Lateral Appeal in BKR to District Judge Often Overlooked

The PHH case underscores the statistics and the substance of actions brought in U.S> Bankruptcy Court. The fact is that BKR judges, once called magistrates, do not have the jurisdiction or power of ordinary District Court Judges.

In addition out of the three possible venues for appeal from BKR rulings and decisions, the one that gets the most traction the most often is directly to the sitting District Court judge in whose courthouse the BKR proceedings are pending. District judges are the most likely to find that the BKR “judge” lacked jurisdiction or power to even hear many matters.

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Hat tip to Dan Edstrom

see PHH v Sensenich US Dist Lexis 207801

There are three possible routes for appeal. The one that gets the best results is rarely used for unknown reasons. So here are some pointers on bringing an appeal from a ruling or decision entered by a BKR judge:

  1. Lateral appeal to District Court Judge: Success rate around 50%
  2. Bankruptcy Appellate Panel (BAP): Success rate around 15%
  3. Direct appeal to the Circuit Court of Appeals: Success rate less than 15%.

This anomaly was first pointed out by a Bankruptcy Court Judge in Arizona who as presenting at a CLE Bar Seminar for Bankruptcy lawyers. The seminar was in 2009 and still we are waiting for BKR practitioners to pick up the ball.

An apparently little known fact is that BKR courts are courts of limited jurisdiction as to what they can hear and how they can hear the issues. Many practitioners avoid an appeal from BKR to the Federal District Court Judge because they think that the District judge is on the same level as the BKR judge. And they think that two judges on the same bench are not going to rule against each other.

This view is simply wrong. They are not on the same bench. District Judges have authority over everything that happens in BKR court. BKR court is itself broken up into two categories. One category is simple rulings on motions in the administrative court proceeding (which is why the BKR “Judges” were called magistrates).

Most of what happens in the administrative phase of a bankruptcy is ministerial. Rulings that cross the line of ruling from ministerial to substantive judgments on the law regarding consumer rights, foreclosures etc. are subject to challenge and are as likely to get overturned by the District Judge as not. This is the part most people have some familiarity.

The other category is Adversary actions. This means someone has filed a lawsuit in Bankruptcy Court that is separately served and subject to the same rules of procedure as an action filed in U.S. District Court. But the similarity ends there. Many adversary actions go far beyond the jurisdiction of the BKR judge.

Lack of jurisdiction means the judgment or ruling is void. Those void judgments are generally reversed by the District Court judge and not necessarily by the BAP or Circuit Court probably because nobody brings up the issue of whether the BKR action was in the correct court.

Generally speaking there are two categories of appeal: procedural and substantive. Appeals citing errors in procedure (including jurisdiction) generally get the most traction. Appeals citing substantive law or worse, citing errors in apprehending the evidence, have the lowest success rate.

In the case cited above, Federal District Court Judge Geoffrey Crawford reversed a bankruptcy judge’s ruling that had imposed sanctions against a creditor “based on Rule 3002.1(i) of the Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, the bankruptcy court’s inherent authority, and Bankruptcy Code section 105.”

The sanctions were awarded in three cases where debtors had to make mortgage payments pursuant to chapter 13 plans.  The mortgage servicer had billed the debtors for fees that the bankruptcy trustee asserted were improper. At a trustee’s request, the bankruptcy court imposed sanctions against the servicer of $375,000: $25,000 for each case under Rule 3002.(i) and $300,000 total for violations of court orders under its inherent powers and section 105.

Rule 3002.1 permits bankruptcy courts to provide relief to debtors when mortgage creditors fail to disclose certain fees and charges. Rule 3002.1(i) allows courts to remedy violations of certain provisions of Rule 3002.1 by (among other things) “award[ing] other appropriate relief, including reasonable expenses and attorney’s fees caused by the failure.” Whether Rule 3002.1 authorizes punitive sanctions was a matter of first impression. Neither the parties nor the court had found a case where a bankruptcy court had invoked the rule to support sanctions in this manner.

Judge Crawford reasoned that, because Rule 3002.1 is a procedural rule, it cannot enlarge the substantive authority of the bankruptcy courts. If bankruptcy courts do not have the substantive authority under statute and case law to issue punitive sanctions, then a mere procedural rule cannot alter the lack of substantive authority. The court thus concluded that the question under Rule 3002.1(i) was reducible to the question under a bankruptcy court’s inherent powers and section 105.

