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Banks Fighting Subpoenas From FHFA Over Access to Loan Files

Whilst researching something else I ran across the following article first published in 2010. Upon reading it, it bears repeating.

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THIS ARTICLE IS NOT A LEGAL OPINION UPON WHICH YOU CAN RELY IN ANY INDIVIDUAL CASE. HIRE A LAWYER.
—————-

WHAT IF THE LOANS WERE NOT ACTUALLY SECURITIZED?

In a nutshell this is it. The Banks are fighting the subpoenas because if there is actually an audit of the “content” of the pools, they are screwed across the board.

My analysis of dozens of pools has led me to several counter-intuitive but unavoidable factual conclusions. I am certain the following is correct as to all residential securitized loans with very few (2-4%) exceptions:

  1. Most of the pools no longer exist.
  2. The MBS sold to investors and insured by AIG and the purchase and sale of credit default swaps were all premised on a general description of the content of the pool rather than a detailed description with the individual loans attached on a list.
  3. Each Prospectus if it carried any spreadsheet listing loans, contained a caveat that the attached list was by example only and not the real loans.
  4. Each distribution report contained a caveat that the parties who created it and the parties who delivered it did not guarantee either authenticity or reliability of the report. They even had specific admonitions regarding the content of the distribution report.
  5. NO LOAN ACTUALLY MADE IT INTO ANY POOL. The evidence is clear: nothing was done to assign, indorse or deliver the note to the investors directly or indirectly until a case went into litigation AND a hearing was scheduled. By that time the cutoff date had been breached and the loan was non-performing by their own allegation and therefore was not acceptable into the pool.
  6. AT ALL TIMES LEGAL TITLE TO THE PROPERTY WAS MAINTAINED BY THE HOMEOWNER EVEN AFTER FORECLOSURE AND SALE. The actual creditor who submitted a credit bid was not the creditor. The sale is either void or voidable.
  7. AT ALL TIMES LEGAL TITLE TO THE LOAN WAS MAINTAINED BY THE ORIGINATING “LENDER”. Since there was no assignment, indorsement or delivery that could be recognized at law or in fact, the originating lender still owns the loan legally BUT….
  8. AT ALL TIMES THE OBLIGATION WAS BOTH CREATED AND EXTINGUISHED AT, OR CONTEMPORANEOUSLY WITH THE CLOSING OF THE LOAN. Since the originating lender was in fact not the source of funds, and did not book the transaction as a loan on their balance sheet (in most cases), the naming of the originating lender as the Lender and payee on the note, both created a LEGAL obligation from the borrower to the Lender and at the same time, the LEGAL obligation was extinguished because the LEGAL Lender of record was paid in full plus exorbitant fees for pretending to be an actual lender.
  9. Since the Legal obligation was both created and extinguished contemporaneously with each other, any remaining obligation to any OTHER party became unsecured since the security instrument (mortgage or deed of trust) refers only to the promissory note executed by the borrower.
  10. At the time of closing, the investor-lenders were the real parties in interest as lenders, but they were not disclosed nor were the fees of the various intermediaries who brought the investor-lender money and the borrower’s loan together.
  11. ALL INVESTOR-LENDERS RECEIVED THE EQUIVALENT OF A BOND — A PROMISE TO PAY ISSUED BY A PARTY OTHER THAN THE BORROWER, PREMISED UPON THE PAYMENT OR RECEIVABLES GENERATED FROM BORROWER PAYMENTS, CREDIT DEFAULT SWAPS, CREDIT ENHANCEMENTS, AND THIRD PARTY INSURANCE.
  12. Nearly ALL investor-lenders have been paid sums of money to satisfy the promise to pay contained in the bond. These payments always exceeded the borrowers payments and in many cases paid the obligation in full WITHOUT SUBROGATION.
  13. NO LOAN IS IN ACTUAL DEFAULT OR DELINQUENCY. Since payments must first be applied to outstanding payments due, payments received by investor-lenders or their agents from third party sources are allocable to each individual loan and therefore cure the alleged default. A Borrower’s Non-payment is not a default since no payment is due.
  14. ALL NOTICES OF DEFAULT ARE DEFECTIVE: The amount stated, the creditor, and other material misstatements invalidate the effectiveness of such a notice.
  15. NO CREDIT BID AT AUCTION WAS MADE BY A CREDITOR. Hence the sale is void or voidable.
  16. ANY BALANCE DUE FROM THE BORROWER IS SUBJECT TO DEDUCTIONS FOR THIRD PARTY PAYMENTS.
  17. ANY BALANCE DUE FROM THE BORROWER IS SUBJECT TO AN EQUITABLE CLAIM FOR UNJUST ENRICHMENT THAT IS UNSECURED.
  18. ANY BALANCE DUE FROM THE BORROWER IS SUBJECT TO AN EQUITABLE CLAIM FOR A LIEN TO REFLECT THE INTENTION OF THE INVESTOR-LENDER AND THE INTENTION OF THE BORROWER.  Both the investor-lender and the borrower intended to complete a loan transaction wherein the home was used to collateralize the amount due. The legal satisfaction of the originating lender is not a deduction from the equitable satisfaction of the investor-lender. THUS THE PARTIES SEEKING TO FORECLOSE ARE SUBJECT TO THE LEGAL DEFENSE OF PAYMENT AT CLOSING BUT THE INVESTOR-LENDERS ARE NOT SUBJECT TO THAT DEFENSE.
  19. The investor-lenders ALSO have a claim for damages against the investment banks and the string of intermediaries that caused loans to be originated that did not meet the description contained in the prospectus.
  20. Any claim by investor-lenders may be subject to legal and equitable defenses, offsets and counterclaims from the borrower.
  21. The current modification context in which the securitization intermediaries are involved in settlement of outstanding mortgages is allowing those intermediaries to make even more money at the expense of the investor-lenders.
  22. The failure of courts to recognize that they must apply the rule of law results not only in the foreclosure of the property, but the foreclosure of the borrower’s ability to negotiate a settlement with an undisclosed equitable creditor, or with the legal owner of the loan in the property records.

