that are being circulated to the 50 US states for approval, state officials and a bank representative say.

    The proposed pact would potentially reduce mortgage balances and monthly payments by more than $25bn for distressed US homeowners, these five people said.

    The tentative agreement still must be approved by all 50 state attorneys-general, and negotiators have previously missed proposed deadlines. Participants described the proposal terms as set, meaning the states will be asked either to agree to them or decline to participate.

    The amount of potential aid is contingent on state participation and would decrease significantly if big states do not sign the agreement. New York and California are among several states that have voiced concerns about the terms of the proposed deal with Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and Ally Financial. New York and California are particularly concerned with the part of the deal that would absolve the banks of civil liability for allegedly illegal mortgage-related conduct.

    California borrowers would be eligible to receive more than $10bn in aid if the state were to agree to the terms, according to several people involved in the talks.

    It’s pretty obvious that by offering California 40% of the settlement that the Obama administration is trying very hard to pull their AG, Kamala Harris, back into the agreement. So far the pressure from her constituents is winning out over bribes that in the end would short change California home owners. From Marcy Wheeler at emptywheel:

    Remember the “Cornhusker Kickback”? That was the $45 million in expanded Medicaid funding Ben Nelson demanded from the Obama Administration before he’d support Health Insurance Reform. The special treatment for Nebraska gave the reform effort a tawdry feel.

    And just as importantly, it did nothing to improve Nelson’s popularity in his own state. When he announced he would not run for reelection in December, reporters pointed to the Cornhusker Kickback as one issue that was making his reelection increasingly unlikely. [..]

    Yet it seems like Obama’s trying something similar in his effort to get CA’s Kamala Harris to join in his foreclosure settlement, with $10 billion in aid slated for CA’s struggling homeowners.

    It would seem that Obama is having a hard time getting the Democratic AG’s on board.

    Foreclosure Fraud Settlement Terms Laid Out, But Holdout AGs Not Signed On

    by David Dayen at FDL News Desk

    When I started digging into whether this Monday meeting with HUD and DoJ officials to go over a proposal for a foreclosure fraud settlement was legitimate, I couldn’t find one state Attorney General who mattered actually committed to showing up. When I say AGs who “matter,” I mean the ones who have been critical of a settlement in the past. I mean the Justice Democrats. I mean Eric Schneiderman in New York, Beau Biden in Delaware, Martha Coakley in Massachusetts, Catherine Cortez Masto in Nevada, Kamala Harris in California, not to mention the AGs from Hawaii, New Hampshire, Missouri, Mississippi, Maryland, Kentucky, Minnesota, Oregon and Montana who showed up (either themselves or representatives) at the meeting in DC last week to discuss alternatives to a settlement. I mean them. They aren’t going to Chicago, by all accounts. [,,]

    But again, I’ve seen no evidence that anyone outside of the small circle of the Administration and the AGs on the executive committee negotiating the deal actually agree to it. Call it the 12-state deal, rather than the 50-state one. This is only closer to getting done in the sense that the folks who have wanted to cave all along are ready to do so.

    So what can we do as individuals to get our state Attorney Generals to support homeowners and reject this sell out to the big banks? Yves Smith at naked capitalism lays out three reasons they should oppose this settlement and says to call them:

    Here are some of the reasons to oppose a settlement:

    1. There have been virtually no investigations, and the Administration has engaged in cover-ups rather than trying to get to the bottom of the mortgage mess

    2. The big argument made in favor of the deal, that it will help borrowers, is patently false. Remember, Countrywide entered into a deal with attorney generals just like this, where they agreed to do mods in return for a settlement on abuses. Guess what? They didn’t do the mods. To add insult to injury, they actually abused homeowners who should have gotten mods. Nevada AG is suing Countrywide now over its failure to comply with the terms of its settlement. And even if some mods miraculously did get done, the settlement is designed to have banks hit a dollar amount. That means they will focus on the biggest loans, which means any relief will go to a comparatively small number of people in (originally) big ticket houses.