For homeowners this ruling helps. Citing it puts the banks in the position of opposing a ruling that went in their favor, i.e., this PHH case.  This also puts the homeowner on notice to check carefully before filing an adversary action instead of a collateral action that is directly before the District Judge or even State Court.

The problem is that most BKR attorneys who mostly do Chapter 7 and Chapter 13, have little or no litigation experience. Thus it may be necessary to NOT  charge your BKR lawyer with there responsibility of filing an adversary or collateral action and to bring in separate trial counsel even if the decision is made to file an adversary complaint.

 

 

 

Illusion of Confusion: Dealing with Unresponsive “Responses” in Discovery

The bank playbook is very simple: keep it as complicated as possible. That way the court and even the homeowner will come to rely on what the banks and so-called servicer say about names, places, documents and money. That’s how they sold the initial fraudulent MBS and around 10 million foreclosures.

If you had a high success rate and you succeeded in scaring most homeowners off from contesting fraudulent foreclosures, what would you do? You would keep going based upon a strategy of creating the illusion of complexity. The only really complex thing is the fact that the foreclosing parties make inconsistent assertions not only from case to case but from one pleading to another in one case.

What is simple? That the only two real parties in interest in this whole affair have been investors on one side and homeowners on the other side. Everyone else is an intermediary with little or no authority to do anything — a fact that has not stopped them from nearly destroying our financial system.

For reasons that have been discussed elsewhere on this blog, the acceptance of the illusion of confusion by the courts is NOT rooted in law, as it is required to be, but rather in politics. This isn’t the first time the courts made political decisions and it won’t be the last. But through persistence and good litigation techniques homeowners who went all the way to the end have often prevailed — probably because the judge was too uncomfortable once the real nature of the asserted transactions was revealed.

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—————-

I was writing an article on discovery when by coincidence Dan Edstrom who has been our senior most forensic analyst since 2008 forwarded some questions and comments about the discovery process. He understands full well that the discovery process does NOT consist of just asking a question or asking for a document and the other side then gives you all you need to win.

No, the response will be framed to confuse, which is generally enough to make the homeowner or the foreclosure defense walk away. The foreclosure goes though even though it is most likely completely fraudulent.

And the message that goes out to the world is the banks are winning a huge percentage of foreclosures when in fact they pretty much don’t win when the foreclosure is ably contested.  The issue is obvious — not enough people are ably contesting foreclosures.

In discovery it usually starts with interrogatories. And the first question is who is answering the interrogatories. So in one example, the answer was Sally Torres. The response was that Torres was “from” Ocwen Financial Corporation (OFC). She is described as a “representative” of OFC, which leaves open the question of the identity of her employer.

Back to basics — A corporation is a legal person. And THAT means it is not the same as another legal person, as for example Ocwen Loan Servicing (OLS).

So you need to read carefully and not skip the parts that nobody pays attention to — like the answer to the question and the verification where Torres signs the response. There she signs as a “representative” of OLS not OFC. That ,eaves open the same question but also adds another — is she a representative of both legal persons (OFC and OLS)? If so what is the nature of her “agency” for either legal person? If she is not an employee is there a contract?

The answers further state that she is a “Senior Loan Analyst” for OFC and a “Senior Loan Analyst” for OLS. Is it both? How does that work? And of course that gives rise to yet another question — What is a Senior Loan Analyst? Google it.

Job Summary. Responsible for analyzing financial and supporting documents on incoming applications consistent with internal and insurer policies. Evaluate property values based on appraised market prices and recommend or deny mortgages to clients after examining financial status.

Hmmmm. This sounds like a made-up title to impress a judge. The industry definition of a loan analyst describes a job that ends with the approval of a loan. What would a loan analyst know about foreclosure — years after the alleged origination of the alleged loan? More specifically, what did Torres actually know or do with regard to the subject loan? It doesn’t take a genius to speculate about a number of questions:

  • Did Torres actually sign the verification?
  • Why was a loan analyst necessary in the litigation of a foreclosure?
  • Is Ocwen a lender? Why need a loan analyst?
  • What as it that Torres analyzed?
  • Did she review the work of a “Junior” Analyst ?
  • Did someone else draft the answers?
  • Was there anyone who had personal knowledge of the loan history involved with answering the interrogatories?