Loan File Issue Brought to Forefront By FHFA Subpoena
Posted on July 14, 2010 by Foreclosureblues
Wednesday, July 14, 2010

foreclosureblues.wordpress.com

Editor’s Note….Even  U.S. Government Agencies have difficulty getting
discovery, lol…This is another excellent post from attorney Isaac
Gradman, who has the blog here…http://subprimeshakeout.blogspot.com.
He has a real perspective on the legal aspect of the big picture, and
is willing to post publicly about it.  Although one may wonder how
these matters may effect them individually, my point is that every day
that goes by is another day working in favor of those who stick it out
and fight for what is right.

Loan File Issue Brought to Forefront By FHFA Subpoena

The battle being waged by bondholders over access to the loan files
underlying their investments was brought into the national spotlight
earlier this week, when the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), the
regulator in charge of overseeing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, issued
64 subpoenas seeking documents related to the mortgage-backed
securities (MBS) in which Freddie and Fannie had invested.
The FHFA
has been in charge of overseeing Freddie and Fannie since they were
placed into conservatorship in 2008.

Freddie and Fannie are two of the largest investors in privately
issued bonds–those secured by subprime and Alt-A loans that were often
originated by the mortgage arms of Wall St. firms and then packaged
and sold by those same firms to investors–and held nearly $255 billion
of these securities as of the end of May. The FHFA said Monday that it
is seeking to determine whether issuers of these so-called “private
label” MBS misled Freddie and Fannie into making the investments,
which have performed abysmally so far, and are expected to result in
another $46 billion in unrealized losses to the Government Sponsored
Entities (GSE).

Though the FHFA has not disclosed the targets of its subpoenas, the
top issuers of private label MBS include familiar names such as
Countrywide and Merrill Lynch (now part of BofA), Bear Stearns and
Washington Mutual (now part of JP Morgan Chase), Deutsche Bank and
Morgan Stanley. David Reilly of the Wall Street Journal has written an
article urging banks to come forward and disclose whether they have
received subpoenas from the FHFA, but I’m not holding my breath.

