BANKS EDGE CLOSER TO THE ABYSS: Florida Judge Forces Permanent Modification

GGKW (GARFIELD, GWALTNEY, KELLEY AND WHITE) provides Legal Services across the State of Florida. We also provide litigation support to attorneys in all 50 states. We concentrate our practice on mortgage related issues, litigation and modification (or settlement). We are available to represent homeowners, business owners, and homeowner associations seeking to preserve their interest in the property and seeking damages (monetary payment).  Neil F Garfield is a licensed Florida attorney who provides expert witness and consulting fees all over the country. No board certification is offered by the Florida Bar, so the firm may not claim expertise in mortgage litigation. Mr. Garfield’s status as an “expert” is only as a witness and not as an attorney.
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For the second time in as many weeks a trial judge has ordered the pretender lender to execute a permanent modification based upon the borrowers total compliance with the provisions of the trial modification.This time Wells Fargo (Wachovia) was given the terms of the modification, told to put it in writing and file it. If they don’t sanctions will apply just as they will be in the Florida Panhandle case we reported on last week.

Remember that before the trial modification begins the pretender lender is supposed to have done all the underwriting required to validate the loan, the value of the property, the income of the borrower etc. That is the responsibility of the lender under the Truth in Lending Act.

Of course we know that cases were instead picked at random with a cursory overview simply because there was no intention to ever give a permanent modification. Borrowers and their attorneys have known this for years. Government, always slow on the uptake, is starting to get restless as more and more Attorneys General are saying that the Banks are not complying with the intent or content of the agreement when the banks took TARP money.

The supreme irony of this case is that Wells Fargo didn’t want the TARP money and was convinced to take it and accept the terms of HAMP because if only the banks that really need it took the money it was argued that this would start a run on the banks named that had to take TARP. The other ironic factoid here is that the whole issue of ownership of the loans blew up in the face of the government officers around the country that thought TARP was a good idea — only to find out that the “toxic assets” (TARP – “Toxic Asset Relief Program”) were not defaulting mortgages.

  1. So instead of telling the banks they were liars and going after them the way Teddy Roosevelt did 100 years ago, they changed the definition of toxic assets to mean mortgage bonds.
  2. This they thought would take care of it since the mortgage bonds were the evidence of “ownership” of the  “underlying” home loans.
  3. Then the government found out that the mortgage bonds were not failing, they were merely the subject of a declaration from the Master Servicer (a necessary and indispensable party to all mortgage litigation, in my opinion) that the value of the bond had fallen ,thus triggering payment from insurers, counterparties on credit default swaps etc to pay up to 100 cents on the dollar for each of the bonds —
  4. which means the receivable account from the borrower had been either extinguished or reduced through third party payment.
  5. But by cheating the investors out of the insurance money (something the investors are taking care of right now in the courts), they thought they could keep saying the loans were in default and the mortgage bond had been devalued and thus the payment of insurance was legally valid.
  6. BUT the real truth is that the loans had never made into the asset pools that issued the mortgage bonds.
  7. So the TARP definitions were changed again to “whatever” and the money kept flowing to the banks while they were rolling in money from all sides — investors, insurers, CDS counterparts, sales of the note to multiple asset pools (REMICs) and then sales of the note to the Federal Reserve for 100 cents on the dollar.
  8. This leaves the loan receivable account in many cases in an overpaid status if one applies generally accepted accounting principles and allocates the Federal, insurance and CDS money to the bonds and the “underlying” loans.
  9. So the Banks took the position that since the money was not coming in to cover the loans (because the loans were not in the asset pool that issued the mortgage bond and therefore the mortgage bond was NO evidence of ownership of the loan) that therefore they could apply the money any way they wanted, and that is where the government left it, to the astonishment and dismay of the the rest of the world. that is when world economies went into a nose dive.

The whole purpose of the mega banks in in entering into trial modification was actually to create the impression that the mega banks were modifying loans. But to the rest of us, the trial modification was supposed to to be last hurdle before the disaster was finally over. Comply with the payment schedule, insurance, taxes, and everything else, and it automatically becomes your permanent modification.

Not so, according to Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Chase, Citi and their brothers in arms in the false scheme of securitization. According to them they could keep the money paid by the borrower to be approved for the trial modification, keep the money paid by the borrower to comply with the terms of the trial modification and then the banks could foreclose making up any excuse they wanted to deny the permanent modification. The sole straw upon which their theory rests is that they were only obligated to “consider” the modification; according to them they were NEVER required to make it such that the modification would become permanent unless the bank expressly said so, which in most cases it does not.

When you total it all up, the Banks received a minimum of $2.50 for each $1.00 loan “out there” regardless of who owns it. Under the terms of the promissory note signed by the borrower, that means the account is paid in full and then some. If the investor has not stepped up to file a competing claim against the borrower’s new claim for overpayment, then the entire overage should be paid to the borrower.

The Banks want to say, like they did to the government, that the trial modification is nothing despite the presence of an offer, acceptance and consideration. To my knowledge there are at least two judges in Florida who think that is a ridiculous argument and knowing how judges talk amongst themselves behind closed doors, I would expect more of these decisions. If the borrower applies for and is approved for trial modification and they comply with the trial provisions, a contract is formed.

The foreclosure defense attorney in Palm Beach County argued SIMPLE contract. And the Judge agreed. My thought is that if you are in a trial modification get ready to hire that attorney or some other one who gets it and can cover your geographical area. Once that last payment is made, and in most cases, the payment is continued long after the trial modification period is officially over, the Bank has no equitable or legal right to deny the permanent modification.