    3. The Administration has only one chance to get this right. Now you might argue that Team Obama has no intention of getting the mortgage mess right, but the tectonic plates suddenly seem to be moving in elite circles. The Fed realizes that housing is a BIG problem and has even started making noise about it. Yet Obama is moving forward with a plan cooked up in late 2010 that is completely out of whack with the urgency and severity of the problem. Note that this settlement will NOT stop private actions, such as borrowers fighting foreclosures. And we will continue to banks refuse to take losses and drag out foreclosures to maximize fees. That will lead to continued pressure on housing prices in many markets as buyers stay on the sidelines, fearful of buying before a large shadow inventory clears. [..]

    PLEASE call them TODAY. Here is a list of phone numbers. If you can’t get through, send an e-mail.

    Please also sign this petition from Campaign for America’s Future (it has some talking points if you need them for the AG calls). Note you can opt out of being put on their mailing list (I know that has been a sore point with some past petitions). I know it is futile to ping Obama, but they will collect the number of people who sign, and that will in turn bolster the dissident AGs.

    Please call today. Unlike Congresscritters, who get a lot of constituent mail and phone calls, AGs get much less in the way of messages from state citizens, so your calls will make a difference.

    Thanks for your help.

    FL IG: Nothing to See Here. Move On

    Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

    The Florida Inspector General, Jeff Atwater issued a statement (pdf) deciding not to investigate the forced resignation of two lawyers who led a crackdown on foreclosure fraud. The report concluded that no one in the office of Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi broke any laws or rules.

    naked capitalism‘s Yves Smith explains the “hatchet job” that this report reveals:

    Now narrowly, there may indeed be nothing to investigate relative to their firing, in that workers in the US have pretty close to zero rights and a boss can indeed fire someone simply for not sharing his sense of priories. But there is a more general question of public interest as to whether a firing in a public office was indeed politically motivated, particularly if the investigators were ruffling the feathers of parties that the AG did not want to annoy (and as the brief one page conclusion notes, Florida does have statutes against “misuse of a public position” but query how that is interpreted in practice).

    Effectively, this “review” is an effort at reputation/character assassination via the release of pretty much only one side of a “he said, she said” (Clarkson and Edwards were given a brief phone interview which was limited to two conversations Lawson had with them about their performance; they were given no opportunity to contest the allegations made in the subsequent interviews, which were not just with Lawson, Conners, and Muniz, but also five other members of the AG’s office).[..]

    To put it mildly, if you read the 85 page document and didn’t know the context (the extensive, widespread evidence of bad conduct and strained pleadings by the foreclosure mills and LPS, and the prior tip top reviews received by Clarkson and Edwards), you’d think they were fuckups of the first order and were lucky to have jobs. This is heresay presented as unvarished truth, and the unsupported (and as we will discuss later, often obviously untrue or at best misleading) charges extend to two Florida foreclosure fraud investigators, Lisa Epstein and Lynn Szymoniak. [..]

    For clarity and overview of just how the Florida Attorney General’s office has become so corrupt, David Dayen at FDL explains how the departure of the an old school Republican as AG and, at the same time, the resignation of economic crimes division led to the whitewash of the firings:

    (Bill) McCollum left the AGs office in January, replaced by a different Republican, Pam Bondi. At the same time, the longtime director of the economic crimes division left, and Richard Lawson, a former defense attorney for white collar criminals – mainly bank officials – came in. As Lawson acknowledges in his statement to the IG report (more on that in a minute), he received complaints from the lawyers of several of the defendants in Clarkson and Edwards’ cases, in particular Lender Processing Services (LPS), which was part of a multistate investigation at the time.