The FHFA issued a press release on Monday regarding the subpoenas
(available here). The statement I found most interesting in the
release discusses that, before and after conservatorship, the GSEs had
been attempting to acquire loan files to assess their rights and
determine whether there were misrepresentations and/or breaches of
representations and warranties by the issuers of the private label
MBS, but that, “difficulty in obtaining the loan documents has
presented a challenge to the [GSEs’] efforts. FHFA has therefore
issued these subpoenas for various loan files and transaction
documents pertaining to loans securing the [private label MBS] to
trustees and servicers controlling or holding that documentation.”

The FHFA’s Acting Director, Edward DeMarco, is then quoted as saying
““FHFA is taking this action consistent with our responsibilities as
Conservator of each Enterprise. By obtaining these documents we can
assess whether contractual violations or other breaches have taken
place leading to losses for the Enterprises and thus taxpayers. If so,
we will then make decisions regarding appropriate actions.” Sounds
like these subpoenas are just the precursor to additional legal
action.

The fact that servicers and trustees have been stonewalling even these

powerful agencies on loan files should come as no surprise based on

the legal battles private investors have had to wage thus far to force

banks to produce these documents. And yet, I’m still amazed by the

bald intransigence displayed by these financial institutions. After

all, they generally have clear contractual obligations requiring them

to give investors access to the files (which describe the very assets

backing the securities), not to mention the implicit discovery rights

these private institutions would have should the dispute wind up in

court, as it has in MBIA v. Countrywide and scores of other investor

suits.

At this point, it should be clear to everyone–servicers and investors
alike–that the loan files will have to be produced eventually, so the
only purpose I can fathom for the banks’ obduracy is delay. The loan
files should, as I’ve said in the past, reveal the depths of mortgage
originator depravity, demonstrating convincingly that the loans never
should have been issued in the first place. This, in turn, will force
banks to immediately reserve for potential losses associated with
buying back these defective mortgages. Perhaps banks are hoping that
they can ward off this inevitability long enough to spread their
losses out over several years, thereby weathering the storm caused (in
part) by their irresponsible lending practices. But certainly the
FHFA’s announcement will make that more difficult, as the FHFA’s
inherent authority to subpoena these documents (stemming from the
Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008) should compel disclosure
without the need for litigation, and potentially provide sufficient
evidence of repurchase obligations to compel the banks to reserve
right away. For more on this issue, see the fascinating recent guest
post by Manal Mehta on The Subprime Shakeout regarding the SEC’s
investigation into banks’ processes for allocating loss reserves.

Meanwhile, the investor lawsuits continue to rain down on banks, with
suits by the Charles Schwab Corp. against Merrill Lynch and UBS, by
the Oregon Public Employee Retirement Fund against Countrywide, and by
Cambridge Place Investment Management against Goldman Sachs, Citigroup
and dozens of other banks and brokerages being announced this week. If
the congealing investor syndicate was looking for political cover
before staging a full frontal attack on banks, this should provide
ample protection. Much more to follow on these and other developments
in the coming days…
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Posted by Isaac Gradman at 3:46 PM

Table Funded: The Student Loan Scam

The essential question I pose is this: if the student loan was table funded (and it does appear to me that they were, in many cases), then why is the originator/broker receiving the government guarantee and the exemption from discharge? By definition they didn’t loan any money to the student. It seems to me that government, lawyers, and courts are overlooking the fact that many banks (large and small) have been acting as brokers and not as lenders.

Like the so-called mortgage loans, the underwriting decisions lie outside of the organization that “granted” the alleged loan from an undisclosed third party. Yet they claim and receive and sell government benefits as though they were lenders.

My theory under current law is that if the loan was funded from the sale of student debt pools there are two outcomes, to wit: (1) the government guarantee does not attach because there is no loan or risk of loss to guarantee and because the actual lender is not the broker, pretender who appears on the note, (i.e., they were not entitled to the government protections because they brokered the transaction instead of loaning the money) and (2) since the government guarantee and other conditions are no longer involved, there is no reason to prevent discharge in bankruptcy.

THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE IS NOT A LEGAL OPINION UPON WHICH YOU CAN RELY IN ANY INDIVIDUAL CASE. HIRE A LAWYER.

—————-

see http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/how-wall-street-profits-from-student-debt-20160414

Wall Street is like that closet in your house where you throw everything in that you probably won’t need for a while or maybe not at all. When you open the closet door everything falls out on top of you. In this case it is $1.2 Trillion on student debt with “default” rates rising sharply and interest rates rising into double digits. We are in effect making it impossible for the brightest minds to get the education we need for the sake of our society. Anyone want a doctor or lawyer who has been poorly education or not educated at all?

It’s all about money in education. Like medical insurance, the more distance you put between the consumer and the the actual delivery of the service, the less people think about it and the the more the vendors charge. In the end education becomes a process of justifying the cost of a commodity rather than creating the best possible education possible.

Somehow the banks managed to intervene between students and institutions of higher learning, such that they enjoy very high interest rates (after the student completes education) and a guarantee from the Federal government or at least a guarantee that the debt cannot be discharged in bankruptcy.

The government loans work the way they are intended and there are many programs to provide relief to students who in many cases are burdened for life with student debt. But the private loans, which now dominate the marketplace, are putting a drag on our prospects as a nation — but still great business for the banks. Most other countries do not allow graduating students to be burdened by this debt; and those countries that provide free tuition (up to a point) or who pay for their citizens to travel and learn in countries who have quality institutions for higher learning, end up with an increasing GDP stemming from the contribution and productivity of highly educated, trained people who became employees, officers and leaders.

But here is the rub — banks making student loans in most cases  enjoy immunity from bankruptcy and so they use all sorts of sales techniques to get the prospective student to borrow as much as possible for tuition and”expenses.” They do this for the same reasons that homeowners or home buyers were encouraged to put as much into  their alleged mortgage loan as possible — landscaping and other improvements to the house that did not raise the value of the home.

The game, once again, is securitization. Even if we assume that the claims of securitization of these loans are true, we see a basic inconsistency in the choices the banks make as to how to deal with the risk of loss. The answer, like the mortgage loans, is that they have no risk of loss. They have already sold the student loans into a secondary market for securitization. That being true, the premise behind the exclusion of student debt from the benefits of bankruptcy is false.

The first premise is that banks would not provide funding for higher education without the guarantee that the loans cannot be discharged in bankruptcy and, in other cases, without the guarantee of repayment by the government. This is not true. By securitizing the loans (or at least subjecting them to claims of securitization in the secondary market), the banks are making tons of money as brokers and conduits without any risk of loss whatsoever. Our previous system of public loans for high learning worked far better than the current one in which private lenders dominate the market despite the “reforms” that have been enacted.

The second premise is that both the loans and these government guarantees are salable to “investors.” This is the controversial part. Given the premise behind the government guarantees, why should a broker be able to sell that government guarantee at a profit? What gives them the right to sell government promises? The object was to provide capital to students — not to increase the number of arcane financial products in the marketplace. If the loans are not salable without those government guarantees, it is because (as we know from the mortgage market) the loans make no sense. These are flawed financial products based upon the same “bad underwriting” we have seen in the continuing mortgage crisis.

Thus my premise and my question are the same: why should a bank or other “lender” make a profit on a bad loan? Why should banks be freed from the risk of loss that the government guarantees are meant to cover? Why have we strayed from existing law in which the “banks” (which we have all presumed to be “lenders”) are the party primarily responsible for the viability of the loan? Why should these bad loans be subject to sale to “investors” whose only interest in the student loans is the elimination of risk because the government has guaranteed benefits? Why should young people, before they get their education, be held to a higher standard of responsibility than the banks who are setting them up for failure?

My proposed legal theory is that once a bank makes the election to sell the student loan into the secondary market, the government guarantees should vanish. My theory under current law is that if the loan was funded from the sale of student debt pools there are two outcomes, to wit: (1) the government guarantee does not attach because there is no risk of loss to guarantee and because the lender is not the broker, pretender who appears on the note, (i.e., they were not entitled to the government protections because they brokered the transaction instead of loaning the money) and (2) since the government guarantee is no longer involved, there is no reason to prevent discharge in bankruptcy.