The only caveat here is whether the Judge was correct in stating the amount of principal due without hearing evidence on third party payments and ownership of the loan. WHY WOULD THE BANK WANT LESS MONEY IN FORECLOSURE RATHER THAN MORE MONEY IN A MODIFICATION? The answer is that out of the $2.50 they received for the loan, they would be required to refund $2.50 because the Bank was supposed to be an intermediary, not a principal in the transaction. So the balance quoted by the judge without evidence was quite probably wrong by a mile.

If there is any balance it is most likely a small fraction of the original principal due on the promissory note. And, as we have been saying for years, it is most likely NOT due to the party that is entering into the modification. This last point is troubling but “apparent authority” doctrines might cover the problem.

Every time a loan does NOT go into foreclosure, the Banks’ representation of defaults and the value of the loan (in order to trigger insurance and other third party payments)  come under question and the prospect of disaster for the Bank rises, to wit:  refunding trillions of dollars in insurance and CDS money as well as money received from co-obligors on the bond (the finished product after the note was moved through the manufacturing process of a false securitization scheme).

Every time a loan is found NOT to have actually been purchased by the asset pool (REMIC, Trust etc.) because there was no money in the asset pool and that the investors merely have an equitable right to claim the note and mortgage under constructive trust or resulting trust theories, the validity of the mortgage encumbrance fades to black. There is no such thing as an equitable mortgage lien or an equitable lien of any sort. And there is plenty of good sense and many law review articles as well as case decisions that explain why that is true.

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PRACTICE HINT FOR ATTORNEYS: Whether you are litigating or negotiating, send a preservation letter to every possible party or witness that might be involved. That way when you ask for production, they can’t say they destroyed or lost it without facing severe consequences. It might even stop the practice of the Banks trashing all documents periodically as has been disclosed in the whistle-blower affidavits from BOA and other banks. If you need assistance in creating a long form preservation letter we are available to provide litigation assistance on that and many other matters that might arise in foreclosure defense.

BOA Seeks to Seal Damaging Testimony from Urban Lending

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY!

WHY ARE THE BANKS FIGHTING TO GET AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE FROM EACH “FAILED” LOAN?

A drama is playing out in the state of Massachusetts. Bank of America is pretending to be the lender or the authorized servicer or both. But it outsourced the task of dealing with borrowers seeking modification. The company that was used is Urban Lending Solutions (ULS).  A deposition was taken from a knowledgeable source from within ULS.  The attorney  taking the deposition was merely looking for evidence of a script prepared by Bank of America that ULS employees were to follow. Not only was the script uncovered but considerable other evidence suggested institutional policies at Bank of America that were in direct conflict with the requirements of law, and in direct violation of the settlements with the Department of Justice and the banking regulators.

The transcript of the deposition was sealed at the request of Bank of America, which the borrower did not interpose any objection. Now there are a lot of people who want to see that deposition and who want to take the deposition of the same witness and other witnesses at ULS who might reveal the real intent of Bank of America. The question which is sought to be answered is why the mega banks are fighting so hard to take less money in a foreclosure sale then they would get in a modification or even a short sale. The policy is obvious. Borrowers are lured into a hole that gets deeper and deeper so that foreclosure seems inevitable and indefensible. Even after a successful trial modification the banks are turning down the permanent modification, as though they had the power to do so.

Now a number of attorneys are preparing motions to the trial court in Massachusetts to unseal the transcript of the ULS employee. Bank of America is opposing these efforts on the grounds of “confidentiality” which from my perspective makes absolutely no sense. Why would Bank of America share confidential information or trade secrets with a vendor whose only purpose was to interfere with the modification process? My opinion is that the only information that Bank of America wishes to keep secret is that the instructions they gave to ULS clearly show that Bank of America was not interested in anything other than achieving a foreclosure sale in as many cases as possible.

In nearly all cases the modification of the loan more than doubles the prospect of proceeds from the loan and in some cases approaches 100%. Thus the full-court press from the megabanks to go to foreclosure is a mystery that will be solved. My sources from inside the industry together with my own analysis indicates that the reason is very simple. The banks took in money from investors, insurers, counterparties in credit default swaps, the Federal Reserve, the Department of the Treasury and other parties based on the representation of the banks that (A) the banks owned the mortgage bonds and therefore on the loans and (B) there was a loss resulting from widespread defaults on mortgages. Under the terms of the various contracts within the false chain of securitization and the Master servicer had sole discretion as to whether or not the value of the mortgage bonds and the asset pools had declined and had sole discretion as to the amount of the loss caused by the defaults. Both representations were false — the Banks did not own the bonds or the loans and the loss was not even close to what was represented to insurers and other third parties.

As a general rule of thumb, the banks computed value of the collateral at around 25% and therefore received payment to compensate the banks for a 75% loss. They received the payment several times over and then sold the mortgage bonds to the Federal Reserve for 100% of the face value of the bonds. It can be fairly estimated that they received no less than 250% of the principal amount due on each of the loans contained within the asset pool that had issued each mortgage bond. While they had to create the appearance of objectivity by showing a number of the loans as performing, they intentionally overestimated the number of loans that were in default or were in the process of going into default.

Let us not forget that while nobody was looking the Federal Reserve has been “purchasing” the worthless mortgage bonds at the rate of $85 billion per month for a long time and doesn’t appear to have any intention of stopping that flow of money to banks that have already received more than 100% of the principal due on the notes. And lest you be confused, the money the banks received should have gone to the investors and should never have been kept by the banks. The purchases by the Federal Reserve at 100% of face value despite a market value of zero is merely a way for the Federal Reserve to keep the mega banks floating on an illusion.