The kicker in the case I reviewed, was that the notice letters were sent not by any Ocwen entity but by Wells Fargo. The problem here is that most lawyers do not wish to confess their ignorance and therefore don’t follow through with obvious questions. Everything they are seeing is incomprehensible and confusing.

Here is another example right out of a hearsay treatise: The “Plaintiff” in an unlawful detainer (eviction) action makes the assertion that the rental value of the subject property is $1,800 per month and that the only way they know that is from a website called “Rentometer.” How this number is calculated by the website is unknown. Nor do we know if any person was involved. But Judges regularly take this representation to be true, even though it comes from a declarant not present in court.

Here is the rub. If the attorney for the homeowner fails to raise an objection and motion to strike that assertion or representation the objection is waived. But on cross examination of the robo-witness it is fairly easy to show that there is no appraisal or opinion rendered by the witness, nor could there be. It is also fairly easy to establish that the witness has no idea who runs, operates, owns or is otherwise involved with Rentometer.

Like Zillow and other sites, Rentometer does not employ people. It employs computer algorithms that may or may not work in any given situation.

For all we know it is a site set up by the banks that looks professional but is used specifically to extract outsize rents from people defending their property. (thus cutting off income that could be used for an attorney).  It looks like it might be useful but no presumption should arise from the projection by Rentometer unless someone from Rentometer can lay the foundation for the estimate. But that would mean putting a person on the witness stand who is not a robo-witness so the foreclosing party is going to fight against that tooth and nail.

And of course any site that leis exclusively on algorithms could not possibly take into consideration whether the subject property is habitable, the school district, and other factors that apply to both marketability and price. In the case presented it appears that the rental value is zero or in fact negative. That is because the property’s condition is such that nobody would move into it without extensive major repairs and because taxes and maintenance of the exterior would still need to be paid.

And then there is this example: You ask for the documents that support the authority of the alleged new beneficiary to substitute the trustee on the deed of trust. You get back an assignment. But it turns out later, in court, that they are relying upon some additional unrecorded assignments. So you ask for the additional unrecorded assignments and the response is essentially “We already gave you the assignments.” In  this case with 1 recorded assignment and 2 unrecorded assignments their answer is exactly 1/3 true and 2/3 untrue. And THAT is why you need to be prepared to compel their response by a specific court order pointing to those documents and any others that pertain the request for production.

The most challenging thing after the foreclosure sale is to prove it should never have taken place. But it is possible and necessary to do that if you want the property or you want leverage for a settlement. You are challenging circular reasoning.

Their argument is that they followed the rules and appointed a substitute trustee who sold the property. Your answer is that the new ‘Beneficiary” was not a beneficiary, had no right to substitute the trustee and thus no right to file a notice of sale (nonjudicial states).

Here is where legal presumptions point the court in the wrong direction. Because the sale took place and it was “facially” valid, the presumption adopted by the court is usually that there was a sale even though you are contesting that narrative. You say that a sale didn’t take place, particularly where there was “credit bid” on behalf of an entity that had no interest in the debt and therefore could not possibly submit a credit bid.

Lastly the sleight of hand trick that is so successful for the banks is the assertion or inference that there is a trust. In this case US Bank is asserted, probably without tis knowledge, as the trustee of certificates which is no trusteeship at all. Even if you slip in “the holders of certificates” they still have not named a beneficiary.

So the common error being made out there is to ask for answers and documents and so forth and accepting the response from the servicer or alleged servicer. Back to basics: the  first question should be “please identify the person or entity that is the [Plaintiff (judicial state or any eviction action) / beneficiary on the deed of trust (nonjudicial states)].

Then the next question should be “Is the party executing the verification of these interrogatories an employee, officer of said Plaintiff/Beneficiary? They will respond with gibberish because the real party in interest is a remote “Master Servicer” of a trust that doesn’t exist.