Then we will have close attention paid to the value of the loans and the manner in which they were sold. Once sold, these loans should be dischargeable in bankruptcy. Once sold these loans should offer no safe haven to investors that the loan will be paid by the U.S. government. Whether this can be done in the courts under current law is debatable. But it can and should be done through Congress and state legislatures. Without these reforms we are essentially eating our young.

MISSION CREEP NOTICE: Wall Street is now looking to “Securitize” health care loans. There is hardly anything they are not claiming to securitize.

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

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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.

Quite a Stew: Wells Fargo Pressure Cooker for Sales and Fabricated Documents

Wells Fargo Investigated by 4 Agencies for Manual on Fabricating Foreclosure Documents

Wells Fargo is under investigation for a lot of things these days, just as we find in Bank of America and other major “institutions.” The bottom line is that they haven’t been acting very institutional and their culture is one that has led to fraud, identity theft and outright fabrication of accounts and documents.

There can be little doubt about it. Documents that a real bank acting like a bank would have in its possession appear to be completely absent in most if not all loans that are “performing” (i.e., the homeowner is paying, even if the party they are paying isn’t the right and even if the loan has already been paid off). But as soon as the file becomes subject to foreclosure proceedings, documents miraculously appear showing endorsements, allonges, powers of attorney and assignments. According to a report from The Real Deal (New York Real Estate News), these are frequently referred to as “ta-da endorsements” a reference from magic acts where rabbits are pulled from the hat.

Such endorsements and other fabricated documents have been taken at face value by many judges across the country, despite vigorous protests from homeowners who were complaining about everything from “they didn’t have the documents before, so where did they get them?” to luring homeowners into false modifications that were designed to trap homeowners into foreclosure.

After 7 years of my reporting on the fact that the documents do not exist, including a report from Katherine Anne Porter at what was then the University of Iowa that the documents were intentionally destroyed and “lost” it has finally dawned on regulators and law enforcement that something is wrong. They could have done the same thing that I did. I had inquiries from hundreds (back then, now thousands) of homeowners looking for help.

So the first thing I did was I  sent qualified written requests to the parties who were claiming to be the “lenders.” After sending out hundreds of these the conclusion was inescapable. Any loan where the homeowner was continuing to make their payments have no documentation. Any loan where the homeowner was in the process of foreclosure had documentation of appear piece by piece as it seemed to be needed in court. This pattern of fabrication of documents was pandemic by 2007 and 2008. They were making this stuff up as they went along.

It has taken seven years for mainstream media and regulators to ask the next obvious question, to wit: why would the participants in an industry based on trust and highly complex legal instruments created by them fall into patterns of conduct in which nobody trusted them and where the legal instruments were lost, destroyed and then fabricated? In my seminars I phrased the question differently. The question I posed is that if you had a $10 bill in your hand, why would you stick it in a shredder? The promissory note and the other documents from the alleged loan closings were the equivalent of cash, according to all legal and common sense standards. Why would you destroy it?

As I said in 2008 and continue saying in 2014, the only reason you would destroy the $10 bill is that you had told somebody you were holding something other than a $10 bill. Perhaps you told them it was a $100 bill. Now they want to see it. Better to “lose” the original bill then admit that you were lying in the first place. One is simple negligence (losing it) and the other is criminal fraud (lying about it). The banking industry practically invented all of the procedures and legal papers associated with virtually every type of loan. The processing of loans has been the backbone of the banking industry for hundreds of years. Did they forget how to do it?

The answers to these questions are both inconvenient and grotesque. I know from my past experience on Wall Street that bankers did not deserve the trust that everyone seemed to repose in them. But this conduct went far beyond anything I ever saw on Wall Street. The answer is simply that the bankers traded trust for money. They defrauded the investors, most of whom were stable managed funds guarding the pensions of millions of people. Then they defrauded homeowners creating a pressure cooker of sales culture in which banking evolved simply into marketing and sales. Risk analysis and risk control were lost in the chaos.