Since the banks received 250% of the principal amount due on the loan, an actual recovery from the borrower of 100% (for example) on the loan would leave the banks with a liability to all of the third parties that paid the banks. The refund liability would obviously be 150% of the principal amount due on the loan and the banks would be required to turn over the hundred percent recovery from the borrower to the investors adding to their liability. THIS IS WHY I SAY CALL THEIR BLUFF AND OFFER THEM ALL THE MONEY DEMANDED ON CONDITION THAT THEY PROVE OWNERSHIP AND PROVE THE LOSS IS ACTUALLY THE LOSS OF THE BANK AND NOT OF THE INVESTORS.

But if the case goes through a foreclosure sale, the banks can take a comfortable position that the number of defaults and the depth of the loss was as great as they represented when they took payment from insurers and other third parties. The liability of 250% is completely eliminated. Thus while it might appear to be in the bank’s interest to take a 60% recovery from the borrower instead of a 25% recovery from a foreclosure sale, the liability that would be created each time alone was modified or settled would dwarf the apparent savings to the pretender lender or actual creditor.

The net result is that on a $100,000 loan, the investor takes an extra $35,000 loss over and above what would normally apply in a workout and the bank avoids $250,000 in liabilities to third parties who paid based upon false representations of losses.

The mere fact that they went to great lengths to seal the transcript indicates how vulnerable they feel.

PRACTICE MEMO TO FORECLOSURE DEFENSE LAWYERS

As a condition precedent I would suggest that in all cases where we feel the deposition transcript would be helpful I think it would create more credibility if you issued a subpoena duces tecum directed at Urban to produce the witness whose deposition was sealed in the existing case and to bring those records that were requested or demanded at that deposition. One of the questions that needs to be answered is whether the witness witness is still working for Urban, whether the witness has “disappeared”, and whether his testimony has changed — thus we would need the other deposition to test credibility and perhaps get exhibits that BANA either didn’t object to, which means they waived confidentiality. If they do not move to quash the subpoena then they might also be arguably waiving the confidentiality objection.
If they do object, you have two bites of the apple — if they move to quash they must state the grounds other than than it will damage their chances in litigation. The trial court would then hear the objections and of course each if the cases that could benefit from unsealing the deposition results in a hearing, then several judges would hear the same objection. The likelihood is that the objection would attempt to bootstrap the order sealing the deposition as reason enough to quash the subpoena. That in turn puts pressure on the Massachusetts judge to release the transcript.
The more Motions filed the better. So I would suggest that we reach out through media to get as many people as possible with separate motions saying that sealing the deposition is causing a disruption in due process. Since Urban reached out on behalf of BANA — an allegation that should be made in opposition test the motion to quash the subpoena in each case — exactly what confidential information needs to be protected? Has the Massachusetts court heard a motion in liming preventing the use of the deposition at trial? If not, then the objection is waived since the Plaintiff will clearly use the deposition at trial, if there is one.
The other issue is that BOA can’t simply allege confidentiality rather than strategy in litigation. They must state with particularity what could be possibly confidential. There is no attorney-client privilege, there is no attorney work product privilege.  At first Bank of America disclaimed any knowledge or relationship with ULS.  When it became obvious that the relationship existed and that ULS was using Bank of America letterhead to communicate with borrowers they finally admitted that the relationship existed and then went one step further by alleging confidentiality and trade secrets so that the contract and instructions between Bank of America and ULS would never see the light of day., For a company that BOA disclaimed any knowledge but who used BOA stationery they were clearly an agent of BANA. What exactly could Urban have other than information about modification and foreclosure? I would also notice or subpoena BANA to produce the person who signed the contract with Urban and to bring the contract with him or her. Who received instructions from BOA? Where are those instructions? Were they produced at the sealed deposition.
 If the Massachusetts court does not unseal the transcript, doesn’t this give BOA an opportunity for a do-over where they fabricate documents that are different from those produced in the sealed deposition?
What were the instructions to Urban? What was the goal of the relationship between BOA and URban? Where are the scripts now that we’re produced in the sealed deposition?
Were the instructions to Urban the same as the instructions to all vendors assisting in the foreclosure process? Why did BOA even need Urban if it had proof of payment, proof of loss,  proof of ownership of the loan? We want to know what scripts were used by Urban and whether the same scripts were distributed to other vendors whose behavior could be plausibly denied. Discovery is a process by which the party seeking it must only show that it might lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. THE POINT MUST BE MADE THAT THE DEFENSE FOR WHICH WE ARE LOOKING FOR SUPPORT AND CORROBORATION IS THAT THE DELIBERATE POLICY AND PRACTICE OF BOA WAS TO MOVE PEOPLE INTO DEFAULT BY TELLING THEM TO STOP MAKING PAYMENTS. WE WANT TO SHOW THAT THEIR GOAL WAS FORECLOSURE NOT MODIFICATION CONTRARY TO THE REQUIREMENTS UNDER HAMP AND HARP AND THAT RATHER THAN PROCESS MODIFICATION OR SETTLEMENTS THE POLICY WAS TO DERAIL AS MANY AS POSSIBLE TO GET THE FORECLOSURE EVEN IF IT MEANT THAT THE INVESTORS WOULD GET LESS MONEY? Why?
The instruction was to use the promise or carrot of modification to trick the homeowner into (a) acknowledging BOA as the right party (b) stop making payments causing an apparent default and causing an escrow shortage (c) thus assuring the foreclosure sale despite the fact that BOA never acquired and (d) thus assuring that claims against them from investors (see dozens of law suits against BOA) and from insurers and counter parties on credit default swaps and payments from co-obligors based on the “default” that BOA fabricated — payments that involved more than the loan itself in multiples of the supposed loan balance.