And of course “Where are the records of the Plaintiff/Beneficiary that relate to the subject alleged loan?” Once again they will respond with gibberish because they want the court to accept the fabricated records of Ocwen as though they were the records of the Plaintiff/Beneficiary whose books and records do not exist. The closer you get the more likely they are to walk away or offer a settlement that includes a seal of confidentiality. And yes I have seen this scenario thousands of times.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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

Ally $52 Million settlement for “Deficient Securitization”

All of these adjectives describing securitization add up to one thing: the claims were false. For the most part none of the securitizations ever happened.

And that means that the REMIC trusts never purchased the debt, note or mortgage.

And THAT means the “servicer” claiming the right to administer a loan on behalf of the trust is false.

And THAT arguably means the business records of the servicer are not business records of the creditor.

And THAT my friends means what I have been saying for 10 years: virtually none of the foreclosures were legal, moral or justified. The real transaction was never revealed and never documented. The “closing” documents were fake, void and fraudulent. And THAT is grounds for cancellation of the note and mortgage.

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

see http://www.nationalmortgagenews.com/news/compliance-regulation/ally-to-pay-52m-to-settle-subprime-rmbs-investigation-1091364-1.html

It is hard to imagine any scenario under which Government cannot know what I have been saying for years — that the claims of securitization are false and the documents for the loans were fraudulent. Government has decided to ignore the facts thus transforming a nation of laws into a nation of men.

In plain English the decision was made to let the chips fall on borrowers, who were victims of the double blind fraud, despite clear and irrefutable evidence that the banks malevolent behavior caused the 2008 meltdown. The choice was made: based upon information from the birthplace of securitization fraud, Government decided that it was better to artificially prop up the securities markets and TBTF banks than to preserve the purchasing power and household wealth of the ordinary man and woman. The economy — driven by consumer spending (70% of GDP) — had the rug pulled out from under it. And THAT is why the effects of rescission are still with us 8 years after the great meltdown.

The fact that there are 7,000 community banks, credit unions and savings banks using the exact same electronic payments platform as the TBTF banks was washed aside by the enormous influence exerted by a dozen banks who controlled Washington, DC, the state legislatures, and the executive branch in most of the states.

The American voter came to understand that they had been screwed by their representatives in Government. They voted for Sanders, they voted for Trump and they voted for anyone who was for busting up government. But they still face daunting challenges as they continue to crash into a rigged system that favors a handful of merciless bankers who have bought their way into the Federal and State Capitals.

Chipping away at the monolithic Government Financial complex individual homeowners are winning case after case in court without notice by the media. It isn’t noticed because in most instances the cases are settled, even after judgment, with a seal of confidentiality. Most people don’t fight it at all. They sweep up and leave the keys on the counter believing they have committed some wrong and now they must pay the price. THAT is because they have not received the necessary information to realize that they can and should fight back.

Goldman Sachs Fined $5 Billion for Violations Dating Back to 2008

…should anyone who owns a home that is subject to claims of securitization of their mortgage be at risk of losing their property?

…the government should stop the arrogant policy of letting most of the burden fall onto middle class property owners.

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So we have another “settlement” with one of the major players in the greatest economic crime in human history. But the cover-up of the actual transgressions  emanating from corruption on Wall Street continues. Government investigators should have had a press conference in which they clearly stated the nature of the violations — all of them. People deserve to hear the truth; and the government should stop the arrogant policy of letting most of the burden fall onto the middle class property owners.

The defects in government intervention give rise the illusion that these settlements only have effect on the investors and other financial institutions who were defrauded. Both the charges and the settlements seem far away from the ground level loans and foreclosures. But that is only because of deals in which the government’s continued complicity in “protecting the banking system — a policy that has rewarded trillion dollar banks and given them unfair advantage over the 7,000 other banks and credit unions.

Government now knows the truth about what Wall Street did. But they are restricting their comments in the fear that maybe notes and mortgages would be obviously void, making the MBS bonds worthless causing some world-wide panic and even aggression against the United States for allowing these enormous crimes to occur and continue.

For example, if the government investigators actually said that the REMIC Trusts were never funded, then the cases pending in which the REMIC Trust is named as the initiator of the foreclosure would dissolve into nothing. There would be no Plaintiff in judicial states and there would be no beneficiary in non-judicial states. Thus the filing of a substitution of trustee on a deed of trust would be void. It would raise jurisdictional issues in addition to the absence of any foundation for the assertion of the right to foreclose.