The very purpose for which banks came into existence was to have a place of safety in which you could deposit your money with the knowledge that it would still be there when you came back. Investors were lured into a scheme in which they thought their money was being used to fund trusts; those trusts issued mortgage bonds that in most cases were never certificated. In most cases the trust received no money, no assets and no income. The fund managers who were the investors  never had a chance.

The money from the investors was instead kept by the broker-dealers who then traded with it like drunken sailors. They pumped up real estate PRICES  far above real estate VALUES, based on any reasonable appraisal standards. The crash would come, and they knew it. So after lying to the investor lenders and lying to the homeowner borrowers they lied to the insurers, guarantors, co-obligors and counterparties to credit default swaps that had evolved from intelligent hedge products to high flying overly complicated contracts that spelled out “heads I win, tails you lose.”

In order to do all of that they needed to claim the loans and the bonds as though they were owned by the broker-dealers when in fact the broker-dealers were merely the investment banks that had taken the money from investors and instead of using it in the way that the investors were told, they created the illusion (by lying) of the scheme that was called securitization when in fact it was basically common fraud, identity theft of both the lenders and borrowers, in a Ponzi scheme. When Marc Dreier was convicted of similar behavior the amount was only $400 million but it was the larger scheme of its kind ever recorded.

When Bernard Madoff was convicted of similar behavior the amount was only $60 billion, but the general consensus was that this was the largest fraud in history and would maintain that status for generations. But when the Madoff scandal was revealed it was obvious that members of the banking industry had to be involved; what was not so obvious is that the banking industry itself had already committed a combination of identity theft, fraud and corruption that was probably 300 times the size of the Madoff scandal.

The assumption that these are just loans that were to be enforced just like any other loans is naïve. The lending process described in the paperwork at the closings of these loans was a complete lie. The actual lender did not know the closing had occurred, never received the note and mortgage, nor any other instrument that protected the investor lenders. The borrower did not know the actual lender existed. Closing agent was at best negligent and at worst part of the scheme. Closing agent applied money from the investors to the closing of the “loan” and gave the paperwork that should’ve gone to the investors to third parties who didn’t have a dime invested in the deal. Later the investment banks would claim that they were suffering losses, but it was a lie, this time to the taxpayers and the government.

The reason the investment banks need to fabricate documentation is simply because their scheme required multiple sales of the same loan to multiple parties. They had to wait until they couldn’t wait any longer in order to pick a plaintiff to file a foreclosure lawsuit or pick a beneficiary who would appear out of nowhere to start the nonjudicial sale of property in which they were a complete stranger to the transaction.

The reason that homeowners should win in any reasonable challenge to a foreclosure action is that neither the forecloser nor the balance has been correctly stated. In many cases the balance “owed” by the borrower is negative! Yes that means that money is owed back to the borrower even know they stopped making payments. This is so counter intuitive that it is virtually impossible for most people to wrap their brains around this concept and that is exactly what Wall Street banks have been counting on and using against us for years.

LA Times Report on Wells Fargo Sales Culture

Florida’s Hardest Hit Fund Becomes Focus for Help to Homeowners

This is the topic for tonight’s Neil Garfield show. Tune in tonight or down load the podcast:

Click in to tune in at The Neil Garfield Show

Or call in at (347) 850-1260, 6pm Thursdays

Tonight’s Show Features Carolyn Trego, Hardest Hit Administrator for the Law Offices of Paul A. Krasker, P.A.

 There are dozens of programs available in many of the states that could help thousands of homeowners. The problem is that nobody is making application to those programs. So I am publicizing facts about those programs in an effort to encourage homeowners and attorneys to do their homework and to make proper application. It is probably a good idea to utilize the services of the law firms that have already started to concentrate on these programs. These firms are willing to cocounsel with other lawyers who have been litigating cases or web clients that might benefit from these programs.

 The following article was written based upon information provided by a member of the staff of the law firm that appears to be doing a very good job of assisting homeowners, accessing all available remedies —  which might include but is not limited to litigation.