This is an important battle. Let’s win it. There is strength in numbers. We might find the scripts were prepared by someone who used scripts from other banks and that the banks were in agreement that despite the obligations under HAMP and HARP and despite their ,rinses in the AG and OCC settlement, their goal is to foreclose at all costs because if the general pattern of conduct is to settle these loans and make them “performing” loans again it is highly probable that for each dollar of principal that gets taken of the table there is a liability or claim for $10. This would establish that the requirements of HAMP and HARP has resulted in negotiating with the fox while the fox is in the henhouse getting fat.

BOA, Urban Lending Sued in Qui Tam by WHistleblower: They never intended to modify the loans

Just a quick note as follow up to my article this morning. Read this qui tam complaint and see how it corroborates the facts and theories presented on this blog. Note the following quote: ” these mechanisms of fraud were and are interconnected and directly observed by Relator Mackler, who worked with various BOA executives while at Urban Lending Solutions beginning in April 2010. BOA outsources various HAMP obligations to Urban. Upon witnessing the unlawful, fraudulent practices listed above, among others, Mackler brought his concerns to the highest levels of Urban and to executives at Bank of America. Eventually, his objections to these practices led to his termination on March 17, 2011.”

US ATTORNEY GOT THIS DISMISSED BUT ANOTHER ONE IS PENDING IN MASSACHUSETTS UNDER SEAL.

Read, plagiarize This, and use it: http://www.documentcloud.org/documents/324428-greg-mackler-complaint.html

http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2012/03/08/440628/whistleblower-claims-bofa-blocked-help/?mobile=nc

Truth Coming Home to Roost: JPM Knew the Loans Were Bad

In a statement shortly after he sued JPMorgan Chase, Mr. Schneiderman [Attorney general, New York state] said the lawsuit was a template “for future actions against issuers of residential mortgage-backed securities that defrauded investors and cost millions of Americans their homes.”

CHECK OUT OUR EXTENDED DECEMBER SPECIAL!

What’s the Next Step? Consult with Neil Garfield

For assistance with presenting a case for wrongful foreclosure or to challenge whoever is taking your money every month, please call 520-405-1688, customer service, who will put you in touch with an attorney in the states of Florida, Tennessee, Georgia, California, Ohio, and Nevada. (NOTE: Chapter 11 may be easier than you think).

A PRIMER ON COOKING THE BOOKS

Editor’s Comment and Analysis: It’s been a long pull to get the real information about the misbehavior of the mega banks and their officers. But Schneiderman, Attorney general of the State of New York, is drilling down to where this really needs to go. And others, tired of receiving hollow assurances from the mega banks are suing — with specific knowledge and proof that is largely unavailable to borrowers — a good reason to watch these suits carefully.

Both internal emails and interviews have revealed that they repeatedly were warned by outside analysts of the perils of the mortgage lending process. The officers of JPM chose to change the reports to make them look more appealing to investors who gave up the pension money of their pensioners in exchange for what turns out to be bogus mortgage bonds issued by a non-existent or unfunded entity that never touched a dime of the investors’ money and never received ownership or backing from real loans with real security instruments (mortgages and deeds of trust).

A lawsuit filed by Dexia, a Belgian-French bank is being closely watched with justified trepidation as the onion gets pealed away. The fact that the officers of JPM and other mega banks were getting reports from outside analysts and took the trouble to change the reports and change the make-up of the bogus mortgage bonds leads inevitably to a single conclusion — the acts were intentional, they were not reckless mistakes, they weren’t gambling. They were committing fraud and stealing the pension money of investors and getting ready to become the largest landowners in the country through illegal, fraudulent, wrongful foreclosure actions that should have been fixed when TARP was first proposed.

The Dexia lawsuit focuses on JPM, WAMU and Bear Stearns, acquired by JPM with government help. The failure to provide bailout relief to homeowners at the same time sent the economy into a downward spiral. Had the Federal reserve and US Treasury department even ordered a spot check as to what was really happening, the “difficult” decisions in 2008 would have been averted completely.

Receivership and breakdown of the large banks would have produced a far more beneficial result to the financial system, and is still, in my opinion, inevitable. Ireland is doing it with their major bank as announced yesterday and other countries have done the same thing. Instead of the chaos and trouble that the banks have policy makers afraid of creating, those countries are coming out of the recession with much stronger numbers and a great deal more confidence in the marketplace.

The practice note here is that lawyers should look at the blatant lies the banks told to regulators, law enforcement and even each other. The question is obvious — if the banks were willing to lie to the big boys, what makes you think that ANYTHING at ground level for borrowers was anything but lies?  They went to their biggest customers and lied in their faces. They certainly did the same in creating the illusion of a real estate closing at ground level.

Lawyers should question everything and believe nothing. Normal presumptions and assumptions do not apply. Keep your eye on the money, who paid whom, and when and getting the proof of payment and proof of loss. You will find that no money exchanged hands except when the investors put up money for the bonds that were supposed to be mortgage backed, and the money that was sent down the pipe via wire transfer to the closing agent under circumstances where the “lender” was not even permitted to touch the money, much less use it in their own name for funding.

The diversion of money away from the REMICs and the diversion of title away from the REMICs leaves each DOCUMENTED loan as non-existent, with the note evidence of a transaction in which no value exchanged hands, and the mortgage securing the obligations of the invalid note.

The diversion of the documents away from the flow of money leaves the borrower and lenders with a real loan that, except for the wire transfer receipts, that was undocumented and therefore not secured. Yet nearly all borrowers would grant the mortgage if fair market value and fair terms were used. Millions of foreclosures would have been thwarted by settlements, modifications and agreements had the investors been directly involved.