If government investigators identified patterns of conduct in the fabrication, forgery and utterance of false instruments, recording false instruments, then presumptions of validity might not apply to documents presented in court as evidence. Instead of the note being all the evidence needed from a “holder”, the actual underlying transactions would need to be proven by parties seeking foreclosure. If those transactions don’t actually exist, then it follows that the note, mortgage and claim are worthless.

And a borrower could point to the finding by administrative agencies and law enforcement agencies that these practices constitute customary and usual practices in the industry — a statement that would go a long way to convincing a judge that he or she should not assume or presume anything without proof of payment (consideration) in the origination of the loan with whoever ended up as Payee on the note. The same analysis would apply for the alleged acquisition of the “loan.”

If the party on the note or the party claiming they acquired the loan was NOT a party to an actual transaction in which they made the loan or paid to acquire it, then the note is evidence of a transaction that does not exist. Instead government is continuing to cover-up the fact that a policy decision has been made in which borrowers can fend for themselves against perpetrators of financial violence.

The view from the bench still presumes that they would not have a case to decide if there wasn’t a valid loan transaction and a valid acquisition of the loan. They see defects in documentation as splitting hairs. And to make matters worse I have personally seen judges strike virtually all discovery requests that address the issue of whether real transactions took place. And I have seen lawyers retreat over the one issue that would mean success or failure for their client. The task of defending illegal foreclosures would be far easier if the consensus view from the bench was that all the loans are suspect and need to be proven as to ownership, balance and authority.

These issues are almost impossible to prove at trial because the parties with the actual information and proof are not even at the trial. But they can be reached in discovery where on a motion to compel answers and a hearing on the objections from the “bank” or “servicer” the homeowner presses his demand for data and documents that show the actual existence or nonexistence of these transactions.

It would seem that the U.S. Department of Justice is coming out of the shadows on this. They are looking back to 10 years ago when the violations were at their most extreme. We may yet see criminal prosecutions. But putting people in jail does not address the essential issue, to wit: should anyone who owns a home that is subject to claims of securitization of their mortgage be at risk of losing their property?

 

The Devil is in the Details — The Mortgage Cannot Be Enforced, Even If the Note Can Be Enforced

Cashmere v Department of Revenue

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Editor’s Introduction: The REAL truth behind securitization of so-called mortgage loans comes out in tax litigation. There a competent Judge who is familiar with the terms of art used in the world of finance makes judgements based upon real evidence and real comprehension of how each part affects another in the “securitization fail” (Adam Levitin) that took us by surprise. In the beginning (2007) I was saying the loans were securitized and the banks were saying there was no securitization and there was no trust.

Within a short period of time (2008) I deduced that there securitization had failed and that no Trust was getting the money from investors who thought they were buying mortgage backed securities and therefore the Trust could never be a holder in due course. I deduced this from the complete absence of claims that they were holders in due course. Whether they initiated foreclosure as servicer, trustee or trust there was no claim of holder in due course. This was peculiar because all the elements of a holder in due course appeared to be present because that is what was required in the securitization documents — at least in the Pooling and Servicing Agreement and prospectus.

If the foreclosing party was a holder in due course they would merely have to show what the securitization required — a purchase in good faith of the loan documents for value without knowledge of any of borrower’s defenses.  This would bar virtually any defense by the borrower and allow them to get a judgment on the note and a foreclosure based upon the auxiliary contract for collateral — the mortgage. But they didn’t allege that for reasons that I have described in recent articles — they could not, as part of their prima facie case, prove that any party in their “chain” had funded or paid any money for the loan.

After analyzing this case, consider the possibility that there is no party in existence who has the power to foreclose. The Trust beneficiaries clearly don’t have that right. The Trust doesn’t either because they didn’t pay anything for it. The Trustee doesn’t have that right because it can only assert the rights of the Trust and Trust beneficiaries. The servicer doesn’t have that right because it derives its authority from the Pooling and Servicing Agreement which does not apply because the loan never made it into the Trust. The originator doesn’t have the right both because they never loaned the money and now disclaim any interest in the mortgage.

