Securitization for Lawyers: How it was Written by Wall Street Banks

For more information on foreclosure offense, expert witness consultations and foreclosure defense please call 954-495-9867 or 520-405-1688. We offer litigation support in all 50 states to attorneys. We refer new clients without a referral fee or co-counsel fee unless we are retained for litigation support. Bankruptcy lawyers take note: Don’t be too quick admit the loan exists nor that a default occurred and especially don’t admit the loan is secured. FREE INFORMATION, ARTICLES AND FORMS CAN BE FOUND ON LEFT SIDE OF THE BLOG. Consultations available by appointment in person, by Skype and by phone.

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Continuing with my article THE CONCEPT OF SECURITIZATION from yesterday, we have been looking at the CONCEPT of Securitization and determined there is nothing theoretically wrong with it. That alone accounts for tens of thousands of defenses” raised in foreclosure actions across the country where borrowers raised the “defense” securitization. No such thing exists. Foreclosure defense is contract defense — i.e., you need to prove that in your case the elements of contract are absent and THAT is why the note or the mortgage cannot be enforced. Keep in mind that it is entirely possible to prove that the mortgage is unenforceable even if the note remains enforceable. But as we have said in a hundred different ways, it does not appear to me that in most cases, the loan contract ever existed, or that the acquisition contract in which the loan was being “purchased” ever occurred. But much of THAT argument is left for tomorrow’s article on Securitization as it was practiced by Wall Street banks.

So we know that the concept of securitization is almost as old as commerce itself. The idea of reducing risk and increasing the opportunity for profits is an essential element of commerce and capitalism. Selling off pieces of a venture to accomplish a reduction of risk on one ship or one oil well or one loan has existed legally and properly for a long time without much problem except when a criminal used the system against us — like Ponzi, Madoff or Drier or others. And broadening the venture to include many ships, oil wells or loans makes sense to further reduce risk and increase the likelihood of a healthy profit through volume.

Syndication of loans has been around as long as banking has existed. Thus agreements to share risk and profit or actually selling “shares” of loans have been around, enabling banks to offer loans to governments, big corporations or even little ones. In the case of residential loans, few syndications are known to have been used. In 1983, syndications called securitizations appeared in residential loans, credit cards, student loans, auto loans and all types of other consumer loans where the issuance of IPO securities representing shares of bundles of debt.

For logistical and legal reasons these securitizations had to be structured to enable the flow of loans into “special purpose vehicles” (SPV) which were simply corporations, partnerships or Trusts that were formed for the sole purpose of taking ownership of loans that were originated or acquired with the money the SPV acquired from an offering of “bonds” or other “shares” representing an undivided fractional share of the entire portfolio of that particular SPV.

The structural documents presented to investors included the Prospectus, Subscription Agreement, and Pooling and Servicing Agreement (PSA). The prospectus is supposed to disclose the use of proceeds and the terms of the payback. Since the offering is in the form of a bond, it is actually a loan from the investor to the Trust, coupled with a fractional ownership interest in the alleged “pool of assets” that is going into the Trust by virtue of the Trustee’s acceptance of the assets. That acceptance executed by the Trustee is in the Pooling and Servicing Agreement, which is an exhibit to the Prospectus. In theory that is proper. The problem is that the assets don’t exist, can’t be put in the trust and the proceeds of sale of the Trust mortgage-backed bonds doesn’t go into the Trust or any account that is under the authority of the Trustee.

The writing of the securitization documents was done by a handful of law firms under the direction of a few individual lawyers, most of whom I have not been able to identify. One of them is located in Chicago. There are some reports that 9 lawyers from a New Jersey law firm resigned rather than participate in the drafting of the documents. The reports include emails from the 9 lawyers saying that they refused to be involved in the writing of a “criminal enterprise.”

I believe the report is true, after reading so many documents that purport to create a securitization scheme. The documents themselves start off with what one would and should expect in the terms and provisions of a Prospectus, Pooling and Servicing Agreement etc. But as you read through them, you see the initial terms and provisions eroded to the point of extinction. What is left is an amalgam of options for the broker dealers selling the mortgage backed bonds.

The options all lead down roads that are absolutely opposite to what any real party in interest would allow or give their consent or agreement. The lenders (investors) would never have agreed to what was allowed in the documents. The rating agencies and insurers and guarantors would never have gone along with the scheme if they had truly understood what was intended. And of course the “borrowers” (homeowners) had no idea that claims of securitization existed as to the origination or intended acquisition their loans. Allan Greenspan, former Federal Reserve Chairman, said he read the documents and couldn’t understand them. He also said that he had more than 100 PhD’s and lawyers who read them and couldn’t understand them either.

Greenspan believed that “market forces” would correct the ambiguities. That means he believed that people who were actually dealing with these securities as buyers, sellers, rating agencies, insurers and guarantors would reject them if the appropriate safety measures were not adopted. After he left the Federal Reserve he admitted he was wrong. Market forces did not and could not correct the deficiencies and defects in the entire process.

The REAL document is the Assignment and Assumption Agreement that is NOT usually disclosed or attached as an exhibit to the Prospectus. THAT is the agreement that controls everything that happens with the borrower at the time of the alleged “closing.” See me on YouTube to explain the Assignment and Assumption Agreement. Suffice it to say that contrary to the representations made in the sale of the bonds by the broker to the investor, the money from the investor goes into the control of the broker dealer and NOT the REMIC Trust. The Broker Dealer filters some of the money down to closings in the name of “originators” ranging from large (Wells Fargo, Countrywide) to small (First Magnus et al). I’ll tell you why tomorrow or the next day. The originators are essentially renting their names the same as the Trustees of the REMIC Trusts. It looks right but isn’t what it appears. Done properly, the lender on the note and mortgage would be the REMIC Trust or a common aggregator. But if the Banks did it properly they wouldn’t have had such a joyful time in the moral hazard zone.