    Lawson immediately went to work criticizing Clarkson and Edwards’ conduct, disputing their claims, savaging the work of their office, and micromanaging their investigations (but only the foreclosure fraud investigations, not their other work). By May they were out, fired by Lawson and Bondi. They were given 90 minutes to pack up their things and leave the office, and lost access to all their files and emails. [..]

    The most potentially damning part of the IG report concerns a draft subpoena that was part of a multistate investigation against LPS. Lawson claims that Clarkson leaked the subpoena to Epstein, which Epstein contends was part of a public records request. Those can be done verbally in the state of Florida, but Lawson claims that there’s no record of it. Epstein added that she has received receipt of previous public records requests from the AGs office. In the case of the LPS subpoena, Lawson contends that it would not fall under a public records request. But Epstein says she never published a draft LPS subpoena, or circulate it to the media, and so it’s impossible for other state AGs to complain that “the subpoena came up on the blog.” Because Clarkson and Edwards have no access to their emails anymore, “it’s difficult to respond to the report.” Days after the alleged leak of the subpoena, Clarkson and Edwards were fired.

    And the deeper that you look into the IG’s report the worse it gets. More from Yves:

    Abigail Field’s post on how the Florida attorney general’s office befriends foreclosure fraudsters is an important, if nausea-inducing read. One of the striking sections that makes the extent of the corruption clear is a snippet toward the end. It show how the AG’s office acted to help Lender Processing Services do damage control, when it had LPS under investigation for foreclosure frauds.

    Field points out that the investigation of LPS was launched under the previous AG, Bill McCollum, and is supposedly still active. [..]

    Field goes through the current AG Pam Bondi’s fraudster-favoring conduct, which is less surprising than it ought to be, since the AG’s Economic Crimes Division has a proud history of being more in bed with probable criminals than against them. Here Field relies on the report of a former seven year staffer in the AG’s office, attorney Andrew Spark, who wrote after Bondi took office about the long standing considerable obstacles to serving the public interest, such as the all too predictable revolving door (with former employees going to foreclosure mills). While Spark made it clear that he was not a supporter of the aggressive Clarkson/Edwards position (these were the two employees we wrote about yesterday who were fired under suspicious circumstances), he nevertheless presents damning evidence in the section of his letter titled “Powerful interests have influence.”

    The message, as Yves states, is very clear, doing your job efficiently in Florida will get you fired and your reputation destroyed because it’s more important to protect the banks than the homeowners they defrauded.

    The Sham Of Foreclosure Relief

    Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

    The Obama administration under the guise of trying to look like they are helping the 99% with the massive problem of the housing collapse, the banks are still let off the hook for fraud. It is crystal clear that the financial good old boys are being protected by this administration.

    Foreclosure Relief? Don’t Hold Your Breath

    by Gretchen Morgenson

    So many were skeptical when the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency announced yet another program in April. This one was intended to provide reparations to homeowners who’d been hurt financially by foreclosure abuses at banks.

    As the details trickle out, the program looks like more of the disappointing same. “This is just the next program that’s getting people’s hopes up,” said Alys Cohen, staff attorney at the National Consumer Law Center in Washington. “Not only will it not help people, it could easily harm them.”

    The program arose out of a regulatory review in late 2010 of loan servicing practices at the nation’s largest banks. The review followed the robo-signing scandal that erupted after consumer lawyers – not regulators, mind you – identified numerous apparent forgeries and other improper foreclosure documents filed with courts by banks and their representatives. [..]

    Some of the problems were aired at a Senate subcommittee hearing on Dec. 13. Three Democrats – Robert Menendez of New Jersey, Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Jack Reed of Rhode Island – expressed doubts about the program to Julie L. Williams, chief counsel at the comptroller’s office. The senators were especially vocal about the potential for conflicts of interest among the consultants hired to conduct the reviews. [..]