Instead the subservicers rejected hundreds of thousands of perfectly good proposals for modification that would have saved the home, mitigated the damages to investors, and left the bank liable to investors for the rest of the money they took that never made it into the money chain and never made it into the REMIC.

Add to this mixture the rigging of LIBOR and EuroBOR, the receipt of trillions in mitigating payments kept by the banks that should have been paid and credited to the investors, and it is easy to see, conceptually, how the amount demanded in nearly all foreclosure cases is wrong.

Discovery requests should include, in addition to third party insurance and CDS payments, the method used to compute new interest rates and whether they were using LIBOR ( most of them did) and what adjustments they have made resulting from the revelation that LIBOR was rigged — especially since it was the same mega banks that were rigging the baseline rate of interbank lending.

Once you are in the door, THEN you can do not only your own computations on resetting payments, but you can demand to see all the transactions so that the applied interest rate was used against the alleged principal. At that point you will know if a loan receivable account even exists and if so, who owns it — and a fair guess is that it is not now nor was it ever any of the parties who have “successfully” completed foreclosure, thus creating a corruption of title in the marketplace for real estate that has never happened before.

E-Mails Imply JPMorgan Knew Some Mortgage Deals Were Bad

By JESSICA SILVER-GREENBERG

When an outside analysis uncovered serious flaws with thousands of home loans, JPMorgan Chase executives found an easy fix.

Rather than disclosing the full extent of problems like fraudulent home appraisals and overextended borrowers, the bank adjusted the critical reviews, according to documents filed early Tuesday in federal court in Manhattan. As a result, the mortgages, which JPMorgan bundled into complex securities, appeared healthier, making the deals more appealing to investors.

The trove of internal e-mails and employee interviews, filed as part of a lawsuit by one of the investors in the securities, offers a fresh glimpse into Wall Street’s mortgage machine, which churned out billions of dollars of securities that later imploded. The documents reveal that JPMorgan, as well as two firms the bank acquired during the credit crisis, Washington Mutual and Bear Stearns, flouted quality controls and ignored problems, sometimes hiding them entirely, in a quest for profit.

The lawsuit, which was filed by Dexia, a Belgian-French bank, is being closely watched on Wall Street. After suffering significant losses, Dexia sued JPMorgan and its affiliates in 2012, claiming it had been duped into buying $1.6 billion of troubled mortgage-backed securities. The latest documents could provide a window into a $200 billion case that looms over the entire industry. In that lawsuit, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, has accused 17 banks of selling dubious mortgage securities to the two housing giants. At least 20 of the securities are also highlighted in the Dexia case, according to an analysis of court records.

In court filings, JPMorgan has strongly denied wrongdoing and is contesting both cases in federal court. The bank declined to comment.

Dexia’s lawsuit is part of a broad assault on Wall Street for its role in the 2008 financial crisis, as prosecutors, regulators and private investors take aim at mortgage-related securities. New York’s attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman, sued JPMorgan last year over investments created by Bear Stearns between 2005 and 2007.

Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan’s chief executive, has criticized prosecutors for attacking JPMorgan because of what Bear Stearns did. Speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations in October, Mr. Dimon said the bank did the federal government “a favor” by rescuing the flailing firm in 2008.

The legal onslaught has been costly. In November, JPMorgan, the nation’s largest bank, agreed to pay $296.9 million to settle claims by the Securities and Exchange Commission that Bear Stearns had misled mortgage investors by hiding some delinquent loans. JPMorgan did not admit or deny wrongdoing.

“The true price tag for the ongoing costs of the litigation is terrifying,” said Christopher Whalen, a senior managing director at Tangent Capital Partners.

The Dexia lawsuit centers on complex securities created by JPMorgan, Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual during the housing boom. As profits soared, the Wall Street firms scrambled to pump out more investments, even as questions emerged about their quality.

With a seemingly insatiable appetite, JPMorgan scooped up mortgages from lenders with troubled records, according to the court documents. In an internal “due diligence scorecard,” JPMorgan ranked large mortgage originators, assigning Washington Mutual and American Home Mortgage the lowest grade of “poor” for their documentation, the court filings show.

The loans were quickly sold to investors. Describing the investment assembly line, an executive at Bear Stearns told employees “we are a moving company not a storage company,” according to the court documents.

As they raced to produce mortgage-backed securities, Washington Mutual and Bear Stearns also scaled back their quality controls, the documents indicate.

In an initiative called Project Scarlett, Washington Mutual slashed its due diligence staff by 25 percent as part of an effort to bolster profit. Such steps “tore the heart out” of quality controls, according to a November 2007 e-mail from a Washington Mutual executive. Executives who pushed back endured “harassment” when they tried to “keep our discipline and controls in place,” the e-mail said.

Even when flaws were flagged, JPMorgan and the other firms sometimes overlooked the warnings.

JPMorgan routinely hired Clayton Holdings and other third-party firms to examine home loans before they were packed into investments. Combing through the mortgages, the firms searched for problems like borrowers who had vastly overstated their incomes or appraisals that inflated property values.

According to the court documents, an analysis for JPMorgan in September 2006 found that “nearly half of the sample pool” – or 214 loans – were “defective,” meaning they did not meet the underwriting standards. The borrowers’ incomes, the firms found, were dangerously low relative to the size of their mortgages. Another troubling report in 2006 discovered that thousands of borrowers had already fallen behind on their payments.

But JPMorgan at times dismissed the critical assessments or altered them, the documents show. Certain JPMorgan employees, including the bankers who assembled the mortgages and the due diligence managers, had the power to ignore or veto bad reviews.

In some instances, JPMorgan executives reduced the number of loans considered delinquent, the documents show. In others, the executives altered the assessments so that a smaller number of loans were considered “defective.”