The PSA turned out to be the primary document creating the Trusts that were creating primarily under the laws of the State of New York because New York and a few other states had a statute that said that any variance from the express terms of the Trust was VOID, not voidable. This gave an added measure of protection to the investors that the SPV would not be used for any purpose other than what was described, and eliminated the need for them to sue the Trustee or the Trust for misuse of their funds. What the investors did not understand was that there were provisions in the enabling documents that allowed the brokers and other intermediaries to ignore the Trust altogether, assert ownership in the name of a broker or broker-controlled entity and trade on both the loans and the bonds.

The Prospectus SHOULD have contained the full list of all loans that were being aggregated into the SPV or Trust. And the Trust instrument (PSA) should have shown that the investors were receiving not only a promise to repay them but also a share ownership in the pool of loans. One of the first signals that Wall Street was running an illegal scheme was that most prospectuses stated that the pool assets were disclosed in an attached spreadsheet, which contained the description of loans that were already in existence and were then accepted by the Trustee of the SPV (REMIC Trust) in the Pooling and Servicing Agreement. The problem was that the vast majority of Prospectuses and Pooling and Servicing agreements either omitted the exhibit showing the list of loans or stated outright that the attached list was not the real list and that the loans on the spreadsheet were by example only and not the real loans.

Most of the investors were “stable managed funds.” This is a term of art that applied to retirement, pension and similar type of managed funds that were under strict restrictions about the risk they could take, which is to say, the risk had to be as close to zero as possible. So in order to present a pool that the fund manager of a stable managed fund could invest fund assets the investment had to qualify under the rules and regulations restricting the activities of stable managed funds. The presence of stable managed funds buying the bonds or shares of the Trust also encouraged other types of investors to buy the bonds or shares.

But the number of loans (which were in the thousands) in each bundle made it impractical for the fund managers of stable managed funds to examine the portfolio. For the most part, if they done so they would not found one loan that was actually in existence and obviously would not have done the deal. But they didn’t do it. They left it on trust for the broker dealers to prove the quality of the investment in bonds or shares of the SPV or Trust.

So the broker dealers who were creating the SPVs (Trusts) and selling the bonds or shares, went to the rating agencies which are quasi governmental units that give a score not unlike the credit score given to individuals. Under pressure from the broker dealers, the rating agencies went from quality culture to a profit culture. The broker dealers were offering fees and even premium on fees for evaluation and rating of the bonds or shares they were offering. They HAD to have a rating that the bonds or shares were “investment grade,” which would enable the stable managed funds to buy the bonds or shares. The rating agencies were used because they had been independent sources of evaluation of risk and viability of an investment, especially bonds — even if the bonds were not treated as securities under a 1998 law signed into law by President Clinton at the behest of both republicans and Democrats.

Dozens of people in the rating agencies set off warning bells and red flags stating that these were not investment grade securities and that the entire SPV or Trust would fail because it had to fail.  The broker dealers who were the underwriters on nearly all the business done by the rating agencies used threats, intimidation and the carrot of greater profits to get the ratings they wanted. and responded to threats that the broker would get the rating they wanted from another rating agency and that they would not ever do business with the reluctant rating agency ever again — threatening to effectively put the rating agency out of business. At the rating agencies, the “objectors” were either terminated or reassigned. Reports in the Wal Street Journal show that it was custom and practice for the rating officers to be taken on fishing trips or other perks in order to get the required the ratings that made Wall Street scheme of “securitization” possible.

This threat was also used against real estate appraisers prompting them in 2005 to send a petition to Congress signed by 8,000 appraisers, in which they said that the instructions for appraisal had been changed from a fair market value appraisal to an appraisal that would make each deal work. the appraisers were told that if they didn’t “play ball” they would never be hired again to do another appraisal. Many left the industry, but the remaining ones, succumbed to the pressure and, like the rating agencies, they gave the broker dealers what they wanted. And insurers of the bonds or shares freely issued policies based upon the same premise — the rating from the respected rating agencies. And ultimate this also effected both guarantors of the loans and “guarantors” of the bonds or shares in the Trusts.

So the investors were now presented with an insured investment grade rating from a respected and trusted source. The interest rate return was attractive — i.e., the expected return was higher than any of the current alternatives that were available. Some fund managers still refused to participate and they are the only ones that didn’t lose money in the crisis caused by Wall Street — except for a period of time through the negative impact on the stock market and bond market when all securities became suspect.

In order for there to be a “bundle” of loans that would go into a pool owned by the Trust there had to be an aggregator. The aggregator was typically the CDO Manager (CDO= Collateralized Debt Obligation) or some entity controlled by the broker dealer who was selling the bonds or shares of the SPV or Trust. So regardless of whether the loan was originated with funds from the SPV or was originated by an actual lender who sold the loan to the trust, the debts had to be processed by the aggregator to decide who would own them.

In order to protect the Trust and the investors who became Trust beneficiaries, there was a structure created that made it look like everything was under control for their benefit. The Trust was purchasing the pool within the time period prescribed by the Internal Revenue Code. The IRC allowed the creation of entities that were essentially conduits in real estate mortgages — called Real Estate Mortgage Investment Conduits (REMICs). It allows for the conduit to be set up and to “do business” for 90 days during which it must acquire whatever assets are being acquired. The REMIC Trust then distributes the profits to the investors. In reality, the investors were getting worthless bonds issued by unfunded trusts for the acquisition of assets that were never purchased (because the trusts didn’t have the money to buy them).

The TRUSTEE of the REMIC Trust would be called a Trustee and should have had the powers and duties of a Trustee. But instead the written provisions not only narrowed the duties and obligations of the Trustee but actual prevented both the Trustee and the beneficiaries from even inquiring about the actual portfolio or the status of any loan or group of loans. The way it was written, the Trustee of the REMIC Trust was in actuality renting its name to appear as Trustee in order to give credence to the offering to investors.

There was also a Depositor whose purpose was to receive, process and store documents from the loan closings — except for the provisions that said, no, the custodian, would store the records. In either case it doesn’t appear that either the Depositor nor the “custodian” ever received the documents. In fact, it appears as though the documents were mostly purposely lost and destroyed, as per the Iowa University study conducted by Katherine Ann Porter in 2007. Like the others, the Depositor was renting its name as though ti was doing something when it was doing nothing.