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Quite often I run into homeowners who have had a hardship and do not know what help could be available.  Two years ago, the federal government gave an additional $2 billion to the 18 states and the District of Columbia that were hardest hit in the economic downturn.

State of Florida was allocated $1Billion Dollars has a hardship fund available only to Florida homeowners called Florida’s Hardest Hit Fund.    Most of you Floridians have not heard of the Fund – mostly because it is poorly marketed by the State, but it is real and deserves more attention.  I cannot believe others are not screaming this from the rooftops and foreclosure defense attorneys and loan modification companies are not referring all their clients to see if this Fund can solve the deficiency issues (or at least narrow the gap of deficiency).  

The owners are not charged a fee to apply for or to receive the available funds.  Final decisions are usually rendered within 60-90 days.  You can even continue to pursue a long term modification while receiving the funds.

Two types of homeowners are covered: Unemployed and underemployed due to no fault of their own.  The funding is to help pay the mortgage arrearages and to help pay the future mortgage payments of qualified homeowners. 

Florida’s Hardest Hit Fund has in place two programs: UMAP and MLRP.  Homeowners could qualify for one or both programs at the same time.  The homeowners who qualify may receive mortgage assistance for future payments up to 12 months (capped at $24,000), or until the homeowner finds adequate employment to resume paying the mortgage (whichever comes first), with up to $18,000 available to reinstate a delinquent first mortgage prior to payments being made.   That is a total of $42,000 to eligible homeowners at no cost to them and quick turn-around times.  How is it possible that this is not being better advertised and promoted?

Additionally, for a homeowner who is delinquent but is recovering from unemployment/underemployment (who may now have a job) and now can afford their future payments, they can still receive up to $25,000 as a one-time payment toward reinstatement of their delinquent first mortgage balance. 

HHF assistance is paid directly to the loan servicer/lender for those homeowners deemed eligible to participate in the program.  Eligibility depends on 3 things: Household eligibility, Property eligibility, Mortgage eligibility.

While you can apply online directly to the State website.

To further information, you can contact Carolyn Trego at 877-332-1965 and she will be happy to assist you with your questions and needs.  You may also visit the HHF official website at www.FLHardestHitHelp.org to review eligibility criteria and apply. 

When applying; please use Referral Code 70099 when completing your application so that you will be directed to the Law Office of Paul Krasker for further assistance.

Countrywide Found Guilty of Fraud, JPM Criminal Responsibility for Madoff PONZI Scheme

“The words PONZI SCHEME and FRAUD applied to the mortgage meltdown has been largely dismissed by policy makers, law enforcement and regulators. Instead we heard the terms RISKY BEHAVIOR and RECKLESSNESS. Now law enforcement has finally completed its investigation and determined that those who set the tone and culture of Wall Street were deeply involved in the Madoff PONZI scheme and were regularly committing FRAUD in the creation and sale of mortgage bonds and the underlying “DEFECTIVE” loans. The finding shows that these plans were not risky nor reckless. They were intentional and designed to deceive and cause damage to everyone relying upon their false representations. The complex plan of false claims of securitization is now being pierced making claims of “plausible deniability” RISKY and RECKLESS.

And if the loans were defective there is no reason to believe that this applies only to the loans claimed to be in default. It applies to all loans subject to false claims of securitization, false documentation for non existent transactions, and fraudulent collection practices by reporting and collecting on balances that were fraudulently stated in the first instance. At this point all loans are suspect, all loan balances stated are suspect, and all Foreclosures based on these loans were frauds upon the court, should be vacated and the homeowner reinstated to ownership of the property and possession of the property. All such loans should have the loan balance adjusted by the courts for appropriate set off in denying the borrowers the benefit of the bargain that was presented to them.