Then consider the fact that it is ONLY the investors who have their money at risk but that they failed to get any documentation securing their “involuntary loans.” They might have actions to recover money from the borrower, but those actions are far from secured, and certainly subject to numerous defenses. The investors are barred from enforcing either the note or the mortgage by the terms of the instruments, the terms of the PSA and the rule of law. They are left with an unsecured common law right of action to get what they can from a claim for unjust enrichment or some other type of claim that actually reflects the true facts of the original transaction in which the borrower did receive a loan, but not from anyone represented at the loan closing.

Now we have the Cashmere case. The only assumption that the Court seems to get wrong is that the investors were trust beneficiaries because the court was assuming that the Trust received the proceeds of sale of the bonds. This does not appear to be the case. But the case also explains why the investors wanted to take the position that they were trust beneficiaries in order to get the tax treatment they thought they were getting. So here we have the victims and perpetrators of the fraud taking the same side because of potentially catastrophic results in tax treatment — potentially treating principal payments as ordinary income. That would reduce the return on investment below zero. They lost.

http://stopforeclosurefraud.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Cashmere-v-Dept-of-Revenue.pdf

I have changed fonts to emphasize certain portion of the following excerpts from the Case decision:

“Cashmere’s investments merely gave Cashmere the right to receive specific cash flows generated by the assets of the trust at specific times. But if the REMIC trustee failed to pay Cashmere according to the terms of the investment, Cashmere had no right to sell the mortgage loans or the residential property or any other asset of the trust to satisfy this obligation. Cf. Dep’t of Revenue v. Sec. Pac. Bank of Wash. Nat’/ Ass’n, 109 Wn. App. 795, 808, 38 P.3d 354 (2002) (deduction allowed because mortgage companies transferred ownership of loans to taxpayer who could sell the oans in event of default). Cashmere’s only recourse would be to sue the trustee for performance of the obligation or attempt to replace the trustee. The trustee’s successor would then take legal title to the underlying securities or other assets of the related trust. At no time could Cashmere take control of trust assets and reduce them to cash to satisfy a debt obligation. Thus, we hold that under the plain language of the statute, Cashmere’s investments in REMICs are not primarily secured by mortgages or deeds of trust.
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“Cashmere argues that the investments are secure because the trustee is obligated to protect the investors’ interests and the trustee has the right to foreclose. But, this is not always the case. The underlying mortgages back all of the tranches, and a trustee must balance competing interests between investors of different tranches. Thus, a default in one tranche does not automatically give the holders of that tranche a right to force foreclosure. We hold that if the terms of the trust do not give beneficiaries an investment secured by trust assets, the trustee’s fiduciary obligations do not transform the investment into a secured investment.

“In a 1990 determination, DOR explained why interest earned from investments in REMICs does not qualify for the mortgage tax deduction. see Wash. Dep’t of Revenue, Determination No. 90-288, 10 Wash. Tax Dec. 314 (1990). A savings and loan association sought a refund of B&O taxes assessed on interest earned from investments in REMICs. The taxpayer argued that because interest received from investments in pass-through securities is deductible, interest received on REMICs
should be too. DOR rejected the deduction, explaining that with pass-through securities, the issuer holds the mortgages in trust for the investor. In the event of individual default, the issuer, as trustee, will foreclose on the property to satisfy the terms of the loan. In other words, the right to foreclose is directly related to homeowner defaults-in the event of default, the trustee can foreclose and the proceeds from foreclosure flow to investors who have a beneficial ownership interest in the underlying mortgage. Thus, investments in pass-through securities are “primarily secured by” first mortgages.

“By contrast, with REMICs, a trustee’s default may or may not coincide with an individual homeowner default. So, there may be no right of foreclosure in the event a trustee fails to make a payment. And if a trustee can and does foreclose, proceeds from the sale do not necessarily go to the investors. Foreclosure does not affect the trustee’s obligations vis-a-vis the investor. Indeed, the Washington Mutual REMIC here contains a commonly used form of guaranty: “For any month, if the master servicer receives a payment on a mortgage loan that is less than the full scheduled payment or if no payment is received at all, the master servicer will advance its own funds to cover the shortfall.” “The master servicer will not be required to make advances if it determines that those advances will not be recoverable” in the future. At foreclosure or liquidation, any proceeds will go “first to the servicer to pay back any advances it might have made in the past.” Similarly, agency REMICs, like the Fannie Mae REMIC Trust 2000-38, guarantee payments even if mortgage borrowers default, regardless of whether the issuer expects to recover those payments. Moreover, the assets held in a REMIC trust are often MBSs, not mortgages.