And there was a servicer described as a Master Servicer who could delegate certain functions to subservicers. And buried in the maze of documents containing hundreds of pages of mind-numbing descriptions and representations, there was a provision that stated the servicer would pay the monthly payment to the investor regardless of whether the borrower made any payment or not. The servicer could stop making those payments if it determined, in its sole discretion, that it was not “recoverable.”

This was the hidden part of the scheme that might be a simple PONZI scheme. The servicers obviously could have no interest in making payments they were not receiving from borrowers. But they did have an interest in continuing payments as long as investors were buying bonds. THAT is because the Master Servicers were the broker dealers, who were selling the bonds or shares. Those same broker dealers designated their own departments as the “underwriter.” So the underwriters wrote into the prospectus the presence of a “reserve” account, the source of funding for which was never made clear. That was intentionally vague because while some of the “servicer advance” money might have come from the investors themselves, most of it came from external “profits” claimed by the broker dealers.

The presence of  servicer advances is problematic for those who are pursuing foreclosures. Besides the fact that they could not possibly own the loan, and that they couldn’t possibly be a proper representative of an owner of the loan or Holder in Due Course, the actual creditor (the group of investors or theoretically the REMIC Trust) never shows a default of any kind even when the servicers or sub-servicers declare a default, send a notice of default, send a notice of acceleration etc. What they are doing is escalating their volunteer payments to the creditor — made for their own reasons — to the status of a holder or even a holder in due course — despite the fact that they never acquired the loan, the debt, the note or the mortgage.

The essential fact here is that the only paperwork that shows actual transfer of money is that which contains a check or wire transfer from investor to the broker dealer — and then from the broker dealer to various entities including the CLOSING AGENT (not the originator) who applied the funds to a closing in which the originator was named as the Lender when they had never advanced any funds, were being paid as a vendor, and would sign anything, just to get another fee. The money received by the borrower or paid on behalf of the borrower was money from the investors, not the Trust.

So the note should have named the investors, not the Trust nor the originator. And the mortgage should have made the investors the mortgagee, not the Trust nor the originator. The actual note and mortgage signed in favor of the originator were both void documents because they failed to identify the parties to the loan contract. Another way of looking at the same thing is to say there was no loan contract because neither the investors nor the borrowers knew or understood what was happening at the closing, neither had an opportunity to accept or reject the loan, and neither got title to the loan nor clear title after the loan. The investors were left with a debt that could be recovered probably as a demand loan, but which was unsecured by any mortgage or security agreement.

To counter that argument these intermediaries are claiming possession of the note and mortgage (a dubious proposal considering the Porter study) and therefore successfully claiming, incorrectly, that the facts don’t matter, and they have the absolute right to prevail in a foreclosure on a home secured by a mortgage that names a non-creditor as mortgagee without disclosure of the true source of funds. By claiming legal presumptions, the foreclosers are in actuality claiming that form should prevail over substance.

Thus the broker-dealers created written instruments that are the opposite of the Concept of Securitization, turning complete transparency into a brick wall. Investor should have been receiving verifiable reports and access into the portfolio of assets, none of which in actuality were ever purchased by the Trust, because the pooling and servicing agreement is devoid of any representation that the loans have been purchased by the Trust or that the Trust paid for the pool of loans. Most of the actual transfers occurred after the cutoff date for REMIC status under the IRC, violating the provisions of the PSA/Trust document that states the transfer must be complete within the 90 day cutoff period. And it appears as though the only documents even attempted to be transferred into the pool are those that are in default or in foreclosure. The vast majority of the other loans are floating in cyberspace where anyone can grab them if they know where to look.

Securitization for Lawyers

For more information on foreclosure offense, expert witness consultations and foreclosure defense please call 954-495-9867 or 520-405-1688. We offer litigation support in all 50 states to attorneys. We refer new clients without a referral fee or co-counsel fee unless we are retained for litigation support. Bankruptcy lawyers take note: Don’t be too quick admit the loan exists nor that a default occurred and especially don’t admit the loan is secured. FREE INFORMATION, ARTICLES AND FORMS CAN BE FOUND ON LEFT SIDE OF THE BLOG. Consultations available by appointment in person, by Skype and by phone.

The CONCEPT of securitization does not contemplate an increase in violations of lending laws passed by States or the Federal government. Far from it. The CONCEPT anticipated a decrease in risk, loss and liability for violations of TILA, RESPA or state deceptive lending laws. The assumption was that the strictly regulated stable managed funds (like pensions), insurers, and guarantors would ADD to the protections to investors as lenders and homeowners as borrowers. That it didn’t work that way is the elephant in the living room. It shows that the concept was not followed, the written instruments reveal a sneaky intent to undermine the concept. The practices of the industry violated everything — the lending laws, investment restrictions, and the securitization documents themselves. — Neil F Garfield, Livinglies.me

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“Securitization” is a word that provokes many emotional reactions ranging from hatred to frustration. Beliefs run the range from the idea that securitization is evil to the idea that it is irrelevant. Taking the “irrelevant” reaction first, I would say that comes from ignorance and frustration. To look at a stack of Documents, each executed with varying formalities, and each being facially valid and then call them all irrelevant is simply burying your head in the sand. On the other hand, calling securitization evil is equivalent to rejecting capitalism. So let’s look at securitization dispassionately.

First of all “securitization” merely refers to a concept that has been in operation for hundreds of years, perhaps thousands of years if you look into the details of commerce and investment. In our recent history it started with “joint stock companies” that financed sailing expeditions for goods and services. Instead of one person or one company taking all the risk that one ship might not come back, or come back with nothing, investors could spread their investment dollars by buying shares in a “joint stock company” that invested their money in multiple sailing ventures. So if some ship came in loaded with goods it would more than offset the ships that sunk, were pirated, or that lost their cargo. Diversifying risk produced more reliable profits and virtually eliminated the possibility of financial ruin because of the tragedies the befell a single cargo ship.