    Michael Olenick, a specialist in mortgage research, said he spotted a conflicted consultant after one hour of digging. Allonhill, a smallish firm appointed by Aurora Bank, a mortgage servicer, is headed by Sue Allon, whose previous small firm acted as credit risk manager in a 2003 mortgage pool for which Aurora oversaw the loans’ servicing. The prospectus on that deal noted that Murrayhill, Ms. Allon’s former firm, would “monitor and advise the servicers with respect to default management of the mortgage loans.” It also said that Murrayhill would make recommendations to the servicers regarding delinquent loans.

    Now, under the comptroller office’s program, Ms. Allon’s firm may be analyzing the treatment of borrowers on whose loans it acted as credit risk manager. “This conflict is so deep and so obvious, how could anybody have missed it?” Mr. Olenick asked.

    What is even more troublesome is that, as Yves Smith at naked capitalism emphasizes, homeowners are required to give up rights that may be needed to protect themselves in the future:

    This is yet another Obama Administration “pretend we are helping ordinary citizens when we are in fact helping the banks” scheme. The most damning tidbit comes late in the article, that borrowers may (I’d assume will) be asked to sign releases that are far broader than the matters under examination. In other words, to get whatever relief the OCC provides, borrowers may unwittingly give up rights worth far more:

       For example, participants in line to get remuneration may be asked to give up their rights to defend themselves if they get into financial trouble again.

       “This process is not meant to fix the original lending practices, so people need to hang on to their right to challenge the original loan later,” she [Cohen] said.

    And after all that, the homeowner could still lose their home. This didn’t surprise Alys Cohen who said, “This is the O.C.C . that we’re talking about, [,,] It has a long record of favoring banks over homeowners.”  

    Investigating Fannie & Freddie But Not The Banks

    Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

    Another slap on the wrist by the government for the banks that caused the housing bubble and the crash that sank the economy world wide with unregulated derivatives and credit default swaps:

    DoJ Settles – Again – With Countrywide on Fair Lending Claim

    by David Dayen

    The Department of Justice has announced a $335 million settlement with Countrywide, the former subprime mortgage giant now subsumed into Bank of America, on claims of housing discrimination.

       The Justice Department on Wednesday announced the largest residential fair-lending settlement in history, saying that Bank of America had agreed to pay $335 million to settle allegations that its Countrywide Financial unit discriminated against black and Hispanic borrowers during the housing boom.

       A department investigation concluded that Countrywide had charged higher fees and rates to more than 200,000 minority borrowers across the country than to white borrowers who posed the same credit risk. It also steered more than 10,000 minority borrowers into costly subprime mortgages when white borrowers with similar credit profiles received prime loans, the department said.

       The pattern and practice covered the years 2004 to 2008, before Countrywide was acquired by Bank of America.

       “The department’s actions against Countrywide makes clear that we will not hesitate to hold financial institutions accountable, including one of the nation’s largest, for discrimination,” Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said. “These institutions should make judgments based on applicants’ creditworthiness, not on the color of their skin.”

    I’m waiting for someone to hold financial institutions accountable for discrimination against every one of its customers, by defrauding them and destroying the residential home mortgage market. That’s obviously not going to happen here.[..]

    Here’s the settlement agreement, and once again you see that Countrywide doesn’t have to admit wrongdoing for their crimes.

    But the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission will enthusiastically pursue the one agency that didn’t cause the crash but just inherited it, at tax payers expense:

    FBI Now Investigating Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

    by David Dayen

    The walls have closed in over the past couple weeks on mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The SEC charged former CEOs and executives at the companies with fraud. California Attorney General Kamala Harris sued them for imformation (sic)in a wide-ranging fraud investigation. And now we learn that the FBI is investigating them[..]

    If Fannie and Freddie are guilty of misleading investors, they deserve to pay the penalty. And yet, I do sense more enthusiasm to go after these government sponsored enterprises than to go after the private banking firms which were far more responsible for subprime. This feeds a false narrative that government somehow caused the financial crisis by forcing lending to poor people. Fannie and Freddie followed the market in subprime and did not originate it.

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