“It is now difficult to imagine a scenario where the finding of the intentional use and creation of defective mortgages will not trickle down to all mortgage litigation. The Countrywide decision is the first that expressly finds them guilty of creating defective loans. It is impossible to believe that Countrywide’s intentional acts of malfeasance won’t spread to the investment banks that used Countrywide as the aggregator of defective loans (using the proprietary desk top underwriting software for originators to get approval). The reality is coming up, front and center. And Judges who ignore the defenses of homeowners who were of course defrauded by the same defective mortgages are now on notice that bias towards the banks simply doesn’t work in the real world.” — Neil F Garfield,www.livinglies.me October 24, 2013

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By Neil F Garfield, Esq. Tallahassee, Florida October 24, 2013. If the mortgages were defective and were used fraudulently to gain illicit profits it is not possible to avoid the conclusions that homeowners are among the victims. By using false appraisals the huge banks created the illusion of rising prices. This was manipulation of market prices just as the banks were found guilty of manipulating stated market rates for interbank lending “LIBOR” and use of the manipulated pricing to trade for further benefit knowing that the reality was different. The banks have continued this pattern behavior and are still doing it, and laying fines as a cost of doing business in the manipulation and ownership of natural resources. They are a menace to all societies on the planet. The threat of that menace must be removed In the face of a clear and present danger posed by the real world knowledge that where an opportunity arises for “moral hazard” the banks will immediately use it causing further damage to government, taxpayers, consumers and investors.

None of it was disclosed or even referenced at the alleged loan closing with borrowers despite federal and state laws that require all such undisclosed profits and compensation to be disclosed or suffer the consequence of required payment to the borrower of all such undisclosed compensation. The borrowers are obviously entitled to offset for the false appraisals used by lenders to induce borrowers to accept defective loan products.

Further, borrowers have a clear right of action for treble damages for the pattern of conduct that constituted fraud as a way of doing business. In addition, borrowers can now be scene through a clear lens — that they are entitled to the benefit of the bargain that they reasonably thought they were getting. That they were deceived and coerced into accepting defective loans with undisclosed players and undisclosed compensation and undisclosed repayment terms raises the probability now that borrowers who present their case well, could well start getting punitive damages awards with regularity. It’s easy to imagine the closing argument for exemplary or punitive damages — “$10 billion wasn’t enough to stop them, $25 billion wasn’t enough to stop of them, so you, members of the jury, must decide what will get their attention without putting them out of business. You have heard evidence of the tens of billions of dollars in profits they have reported. It’s up to you to decide what will stop the banks from manipulating the marketplace, fraudulently selling defective loans to borrowers and pension funds alike with the intention of deceiving them and knowing that they would reasonably rely on their misrepresentations. You decide.”

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U.S. prepares to take action against JPMorgan over Madoff
In what would be an almost unheard of move when it comes to U.S. banks, the FBI and the U.S. attorney’s office are in talks with JPMorgan (JPM) about imposing a deferred prosecution agreement over allegations that the bank turned a blind eye to Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, the NYT reports.
Authorities would suspend criminal charges against JPMorgan but impose a fine and other concessions, and warn the bank that it will face indictments over any future misconduct.
However, the government has not decided to charge any current or former JPMorgan employees.
The report comes as the bank holds talks with various regulators over a $13B deal to settle claims about its mortgage practices.

Countrywide found guilty in U.S. mortgage suit
A federal jury has found Bank of America’s (BAC -2.1%) Countrywide unit liable for defrauding Fannie Mae (FNMA +22%) and Freddie Mac (FMCC +19.4%) by selling them thousands of defective mortgages.
The judge will determine the amount of the penalty – the U.S. has requested $848M, the gross loss to the GSEs as calculated by its expert witness.
The suit centered on Countrywide’s HSSL – High Speed Swim Lane – program instituted in August 2007, says the government, to keep the music playing as the property market was falling apart.

DOJ probes nine leading banks over sale of mortgage debt
The Department of Justice is reportedly investigating nine major banks over the sale of problematic mortgage bonds, although the probes are for civil infractions rather than criminal ones.
The banks are Bank of America (BAC), Citigroup (C), Credit Suisse (CS), Deutsche Bank (DB), Goldman Sachs (GS), Morgan Stanley (MS), RBS (RBS), UBS (UBS) and Wells Fargo (WFC).
The inquiries span U.S. attorney’s offices from California to Massachusetts, and come as JPMorgan tries to reach a multi-billion dollar settlement over the issue.

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