Every stock certificate or corporate or even government bond is the product of securitization. In our capitalist society, securitization is essential to attract investment capital and therefore growth. For investors it is a way of participating in the risk and rewards of companies run by officers and directors who present a believable vision of success. Investors can invest in one company alone, but most, thanks to capitalism and securitization, are able to invest in many companies and many government issued bonds. In all cases, each stock certificate or bond certificate is a “derivative” — i.e., it DERIVES ITS VALUE from the economic value of the company or government that issued that stock certificate or bond certificate.

In other words, securitization is a vehicle for diversification of investment. Instead of one “all or nothing” investment, the investors gets to spread the risk over multiple companies and governments. The investor can do this in one of two ways — either manage his own investments buying and selling stocks and bonds, or investing in one or more managed funds run by professional managers buying and selling stocks and bonds. Securitization of debt has all the elements of diversification and is essential to the free flow of commerce in a capitalistic economy.

Preview Questions:

  • What happens if the money from investors is NOT put in the company or given to the government?
  • What happens if the certificates are NOT delivered back to investors?
  • What happens if the company that issued the stock never existed or were not used as an investment vehicle as promised to investors?
  • What happens to “profits” that are reported by brokers who used investor money in ways never contemplated, expected or accepted by investors?
  • Who is accountable under laws governing the business of the IPO entity (i.e., the REMIC Trust in our context).
  • Who are the victims of misbehavior of intermediaries?
  • Who bears the risk of loss caused by misbehavior of intermediaries?
  • What are the legal questions and issues that arise when the joint stock company is essentially an instrument of fraud? (See Madoff, Drier etc. where the “business” was actually collecting money from lenders and investors which was used to pay prior investors the expected return).

In order to purchase a security deriving its value from mortgage loans, you could diversify by buying fractional shares of specific loans you like (a new and interesting business that is internet driven) or you could go the traditional route — buying fractional shares in multiple companies who are buying loans in bulk. The share certificates you get derive their value from the value of the IPO issuer of the shares (a REMIC Trust, usually). Like any company, the REMIC Trust derives its value from the value of its business. And the REMIC business derives its value from the quality of the loan originations and loan acquisitions. Fulfillment of the perceived value is derived from effective servicing and enforcement of the loans.

All investments in all companies and all government issued bonds or other securities are derivatives simply because they derive their value from something described on the certificate. With a stock certificate, the value is derived from a company whose name appears on the certificate. That tells you which company you invested your money. The number of shares tells you how many shares you get. The indenture to the stock certificate or bond certificate describes the voting rights, rights to  distributions of income, and rights to distribution of the company is sold or liquidated. But this assumes that the company or government entity actually exists and is actually doing business as described in the IPO prospectus and subscription agreement.

The basic element of value and legal rights in such instruments is that there must be a company doing business in the name of the company who is shown on the share certificates — i.e., there must be actual financial transactions by the named parties that produce value for shareholders in the IPO entity, and the holders of certificates must have a right to receive those benefits. The securitization of a company through an IPO that offers securities to investors offer one additional legal fiction that is universally enforced — limited liability. Limited liability refers to the fact that the investment is at risk (if the company or REMIC fails) but the investor can’t lose more than he or she invested.

Translated to securitization of debt, there must be a transaction that is an actual loan of money that is not merely presumed, but which is real. That loan, like a stock certificate, must describe the actual debtor and the actual creditor. An investor does not intentionally buy a share of loans that were purchased from people who did not make any loans or conduct any lending business in which they were the source of lending.

While there are provisions in the law that can make a promissory note payable to anyone who is holding it, there is no allowance for enforcing a non-existent loan except in the event that the purchaser is a “Holder in Due Course.” The HDC can enforce both the note and mortgage because he has satisfied both Article 3 and Article 9 of the Uniform Commercial Code. The Pooling and Servicing Agreements of REMIC Trusts require compliance with the UCC, and other state and federal laws regarding originating or acquiring residential mortgage loans.

In short, the PSA requires that the Trust become a Holder in Due Course in order for the Trustee of the Trust to accept the loan as part of the pool owned by the Trust on behalf of the Trust Beneficiaries who have received a “certificate” of fractional ownership in the Trust. Anything less than HDC status is unacceptable. And if you were the investor you would want nothing less. You would want loans that cannot be defended on the basis of violation of lending laws and practices.

The loan, as described in the origination documents, must actually exist. A stock certificate names the company that is doing business. The loan describes the debtor and creditor. Any failure to describe the the debtor or creditor with precision, results in a failure of the loan contract, and the documents emerging from such a “closing” are worthless. If you want to buy a share of IBM you don’t buy a share of Itty Bitty Machines, Inc., which was just recently incorporated with its assets consisting of a desk and a chair. The name on the certificate or other legal document is extremely important.

In loan documents, the only exception to the “value” proposition in the event of the absence of an actual loan is another legal fiction designed to promote the free flow of commerce. It is called “Holder in Due Course.” The loan IS enforceable in the absence of an actual loan between the parties on the loan documents, if a third party innocent purchases the loan documents for value in good faith and without knowledge of the borrower’s defense of failure of consideration (he didn’t get the loan from the creditor named on the note and mortgage).  This is a legislative decision made by virtually all states — if you sign papers, you are taking the risk that your promises will be enforced against you even if your counterpart breached the loan contract from the start. The risk falls on the maker of the note who can sue the loan originator for misusing his signature but cannot bring all potential defenses to enforcement by the Holder in Due Course.