In a 2007 e-mail, titled “Banking overrides,” a JPMorgan due diligence manager asks a banker: “How do you want to handle these loans?” At times, they whitewashed the findings, the documents indicate. In 2006, for example, a review of mortgages found that at least 1,154 loans were more than 30 days delinquent. The offering documents sent to investors showed only 25 loans as delinquent.

A person familiar with the bank’s portfolios said JPMorgan had reviewed the loans separately and determined that the number of delinquent loans was far less than the outside analysis had found.

At Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual, employees also had the power to sanitize bad assessments. Employees at Bear Stearns were told that they were responsible for “purging all of the older reports” that showed flaws, “leaving only the final reports,” according to the court documents.

Such actions were designed to bolster profit. In a deposition, a Washington Mutual employee said revealing loan defects would undermine the lucrative business, and that the bank would suffer “a couple-point hit in price.”

Ratings agencies also did not necessarily get a complete picture of the investments, according to the court filings. An assessment of the loans in one security revealed that 24 percent of the sample was “materially defective,” the filings show. After exercising override power, a JPMorgan employee sent a report in May 2006 to a ratings agency that showed only 5.3 percent of the mortgages were defective.

Such investments eventually collapsed, spreading losses across the financial system.

Dexia, which has been bailed out twice since the financial crisis, lost $774 million on mortgage-backed securities, according to court records.

Mr. Schneiderman, the New York attorney general, said that overall losses from flawed mortgage-backed securities from 2005 and 2007 were $22.5 billion.

In a statement shortly after he sued JPMorgan Chase, Mr. Schneiderman said the lawsuit was a template “for future actions against issuers of residential mortgage-backed securities that defrauded investors and cost millions of Americans their homes.”

Deny and Discover — Where the Rubber Meets the Road

CHECK OUT OUR DECEMBER SPECIAL!

What’s the Next Step? Consult with Neil Garfield

For assistance with presenting a case for wrongful foreclosure, please call 520-405-1688, customer service, who will put you in touch with an attorney in the states of Florida, California, Ohio, and Nevada. (NOTE: Chapter 11 may be easier than you think).

Editor’s Analysis: The banks are broke and this rule properly applied will reveal exactly how badly they fall short of capital requirements. It can be found at Volume 77, No. 169 of the Federal Register dated, Thursday, August 30, 2012 2012-16759 Capital Risk Disclosure Requirements Under Dodd Frank.

Admittedly this is not for the feint of heart or those with limited literacy in economics, accounting and finance; but if you find yourself in the position of not understanding, then go to any economist or banker or finance specialist or accountant  and they will explain it to you.

Lewtan which produces ABSnet is offering a service to banks that will give the banks and plausible deniability when the figures come up all rosy for the banks. Lewtan should be careful in view of the action being taken against the ratings companies, which is the start of an assault on the citadel of evil intent on Wall Street.

The fundamental aspect of these new rules are that the bank must report on the degree of risk it has taken on in any activity or holding. They must also  show how they arrived at that assessment and under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) you might be able to get copies of their filing whether they do it themselves (doubtful) or hire someone like Lewtan which is obviously going to do the bidding of its paying clients.

The main problem for the banks is that they are holding overvalued assets and some non-existent assets on their balance sheet. A review to assess risk if properly conducted, will definitely turn up both kinds of assets reported on the balance sheet of the banks, which in turn will reduce their reported capital reserves, which in turn will result in changing the ratio between capital and risk.

This might sound like gumbo to you. But here is the bottom line: the banks were using investor money. We all know that. In baby language, the question is if they were using someone else’s money how did the banks lose any money?

They did receive the money from investors like pension funds, and other managed funds for retirement or contingencies. But they diverted the money and the documents to make it appear that the bank owned the assets that were intended to be purchased for the REMIC trusts. The Banks then purchased and claimed to be an insured or a party who had sustained a loss when in fact the loss was incurred by the investors and the mortgage bonds and loans were owned collectively by the investors.

By doing that the insurance proceeds were paid to the banks creating an instant liability to the investors to whom they owed a common law and contractual duty to provide an accounting and distribution based upon the insurance recovery. At no time did the banks ever have a risk of loss nor an insurable interest in their own name. And at not time were they bound by the REMIC documents because they ignored the REMICs and conducted transactions through an entirely different superstructure.

As agents of the investors they should have followed the REMIC documents and purchased the insurance and CDS protection for the benefit of the investors. But they didn’t do that. They kept the money for the bank who never had any proof of loss, proof of payment and was a mere intermediary claiming the rights of the principal. The same thing happened with Credit Default Swaps and Federal bailouts.

That is why the definition of toxic assets changed over a weekend when TARP was started. It was thought that the mortgages had gone bad for the banks.

Then they realized that the mortgages weren’t going bad to the extent reported and that the bank was suffering no loss because they were using investor money to create the funding of loans and the funding of proprietary trading in which they masked the theft of trillions from investors.

So the government quietly changed the definition of toxic assets to mortgage bonds — but that ran into the same problem, to wit: the mortgage bonds were underwritten by the banks but purchased by the investors (pension funds etc.).

Now the rubber meets the road. The claim that somehow the banks got stuck with mortgage bonds is patently absurd. If they have mortgage bonds it is not because they bought them, it is because they created them but were unable to sell them because the market collapsed and the PONZI scheme fails whenever the suckers stop buying.

The actual proceeds from theft from the investors and the borrowers is parked off shore around the world. The Banks having been feeding the money back in very slowly because they want to create the appearance of an increasingly profitable bank, when in fact, their revenues sand earnings are slipping away quickly — except for the bolstering they get from repatriating stolen money from investors and borrowers and calling them “proprietary trades.”

