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It appears that the statute of limitations might be running out this year on any claim against the officers of the banks that created the fraudulent securitization process. Eric Holder, outgoing Attorney general, made an unusual comment a few months back where he said that private suits should be brought against such officers. The obvious question is why didn’t he bring further action against these individuals and the only possible answer I can think of is that it was because of an agreement not to prosecute while these officers and their banks “cooperated” in resolving the mortgage crisis and the downturn of the US economy.
People keep asking me what the essential elements of the fraud were and how homeowners can use it. That question involves a degree of complexity that is not easily addressed here but I will try to do so in a few articles.
The first point of reference is that the investment banks sold mortgage backed securities to investors under numerous false premises. The broker dealers sold shares or interests in REMIC Trusts that existed only on paper and were registered nowhere. This opened up the possibility for the unthinkable: an IPO (initial public offering) of securities of an “entity” that would not complain if they never received the proceeds of the sale. And in fact, as I have been advised by accountants and other people who were privy to the inner workings of the Securitization fail (See Adam Levitin) the money from the offering was never turned over to the Trustee of the “Trust” which only existed on paper by virtue of words written by the broker dealers themselves. They created a non existent entity that had no business and sold securities issued by that entity without turning over the proceeds of sale to the entity whose securities had been sold. It was the perfect plan.
Normally if a broker dealer sold securities in an IPO the management and shareholders would have been screaming “fraud” as soon as they learned their “company” was not receiving the proceeds of sale. Here in the case of REMIC Trusts, there was no management because the Trustee had no duties and was prohibited from pretending that it did have any duties. And here in the case of REMIC Trusts, there were no shareholders to complain because they were contractually bound (they thought) to not interfere with or even ask questions about the workings of the Trust. And of course when Clinton signed the law back in 1998 these securities were deregulated and redefined as private contracts and NOT securities, so the SEC couldn’t get involved either.
It was the perfect hoax. brokers and dealers got to sell these “non-securities” and keep the proceeds themselves and even register ownership of interests in the Trust in the name of the same broker dealer who sold it to pension funds and other investors. Back in 2007-2008 the banks were claiming that there were no trusts involved because they knew that was true. But then they got more brazen, especially when they realized that this was an admission of fraud and theft from investors.
Now we have hundreds of thousands of foreclosures in which a REMIC Trust is named as the foreclosing party when it never operated even for a second. It never had any money, it never received any income and it never had any expenses. So it stands to reason that none of the loans claimed to be owned by the Trusts could ever have been purchased by entities that had no assets, no money, no management, and no operations. We have made a big deal about the cutoff date for entry of a particular loan into the loan pool owned by the trust. But the real facts are that there was no loan pool except on paper in self-serving fabricated documents created by the broker dealers.
Investors thought they were giving money to fund a Trust. The Trust was never funded. So the money from investors was used in any way the broker dealer wanted. The investors thought they were getting an ownership interest in a valid note and mortgage. They never got that because their “Trust” did not acquire the loans. But their money was used, in part, to fund loans that were put on a fast track automated underwriting platform so nobody in the position of underwriter could be disciplined or jailed for writing loans that were too rigged to succeed. Then the broker dealers, knowing that the mortgage bonds were worthless bet that the value of the bonds would decrease, which of course was a foregone conclusion. And the bonds and the underlying loans were insured in the name of the broker dealer so the investors are left standing out in the wind with nothing to show for their investment — an interest in a worthless unfunded trust, and no direct claim for the repayment of loans that were funded with their money.
The reason why the foreclosing parties need a foreclosure sale is to create the appearance that the original loan was a valid loan contract (it wasn’t because no consideration actually flowed from the “lender” to the “borrower” and because the loan was table funded, which as a pattern is described in Reg Z as “predatory per se”). By getting foreclosures in the name of the Trust they have a Judge’s stamp of approval that the Trust was either the lender or the successor to the lender and that makes it difficult for anyone to say otherwise. And THAT is why TILA was passed with the rescission option.
So through a series of conduits and sham entities, the Wall Street investment banks lied to the investors and lied to the borrowers about who was in the deal and who was making money off the deal and how much. They lied to the investors, lied to the public, lied to regulatory agencies and lied to borrowers about the quality of the loan products they were selling which could not succeed and in which the broker dealers had a direct interest in making sure that the loans did not succeed. That was the whole reason why the Truth In Lending Act and Reg Z came into existence back in the 1960’s. Holder’s comments are a clue to what private lawyers should do and how much money there is in these cases against the leaders of the those investment banks. Both borrowers and lawyers should be taking a close look at how they get even for the fraud perpetrated upon the American consumer and the American taxpayer.
It is obvious that someone had to be making a lot of money in order to spend hundreds of millions of dollars advertising and promoting 2% loans. There is no profit there unless someone is stealing the money and tricking borrowers into signing loan papers that instantly clouded their title and created two potential liabilities — one to the payee on the note who never had any economic interest in the deal and one to the investors whose money was used to fund the loan. Most investors still don’t realize what happened to their money and many are still getting payments as though the Trust was real — but they are not getting payments or reports from the REMIC Trust.
And most borrowers don’t realize that their identity was stolen, that their loan was cloned, and that each version of their loan that was sold netted another 100% profit to the investment banks, who also sold the bonds to the Federal Reserve after they had already sold the same bonds to investors. Thus the investment banks screwed the investors, screwed the borrowers and screwed the taxpayers while their plan resulted in a cataclysmic failure of the economies around the world. Investors mostly don’t realize that they are never going to see the money they were promised and that the banks are keeping the investors’ money as if it belonged to the bank. Most investors also don’t realize that the investment banks were their servant and that all that money the bank made really belongs to the investor, thus zeroing out the liability of the borrower but creating an enormous profit to the investors. Most borrowers don’t realize that they certainly don’t owe money to any of the foreclosing parties, but that they might have some remote liability to the clueless investors whose money was used to fund this circus.