Florida Example:

673.3021 Holder in due course.

(1) Subject to subsection (3) and s. 673.1061(4), the term “holder in due course” means the holder of an instrument if:

(a) The instrument when issued or negotiated to the holder does not bear such apparent evidence of forgery or alteration or is not otherwise so irregular or incomplete as to call into question its authenticity; and
(b) The holder took the instrument:

1. For value;
2. In good faith;
3. Without notice that the instrument is overdue or has been dishonored or that there is an uncured default with respect to payment of another instrument issued as part of the same series;
4. Without notice that the instrument contains an unauthorized signature or has been altered;
5. Without notice of any claim to the instrument described in s. 673.3061; and
6. Without notice that any party has a defense or claim in recoupment described in s. 673.3051(1).
673.3061 Claims to an instrument.A person taking an instrument, other than a person having rights of a holder in due course, is subject to a claim of a property or possessory right in the instrument or its proceeds, including a claim to rescind a negotiation and to recover the instrument or its proceeds. A person having rights of a holder in due course takes free of the claim to the instrument.
This means that Except for HDC status, the maker of the note has a right to reclaim possession of the note or to rescind the transaction against any party who has no rights to claim it is a creditor or has rights to represent a creditor. The absence of a claim of HDC status tells a long story of fraud and intrigue.
673.3051 Defenses and claims in recoupment.

(1) Except as stated in subsection (2), the right to enforce the obligation of a party to pay an instrument is subject to:

(a) A defense of the obligor based on:

1. Infancy of the obligor to the extent it is a defense to a simple contract;
2. Duress, lack of legal capacity, or illegality of the transaction which, under other law, nullifies the obligation of the obligor;
3. Fraud that induced the obligor to sign the instrument with neither knowledge nor reasonable opportunity to learn of its character or its essential terms;
This means that if the “originator” did not loan the money and/or failed to perform underwriting tests for the viability of the loan, and gave the borrower false impressions about the viability of the loan, there is a Florida statutory right of rescission as well as a claim to reclaim the closing documents before they get into the hands of an innocent purchaser for value in good faith with no knowledge of the borrower’s defenses.

 

In the securitization of loans, the object has been to create entities with preferred tax status that are remote from the origination or purchase of the loan transactions. In other words, the REMIC Trusts are intended to be Holders in Due Course. The business of the REMIC Trust is to originate or acquire loans by payment of value, in good faith and without knowledge of the borrower’s defenses. Done correctly, appropriate market forces will apply, risks are reduced for both borrower and lenders, and benefits emerge for both sides of the single transaction between the investors who put up the money and the homeowners who received the benefit of the loan.

It is referred to as a single transaction using doctrines developed in tax law and other commercial cases. Every transaction, when you think about it, is composed of numerous actions, reactions and documents. If we treated each part as a separate transaction with no relationship to the other transactions there would be no connection between even the original lender and the borrower, much less where multiple assignments were involved. In simple terms, the single transaction doctrine basically asks one essential question — if it wasn’t for the investors putting up the money (directly or through an entity that issued an IPO) would the transaction have occurred? And the corollary is but for the borrower, would the investors have been putting up that money?  The answer is obvious in connection with mortgage loans. No business would have been conducted but for the investors advancing money and the homeowners taking it.

So neither “derivative” nor “securitization” is a dirty word. Nor is it some nefarious scheme from people from the dark side — in theory. Every REMIC Trust is the issuer in an initial public offering known as an “IPO” in investment circles. A company can do an IPO on its own where it takes the money and issues the shares or it can go through a broker who solicits investors, takes the money, delivers the money to the REMIC Trust and then delivers the Trust certificates to the investors.

Done properly, there are great benefits to everyone involved — lenders, borrowers, brokers, mortgage brokers, etc. And if “securitization” of mortgage debt had been done as described above, there would not have been a flood of money that increased prices of real property to more than twice the value of the land and buildings. Securitization of debt is meant to provide greater liquidity and lower risk to lenders based upon appropriate underwriting of each loan. Much of the investment came from stable managed funds which are strictly regulated on the risks they are allowed in managing the funds of pensioners, retirement accounts, etc.

By reducing the risk, the cost of the loans could be reduced to borrowers and the profits in creating loans would be higher. If that was what had been written in the securitization plan written by the major brokers on Wall Street, the mortgage crisis could not have happened. And if the actual practices on Wall Street had conformed at least to what they had written, the impact would have been vastly reduced. Instead, in most cases, securitization was used as the sizzle on a steak that did not exist. Investors advanced money, rating companies offered Triple AAA ratings, insurers offered insurance, guarantors guarantees loans and shares in REMIC trusts that had no possibility of achieving any value.

Today’s article was about the way the IPO securitization of residential loans was conceived and should have worked. Tomorrow we will look at the way the REMIC IPO was actually written and how the concept of securitization necessarily included layers of different companies.

Relevance: THE FORECLOSER HAS NO RIGHT TO BE IN COURT WITHOUT THE SECURITIZATION DOCUMENTS AND RECORDS

 Courts and lawyers are continually ignoring the obvious. By zeroing in on the NOTE, they are ignoring the documents that allow the person in possession of the note to be in court. That results in elimination of critical elements of a prima facie case in which the Defendant borrower lacks the superior knowledge and resources of the Plaintiff and its co-venturers that would show the truth about his loan ownership and balance.

Premise:

Chronologically the document trail starts with the securitization documents. Without the securitization documents there is no privity or nexus between the borrowers and the lenders. Neither one of them signed the deal that the other signed. Without the Assignment and Assumption Agreement, the Prospectus and the Pooling And Servicing Agreement, the trust does not exist, the servicer has no powers, the trustee has no powers, and there is no right of representation or agency between any of those parties as it relates to either the lender investors or the homeowner borrowers.

 

The Assignment and Assumption Agreement between the originator and the aggregator sets forth all the rules and actions preceding, during and after the loan”closing”, including the underwriting by parties other than the originator and the ownership of the loan by parties other than the originator. It is a contract to violate public policy, the Federal Truth in Lending Law prohibiting table funded loans designed to withhold disclosure, and usually state deceptive and predatory lending statutes.

 

The Assignment and Assumption Agreement was an agreement to commit illegal acts that were in fact committed and which strictly governed the conduct of the originator, the closing agent, the document processing, the delivery of documents, the due diligence, the underwriting, the approval by parties other than the originator and the risk of loss on parties other than the originator. The Assignment and Assumption Agreement is essential to the Court’s knowledge of the intent and reality of the closing, intentionally withheld from the borrower at closing. It cannot be anything other than relevant in any action sought to enforce the documents produced at a loan closing that was conducted in strict adherence to the illegal Assignment and Assumption Agreement.