Nobody on Wall Street is making that kind of money on trades, proprietary or otherwise, but the banks are claiming ever increasing profits, raising their stock price, defrauding their stockholders. So against each overvalued and non-existent asset claimed by the mega banks on their balance sheet is a liability of far exceeding the assets or even the combined assets of the banks. Treasury knows, this, the Fed knows this and central bankers around the world know it. But they have been drinking the Kool-Aid believing that if they call out the mega banks on this fake accounting, the entire financial system will collapse.

So yes there is a consensus between those who pull the levers of power that they will allow the banks to pretend to have assets, that their liabilities are fairly low, and that the risks associated with their business activities, assets and liabilities are minimal even while knowing the converse is true. The system’s foundation is a loose amalgamation of lies that will eventually collapse anyway but everyone likes to kick the can down the road.

You are getting in this article a sneak peek into why the banks all rushed to foreclose rather than modify or settle on better terms. What is important from the practice point of view is that (1) the “Consideration” mandated by HAMP is not happening and you can prove it with the right allegations and discovery and (2) the reports tendered to OCC and the Fed under this rule will reveal that the issue of proof of loss, risk of loss, proof of payment and ownership is completely muddled — unless you follow the money trail (see yesterday’s article). You can subpoena the reports given by the banks from both the bank itself or the agency. My opinion is that you fill find a treasure trove of information very damaging to the banks and the Treasury Department.

There will be caveats in the notes that express the risk of inaccuracy and which reveal the possibility that the banks neither own nor control the mortgages except as agents for the investors, that the liability to the investors is equal to the money received from insurance, CDS, and bailouts, and that the borrower’s loan payable balance was corresponding reduced as to the investor and increased to entities that are not or cannot press any claims against the borrowers. Educate yourself and persist — the tide is turning.

Excerpt from attached section of Federal Register:

The bank’s primary federal supervisor may rescind its approval, in whole or in part, of the use of any internal model and determine an appropriate regulatory capital requirement for the covered positions to which the model would apply, if it determines that the model no longer

complies with the market risk capital rule or fails to reflect accurately the risks of the bank’s covered positions. For example, if adverse market events or other developments reveal that a material assumption in an approved model is flawed, the bank’s primary federal supervisor may require the bank to revise its model assumptions and resubmit the model specifications for review. In the final rule, the agencies made minor modifications to this provision in section 3(c)(3) to improve clarity and correct a cross-reference.

Financial markets evolve rapidly, and internal models that were state-of-the- art at the time they were approved for use in risk-based capital calculations can become less effective as the risks of covered positions evolve and as the industry develops more sophisticated modeling techniques that better capture material risks. Therefore, under the final rule, as under the January 2011 proposal, a bank must review its internal models periodically, but no less frequently than annually, in light of developments in financial markets and modeling technologies, and to enhance those models as appropriate to ensure that they continue to meet the agencies’ standards for model approval and employ risk measurement methodologies that are, in the bank’s judgment, most appropriate for the bank’s covered positions. It is essential that a bank continually review, and as appropriate, make adjustments to its models to help ensure that its market risk capital requirement reflects the risk of the bank’s covered positions. A bank’s primary federal supervisor will closely review the bank’s model review practices as a matter of safety and soundness. The agencies are adopting these requirements in the final rule.

Risks Reflected in Models. The final rule requires a bank to incorporate its internal models into its risk management process and integrate the internal models used for calculating its VaR-based measure into its daily risk management process. The level of sophistication of a bank’s models must be commensurate with the complexity and amount of its covered positions.

Shiller: Is Housing Recovery Real?

World renowned economist Robert Shiller, in a candid interview with Drew Sandholm of CNBC, gives a realistic perspective on the housing market. Calling the housing bubble a “once in a lifetime thing,” Shiller says that the outlook is uncertain. The “recovery” even if housing increases by 3% per annum, would in reality be flat, especially after the superstorm that hit the Northeast.

The chilling comment from the economist who showed us graphically how the housing bubble of the mortgage meltdown was so out of whack with history, is that the true recovery could take as long as 50 years. This unthinkable consequence is not so far off if you look at the factors that led up to the bubble and the enormous surge in home prices while “value” of housing was flat or even decreasing. The surge during a 4-5 year period blasted through any charts on the subject, most notably the Case-Shiller Index which removes inflation from the computation.

The long and short of it is that we have years, perhaps decades to recover from the shock the economy received from the Wall Street players who flooded the housing market with money causing a blow out in prices as underwriting standards were completely ignored in favor of “getting the deal done.”

We are left with treating each tragic case of foreclosure on a case by case basis which most of the people cannot afford to do. Having drained their savings and retirement in the hopes of keeping their homes they are without funds to challenge the banks who have all the money the investors gave them and now have all the money from proceeds of sales of foreclosure homes.

At some point someone with authority must demand from the banks an accounting for what happened. How is it possible for the banks to collect federal bailouts, insurance and proceeds from credit default swaps when they were using investor money?

If the loss falls to the investor because of foreclosure and market conditions, why didn’t they get the money from bailouts, insurance and CDS? And why  should we not treat the money the banks got as money received by agents of the investors reducing the obligation of homeowners?

Why are we quibbling about “principal reduction” when the principal has already been reduced by payment? Why did the banks divert the paperwork away from the investors and put “nominees” or strawmen on the notes, mortgages and deeds of trust?

The ugly truth is that Wall Street was playing with deposits from investors and calling it proprietary trades. Heads we win, tails you lose. If we allow that we have condoned theft.