“So, if the trustee defaults, the investors may require the trustee to sell the MBS, but the investor cannot compel foreclosure of individual properties. DOR also noted that it has consistently allowed the owners of a qualifying mortgage to claim the deduction in RCW 82.04.4292. But the taxpayer who invests in REMICs does not have any ownership interest in the MBSs placed in trust as collateral, much less any ownership interest in the mortgage themselves. By contrast, a pass-through security represents a beneficial ownership of a fractional undivided interest in a pool of first lien residential mortgage loans. Thus, DOR concluded that while investments in pass-through securities qualify for the tax deduction, investments in REMICs do not. We should defer to DOR’s interpretation because it comports with the plain meaning of the statute.

“Moreover, this case is factually distinct. Borrowers making the payments that eventually end up in Cashmere’s REMIC investments do not pay Cashmere, nor do they borrow money from Cashmere. The borrowers do not owe Cashmere for use of borrowed money, and they do not have any existing contracts with Cashmere. Unlike HomeStreet, Cashmere did not have an ongoing and enforceable relationship with borrowers and security for payments did not rest directly on borrowers’ promises to repay the loans. Indeed, REMIC investors are far removed from the underlying mortgages. Interest received from investments in REMICs is often repackaged several times and no longer resembles payments that homeowners are making on their mortgages.

“We affirm the Court of Appeals and hold that Cashmere’s REMIC investments are not “primarily secured by” first mortgages or deeds of trust on nontransient residential real properties. Cashmere has not shown that REMICs are secured-only that the underlying loans are primarily secured by first mortgages or deeds of trust. Although these investments gave Cashmere the right to receive specific cash flows generated by first mortgage loans, the borrowers on the original loans had no obligation to pay Cashmere. Relatedly, Cashmere has no direct or indirect legal recourse to the underlying mortgages as security for the investment. The mere fact that the trustee may be able to foreclose on behalf of trust beneficiaries does not mean the investment is “primarily secured” by first mortgages or deeds of trust.

Editor’s Note: The one thing that makes this case even more problematic is that it does not appear that the Trust ever paid for the acquisition or origination of loans. THAT implies that the Trust didn’t have the money to do so. Because the business of the trust was the acquisition or origination of loans. If the Trust didn’t have the money, THAT implies the Trust didn’t receive the proceeds of sale from their issuance of MBS. And THAT implies that the investors are not Trust beneficiaries in any substantive sense because even though the bonds were issued in the name of the securities broker as street name nominee (non objecting status) for the benefit of the investors, the bonds were issued in a transaction that was never completed.

Thus the investors become simply involuntary direct lenders through a conduit system to which they never agreed. The broker dealer controls all aspects of the actual money transfers and claims the amounts left over as fees or profits from proprietary trading. And THAT means that there is no valid mortgage because the Trust got an assignment without consideration, the Trustee has no interest in the mortgage and the investors who WERE the original source of funds were never given the protection they thought they were getting when they advanced the money. So the “lenders” (investors) knew nothing about the loan closing and neither did the borrower. The mortgage is not enforceable by the named “originator” because they were not the lender and they did not close as representative of the lenders.

There is no party who can enforce an unenforceable contract, which is what the mortgage is here. And the note is similarly defective — although if the note gets into the hands of a party who DID PAY value in good faith without knowledge of the borrower’s defenses and DID GET DELIVERY and ACCEPT DELIVERY of the loans then the note would be enforceable even if the mortgage is not. The borrower’s remedy would be to sue the people who put him into those loans, not the holder who is suing on the note because the legislature adopted the UCC and Article 3 says the risk of loss falls on the borrower even if there were defenses to the loan. The lack of consideration might be problematic but the likelihood is that the legislative imperative would be followed — allowing the holder in due course to collect from the borrower even in the absence of a loan by the so-called “originator.”

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