 

The other closing is with the investors who were accepting a proposed transaction to lend money for the origination or acquisition of loans through a trust. Those documents and records (Prospectus, Pooling and Servicing Agreement, Distribution reports, etc) provide for the creation and governance of the trust, the appointment of a trustee and the powers of the trustee, and the appointment and the powers of the Master Servicer and subservicers. Those documents also provide for there requirements of reporting and record keeping, including the physical location and custody of actual loan documents. Without those documents, there is no power or authority for the trustee, the trust, the Master Servicer, the subservicer, the Depository, the Securities Administrator the purchase of insurance, credit default swap trading, funding the origination or acquisition of loans, or collection and enforcement of loan documents. without those documents the Court cannot know what records should be kept and thus what records need to be produced to show the status of the obligation in the books and records of the creditor — regardless of whether the loan was actually securitized or just claimed to be securitized.

 

Procedure and UCC
In Judicial States, the Plaintiff is bringing suit alleging a default by the Defendant on a promissory note and for enforcement of a mortgage. The name of the payee on the note is different from the name of the Plaintiff in the lawsuit. The name of the mortgagee is different from the the name of the Plaintiff. The suit is bought by (a) a trustee on behalf of the holders of securities that make the holders of those securities (Mortgage Bonds) in a NY Trust (b) the “servicer” on behalf of the trust or the holders or (c) a company that alleges it is a holder or a holder with rights to enforce. None of them assert they are holders in due course which means they concede that the Plaintiff did not buy the loan in good faith without knowledge of the borrowers defenses. They assert they are holder in which case they are subject to all of the borrowers defense — which procedurally means the issues concerning the initial loan and any subsequent transfers can be in issue if the preemptive facts are denied and appropriate affirmative defenses and counterclaims are filed. These defenses are waived at trial if an objection is not timely raised.

 

In Non-Judicial States, the name of the “new” beneficiary is different from the name of the payee on the promissory note and the name of the beneficiary on the Deed of Trust. The “new beneficiary” files a “Substitution of Trustee”, the Trustee sends a notice of default, notice of sale and notice of acceleration based upon “representations” from the “new beneficiary.” This process allows a stranger to the transaction to assert its position outside of a court of law that it is the new beneficiary and even allows the new beneficiary to name a company as the “new trustee” in the Notice of Substitution of Trustee. The foreclosure is initiated by the new trustee on the deed of trust on behalf of (a) a trustee on behalf of the holders of securities that make the holders of those securities (Mortgage Bonds) in a NY Trust (b) the “servicer” on behalf of the trust or the holders or (c) a company that alleges it is a holder or a holder with rights to enforce. None of them assert they are holders in due course which means they concede that the Plaintiff did not buy the loan in good faith without knowledge of the borrowers defenses. They assert they are holder in which case they are subject to all of the borrowers defense — which procedurally means the issues concerning the initial loan and any subsequent transfers can be in issue if the preemptive facts are denied and appropriate affirmative defenses and counterclaims are filed. These defenses are waived at trial if an objection is not timely raised. In these cases it is the burden of the borrower to timely file a motion for Temporary Injunction to stop the trustee’s sale of the property.

 

Argument:
By failing to assert with clarity the identity of the creditor on whose behalf they are “holding” the note and mortgage (or deed of trust) and failing to assert the presence of the actual creditor (holder in due course) the parties initiating foreclosure have (a) failed to assert the essential elements to enforce a note and mortgage and (b) have failed to establish a prima facie case in which the burden should shift to the borrowers to defend. The present practice of challenging the defenses first is improper and contrary to the requirements of due process and the rules of civil procedure. If the Plaintiff in Judicial states or beneficiary in non-judicial states is unable to sustain their burden of proof for a prima facie case, then Judgment should be entered for the alleged borrower.

 

Evidence:
Virtually all loans initiated or originated or acquired between 1996 and the present are subject to claims of securitization, which is the first reason why the securitization documents are relevant and must be introduced as evidence along with proof of compliance with those documents because they are almost all governed by New York State law governing common law trusts. Any act not permitted by the trust instrument (Pooling and Servicing Agreement) is void, which means for purposes of the case narrative, the act or event never occurred.

If the Plaintiff or beneficiary is alleging that it is a holder and not alleging it is a holder in due course then there is a 96% probability that the creditor is either a trust or a group of investors who paid money to a broker dealer in an IPO where securities were issued by the trust and the investors money should have been paid to the trust. In all events, the assertion of “holder” status instead of “Holder in Due Course” means by definition that one of two things is true: (1) there is no holder in due course or (2) there is a Holder in Due Course and the party initiating the foreclosure and collection proceedings is asserting authority to represent the holder in due course. In all events, the representation of holder rather than holder in due course is an admission that the party initiating the foreclosure proceeding is there in a representative capacity.

 

THE FORECLOSER HAS NO RIGHT TO BE IN COURT WITHOUT THE SECURITIZATION DOCUMENTS:

 

If the proceeding is brought by a named trust, then the existence of the trust, the authority of the trust, the manner in which the trust may acquire assets, and the authority of the servicer, Master servicer, trustee of the trust, depository, securities administrator and others all derive from the trust instrument. If there is a claim of securitization and the provisions of the securitization documents were not followed then in virtually all foreclosure cases the wrong parties are initiating the foreclosures — because the money of the investors went direct to the origination and purchase of loans rather than through the SPV Trust which for tax purposes was designed to be a REMIC pass through trust.

 

If the foreclosing party identifies itself as a servicer and as a holder it is admitting that it is there in a representative capacity. Their prima facie case therefore includes the documents and events in which acquired the right to represent the actual creditor. Those are only the securitization documents.

 

If the foreclosing party identifies itself as a holder but does not mention that it is a servicer, the same rules apply — the right to be there is a representative capacity must derive from some written instrument, which in virtually cases is the Pooling and Servicing Agreement.