And THAT is why I think the banks can be beaten in court. If you trace the money first and demand to see the money trail from beginning to end from the Master Servicer, Trustee and foreclosing agent the true nature of these transactions will emerge. And when all is said and one, if we don’t challenge this despicable scheme, the banks, having cornered the market on “money” (with over 10 times the amount of government authorized money) they now are seeking to corner the real estate market and become the world’s largest landowner.

Banks are allowed to exist to facilitate commerce, not capture it. They should be regulated like utilities so that when they go off the reservation with obtuse machinations of financial products, they are quickly reined in. That regulation can only come from winning in court since the regulatory agencies, while recognizing the problem are too timid to seek the appropriate relief.

shiller-housing-recovery-could-50-125741773.html

CFPB Safe Harbor Rule Would Allow Homeowners to Fight Bad Mortgages

Editor’s Comment: The practice of disregarding normal loan underwriting standards creates a claim that homeowners were tricked into loans that they could never repay. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, built by Elizabeth Warren under Obama’s direction is about to pass a rule that addresses that very issue. The new Rule would allow homeowners contesting foreclosure to introduce evidence challenging whether the “lender” correctly determined a borrower’s ability to repay the loan.

The details of the test for the “safe harbor” provision that is being contested are not yet known. The objective is to separate those who are using general knowledge of bad practices in the industry from those who were actually hurt by those practices. It would provide the presiding judge with a simple, clear test to determine whether the evidence submitted (not merely allegations — so the burden is still on the homeowner) are sufficient to determine that the “lender” wrote a loan that it knew or should have known could not be repaid.

The game being indirectly addressed here is that the participants in the fake securitization scheme intentionally wrote bad loans and then were successful at entering into contracts that paid insurance, credit default swap and federal bailout proceeds to the participants in the scheme even though they neither made the loan nor did the forecloser actually buy the loan (no money exchanged hands).

Those who do not meet the test would have “frivolous” claims dismissed summarily by the Judge. But they would have other grounds to sue the “lender” or the party making false claims of default and foreclosure. Those who do meet the test, would defeat the foreclosure leaving the loan in a state of limbo.

The net legal effect of the rule could be that the mortgage is void and the note is no longer considered evidence of the entire transaction — because the risk of loss on the homeowner shifts to the lender, at least in part. This would clear the path for principal reduction and new loans that would correct the corruption of title in the county title records.

The rule is coming at the behest of the Federal Reserve, which has is own problems on how to account for the trillions they have advanced for “bad” mortgages or worthless bogus mortgage bonds.

The question remains whether the purchase of these bonds conveys some right of action to collect money that the investors advanced, and who would receive that money. It also leaves open the question of whether a mortgage bond purportedly owned by the Federal reserve or even sold by the the Federal Reserve changes the players with standing to bring lawsuits or other foreclosure proceedings.

This rule, when it is finally written and passed, won’t solve all the problems but it could have a cascading effect of restoring at least some homeowners to at least a better financial condition than the one in which they find themselves.

The issue that would be interesting to see litigated is whether the homeowners who meet the test now have a claim to recover part or all of the money they paid on the mortgage thus far or if they are given an additional credit for the overage they paid — another way of reducing principal.

The bottom line is that there is recognition at all levels of government agencies —Federal and State — that there are problems with the origination of the loans and not just with the robo-signed assignments, allonges endorsements and fake powers of attorney. This recognition is going to be felt throughout the regulatory and judicial system and will redirect the attention of Judges to the reality that Wall Street banks wanted bad loans so they could make millions on each bad loan through multiple sales of the same loans using insurance, credit default swaps, TARP and other schemes to cover it all up.

http://www.housingwire.com by John Prior

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray told a House committee Thursday that mortgage lenders would still not be safe if the bureau elects to grant a safe harbor provision to the upcoming Qualified Mortgage rule.

“The safe harbor versus rebuttable presumption is a mirage,” Cordray said. “Even safe harbor isn’t safe. You can always be sued for whether you meet the criteria or not to get into the safe harbor. It’s a bit of a marketing concept there. The more important point is are we drawing bright lines? If someone were to say to me safe harbor or anything else, I would go with a safe harbor. But I don’t think safe harbor is truly safe. And I think it oversimplifies the issue.”

Rep. Michael Grimm, R-N.Y. then right away pressed Cordray on which he would choose: a safe harbor or rebuttable presumption. The director was forced to remind him the rule was still under development and would be finalized in January.

“I have not taken a position. I have discussed the issue,” Cordray said.

Mortgage industry lobbyists have been pressing the bureau since it overtook QM rulemaking responsibility from the Federal Reserve last year to install “clear, bright lines” and a legal safe harbor that protects lenders from future homeowner suits during foreclosure.

A rebuttable presumption provision allows homeowners to introduce evidence in court challenging whether the lender correctly determined a borrower’s ability to repay the loan before it was written. But a safe harbor allows a simple test for a judge to find if the mortgage met the QM rule, and frivolous suits could be dismissed early.

The Mortgage Bankers Association even showed the CFPB that attorney fees go up to an average $84,000 for a summary judgment from $26,000 if it’s dismissed. The risk of this increased cost would be passed on to borrowers, they claim.

Some consumer advocacy groups previously said such suits are rare, and a safe harbor could clear lenders from risks down the road rule makers cannot anticipate now.

Cordray repeatedly said in the hearing Thursday that his goal on QM and upcoming rules for the mortgage market is to protect consumers but not cut off access to credit. Forcing courts to define areas left gray by regulators is not something he would permit.

“As a former attorney general in Ohio, gray areas of the law are not appreciated,” Cordray said. “They’re difficult for people trying to comply. If we write rules that are murky, they’ll end up getting resolved in courts and it will take years and be very expensive. We are making real efforts to draw very bright lines.”

jprior@housingwire.com

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