 

Representations that the loan is a portfolio loan not subject to securitization are generally untrue. In a true portfolio loan the UCC would not apply but the rules governing a holder in due course can be used as guidance for the alleged transaction. The “lender” must show that it actually funded the loan, in good faith (in accordance with the requirements of Federal and State law governing lending) and without knowledge of the borrower’s defenses. They would be able to show their underwriting committee notes, reports and correspondence, the verification of the loan, the property value, the ability of the borrower to repay and all other national standards for underwriting and appraisals. These are only absent when there is no risk of loss on the alleged loan, because if the borrower doesn’t pay, the money was never destined to be received by the originator anyway.

 

In addition, the Prospectus offering to the investors combined with the Pooling and Servicing Agreement constitute the “indenture” describing the manner in which the investment will be returned to the investors, including interest, insurance proceeds, proceeds of credit default swaps, government and non government guarantees, etc. This specifies the duties and records that must be kept, where they must be kept and how the investors will receive distributions from the servicer. Proof of the balance shown by investors is the only relevant proof of a dealt and the principal balance due, applicable interest due, etc. The provisions of the contract between the creditors and the trust govern the amount and manner of distributions to the creditor. Thus it is only be reference to the creditors’ records that a prima facie case for default and the right to accelerate can be made. The servicer records do not include third party payments but do include servicer advances. If records of servicer advances are not shown in court, and the provision for servicer advances is in the prospectus and/or pooling and servicing agreement, then the Court is unable to know the balance and whether any default occurred as a result of the borrower ceasing to make payments to the servicer.

 

In short, it is the prospectus and pooling and servicing agreement that provide the framework for determining whether the creditors got paid as per their expectations pursuant to their contract with the Trust. It is only by reference to these documents that the distribution reports to the investors can be used as partial evidence of the existence of a default or “credit event.” Representations that the borrower did not pay the servicer are not conclusive as to the existence of a default. Only the records of the creditor, who by virtue of its relationships with multiple co-obligors, can establish that payments due were paid to the creditor. Servicer records are relevant as to whether the servicer received payments, but not relevant as to whether the creditor received those payments directly or indirectly. The servicer and creditors’ records establish servicer advance payments, which if made, nullify the creditor default. The creditors’ records establish the amount of principal or interest due after deductions from receipt of third party payments (insurance, credit default swaps, guarantees, loss sharing etc.).

For more information call 954-495-9867 or 520-405-1688.

 

 

Modifications: Interest reduction, Principal reduction, Payment reduction, and Term increase

In the financial world we don’t measure just the amount of principal. For example if I increased your mortgage principal by $100,000 and gave you 100 years to pay without interest it would be nearly equivalent to zero principal too (especially factoring in inflation). A reduction in the interest rate has an effect on the overall amount of money due from the borrower if (and this is an important if) the borrower is given 40 years to pay AND they intend to live in the house for that period of time. To the borrower the reduction in interest rate and the extension of the period in which it is due lowers the monthly payment which is all that he or she normally cares about.

Nonetheless you are generally correct. And THAT is because the average time anyone lives in a house is 5-7 years, during which an interest reduction would not equate to much of a principal reduction even with inflation factored in. Unsophisticated borrowers get caught in exactly that trap when they do a modification where the monthly payments decline. But when they want to refinance or sell the home they find themselves in a new bind — having to come to the table with cash to sell their home because the mortgage is upside down.

So the question that must be answered is what are the intentions of the homeowner. The only heuristic guide (rule of thumb) that seems to hold true is that if the house has been in the family for generations, it is indeed likely that they will continue to own the property. In that event calculations of interest and inflation, present value etc. make a big difference. But for most people, the only thing that cures their position of being upside down (ignoring the fact that they probably don’t owe the full amount demanded anyway) is by a direct principal reduction.

THAT is the reason why I push so hard on getting credit for receipt of insurance and other loss sharing arrangements, including FDIC, servicer advances etc. Get credit for those and you have a principal CORRECTION (i.e., you get to the truth) instead of a principal REDUCTION, which presumes the old balance was actually due. It isn’t due and it is probable that there is nothing due on the debt, in addition to the fact that it is not secured by the property because the mortgage and note do NOT describe any actual transaction that took place between the parties to the note and the mortgage.

Damages Rising: Wrongful Foreclosure Costs Wells Fargo $3.2 Million

Damage awards for wrongful foreclosure are rising across the country. In New Mexico a judge issued a $3.2 million judgment (including $2.7 million in punitive damages) against Wells Fargo for foreclosing on a man’s home after his death even though he had an insurance policy through the bank that paid the remaining balance on his mortgage. The balance “owed” on the mortgage was $125,000. Despite the fact that the bank knew about the insurance (because it was purchased through the bank) Wells Fargo continued to pursue foreclosure, ignoring the claim for insurance. It is because of cases like this that people are asking “why would they do that?”

The answer is what I’ve been saying for years.  Where a loan is subject to claims of securitization, and the investment banks lied to insurers, investors, guarantors and other co-obligors, they most likely have been paid many times for the same loan and never gave credit to the investors. By not crediting the investors they created the illusion of a higher balance that was due on the loan. They also created the illusion of a default that probably never occurred. But by pursuing foreclosure and foreclosure sale, they compounded the illusion and avoided claims for refund and repayment received from third parties and created claims for recovery of servicer advances. In many foreclosures that I have  reviewed, payments received from the FDIC under loss-sharing were never taken into account. Thus the bank collects money repeatedly for a loss it never incurred.

This case is another example of why I insist on following the money. By following the money trail you will discover that the documents upon which the foreclosure relies referred to  fictitious transactions. The documents are worthless, but nevertheless accepted in court unless a proper objection is made based upon preserving issues for trial and appeal by proper pleading and discovery.

Lawyers should take note of this profit opportunity. Most homeowners are looking for attorneys to take cases on contingency. Typical contingency fee is 40%. If these lawyers were on a typical contingency fee arrangement, their payday would have been around $1.2 million.

I should add that for every one of these judgments that are reported, I hear about dozens of confidential settlements that are of similar nature, to wit: clear title on the house, damages and attorneys fees.

Wells Fargo Ordered to Pay $3.2 Million for “Shocking” Foreclosure

Who Has the Power to Execute a Satisfaction and Release of Mortgage?

 The answer to that question is that probably nobody has the right to execute a satisfaction of mortgage. That is why the mortgage deed needs to be nullified. In the typical situation the money was taken from investors and instead of using it to fund the REMIC trust, the broker-dealer used it as their own money and funded the origination or acquisition of loans that did not qualify under the terms proposed in the prospectus given to investors. Since the money came from investors either way (regardless of whether their money was put into the trust) the creditor is that group of investors. Instead, neither the investors or even the originator received the original note at the “closing” because neither one had any legal interest in the note. Thus neither one had any interest in the mortgage despite the fact that the nominee at closing was named as “lender.”

This is why so many cases get settled after the borrower aggressively seeks discovery.

The name of the lender on the note and the mortgage was often some other entity used as a bankruptcy remote vehicle for the broker-dealer, who for purposes of trading and insurance represented themselves to be the owner of the loans and mortgage bonds that purportedly derive their value from the loans. Neither representation was true. And the execution of fabricated, forged and unauthorized assignments or endorsements does not mean that there is any underlying business transaction with offer, acceptance and consideration. Hence, when a Court order is entered requiring that the parties claiming rights under the note and mortgage prove their claim by showing the money trail, the case is dropped or settled under seal of confidentiality.

The essential problem for enforcement of a note and mortgage in this scenario is that there are two deals, not one. In the first deal the investors agreed to lend money based upon a promise to pay from a trust that was never funded, has no assets and has no income. In the second deal the borrower promises to pay an entity that never loaned any money, which means that they were not the lender and should not have been put on the mortgage or note.

Since the originator is an agent of the broker-dealer who was not acting within the course and scope of their relationship with the investors, it cannot be said that the originator was a nominee for the investors. It isn’t legal either. TILA requires disclosure of all parties to the deal and all compensation. The two deals were never combined at either level. The investor/lenders were never made privy to the real terms of the mortgages that violated the terms of the prospectus and the borrower was not privy to the terms of repayment from the Trust to the investors and all the fees that went with the creation of multiple co-obligors where there had only been one in the borrower’s “closing.”.

The identity of the lender was intentionally obfuscated. The identity of the borrower was also intentionally obfuscated. Neither party would have completed the deal in most cases if they had actually known what was going on. The lender would have objected not only to the underwriting standards but also because their interest was not protected by a note and mortgage. The borrower  would have been alerted to the fact that huge fees were being taken along the false securitization trail. The purpose of TILA is to avoid that scenario, to wit: borrower should have a choice as to the parties with whom he does business. Those high feelings would have alerted the borrower to seek an alternative loan elsewhere with less interest and greater security of title —  or not do the deal at all because the loan should never have been underwritten or approved.

Arizona Appeals Court Reverses Direction: Dismissal of Borrower’s Claims Reversed

JOIN US TONIGHT AT 6PM Eastern time on The Neil Garfield Show. We will discuss this decision and other important developments affecting consumers, borrowers and banks.

Congratulations to Attorney Barbara J. Forde!!

HIGHLIGHTS: Steinberger v Hon. McVey/OneWest

Discharge of Debt — money that OneWest received from FDIC to pay off loss on loan discharges the debt. If it is true that the FDIC has already reimbursed OneWest for all or part of [the borrower's] default, OneWest may not be entitled to recover that amount from [the borrower}. This corroborates what we have been writing in this blog regarding third-party payments and the existence of co-obligors. To the extent that third party payments have been received by the creditor this court is saying that nobody can collect those same payments (on the same debt) from the borrower.

Unconscionability: Procedural and Substantive: Unfair surprise and fairness, respectively, are the main elements. This opinion raises the possibility of bringing claims that might have been barred by the TILA Statute of Limitations. Pleading requirements are strict. But if you read the decision you can tell that there is room for borrowers to oppose enforcement of contracts that produced sticker shock and other unfair surprises.

Quiet title: This Court concluded that you can’t quiet title based upon the weakness of someone else’s claim. You must allege your right to title and that the parties served have no claim.

Negligence Per Se: Opening a whole new area for litigation this Court concluded that negligence and negligence per se, were valid causes of action for damages and other relief in connection with the handling of modification and other requests.

Negligent Performance of an Undertaking:  This court concluded that the borrower has a cause of action is the lender or the lenders agents or representatives Lord her into defaulting on her loan with the prospect of a loan modification and then negligently administered her application for the modification, causing her to fall so far behind on her payments that it was no longer possible to reinstate her original loan. Borrower must allege that she never obtained a loan modification and that the bank’s conduct ultimately led to the foreclosure on her home.

Good Samaritan Doctrine:  Lender may be held liable under the Good Samaritan Doctrine when a lender or its agent or representative induces a borrower to default on his or her loan by promising a loan modification if he or she defaults. If the borrower in reliance on the promise to modify the loan subsequently defaults on the loan and the lender fails to process the loan modification or due to the lender or agent or representative’s negligence the borrower is not granted a loan modification and the lender subsequently forecloses on the borrower’s property. Note: this is in Arizona decision and is subject to review by the Arizona Supreme Court. It is not dispositive as to all actions in Arizona and can only be used as persuasive authority in other states or federal court.

 Cause of action to avoid a trustee’s sale: The Hogan decision was considered governing but as we pointed out when the decision was made, the Arizona Supreme Court went out of its way to say that  the borrower never alleged that the trustee lacked the authority to conduct a trustee sale and therefore its decision did not address this issue. This court points that out and upheld the borrowers cause of action to avoid a trustee sale based upon the claim that the trustee did not have the authority to conduct a sale of the property. The reasoning behind this decision may well apply in judicial states as well.

 This decision needs to be analyzed carefully. I have only just received it. In the coming days I will provide additional analysis.

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