Why Fabrications? Why Forgeries?

In an increasing number of foreclosure cases, homeowners are going head to head with the lawyers who file claims on behalf of entities on the basis of fabricated and/or forged instruments that in many cases were also recorded in county records. Lawyers like Dan Khwaja in Illinois are getting clearer and clearer about it. They hire experts who understand exactly how the notes are mechanically created and the endorsements are not real signatures.

The key question is why would the notes have been fabricated and forged when there actually was a closing and a note was actually signed? We’re talking about the financial industry whose reputation depends upon safeguarding all signed documents. If they didn’t safeguard the documents and instead destroyed them or “lost” them, why was that allowed to happen?

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So we have a case in Illinois where lawyers filed a judicial foreclosure on behalf of Bank of New York/Mellon (BONY) as trustee (i.e. representative of) “holders” of certificates. The lawyers attach a copy of a note and indorsements. Khwaja hired an expert who found quite definitively that the note and the endorsements were all fabricated (forged). Khwaja has filed a motion for summary judgment.

Here is my analysis:

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The lawyers who filed the claim have a serious problem. If they cannot convince the judge that they have no need to respond they are dead in the water. They must either pay someone to commit perjury or seek to amend with an actual original note. In view of prior studies that show that most (or at least half) of all notes were “lost or destroyed” immediately following the “closing” combined with your expert on hand, coming up with the original note is not an option.
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And that brings us to the question of “why?” If there really was a closing at which the borrower signed documents, why do they need fabricated documents? To me, the answer is simple. In order to sell the same loan multiple times they needed to convert from actual to imaged documents. The actual one had to disappear. And the handful of megabanks who had a virtual monopoly on tens of millions of mortgage transactions made it “custom and practice” to use images rather than actual documents. [This practice has spilled over to property sale contracts where neither party gets an original].
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And we have the additional issue which is presented by the foreclosure complaint. It says that BONY appears on behalf of the holders of certificates. The simple question is “so what?”
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Being holders of certificates means nothing. It leaves out any assertion that the holders of the certificates are owners of the certificates, or anything that might identify those “holders”. So the proceeds of foreclosure could then go to whoever was chosen by the parties actually pulling the strings.
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They are asking the court to fill in the blanks. They want the court to draw an inference without ever stating the fact to be inferred, to wit: the holders of the certificates are owners of the certificates who are therefore owners of the debt, note and mortgage. There simply is no such allegation nor any exhibit indicating that is true. The reason is that it is not true.
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So who is really the Plaintiff? Supposedly not BONY who is appearing in a representative capacity.
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If “sanctions” were applied against the “Plaintiff” BONY would claim it is not the actual party and that the unidentified “holders” of certificates are the proper party or perhaps an implied trust.
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So then is it the certificate holders, represented by BONY? But they don’t have any right, title or interest to the subject debt, note or mortgage. The prospectus and certificate indentures make that abundantly clear in most cases.
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Examining what happens after a foreclosure is “successful” provides clues. Neither BONY nor any certificate holder ever receives the actual money from the proceeds of the purported sale of the property.
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So who does?
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As the one party with actual control over the loan receivable, the investment bank that created the “securitization” scheme is the only party that comes close to being an actual creditor. But here is their problem: that loan receivable has been sold multiple times. This not only leaves them with no claim to the debt, but a surplus of funds over and above the amount due on what was the loan receivable. It’s basic accounting and bookkeeping. And if that were not true the banks would not be doing it.
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So in the real world it is the investment bank that gets the proceeds of a foreclosure sale. But they do it as the “Master Servicer” of an implied (and nonexistent) trust. The money simply disappears.
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In order to get away with selling the debt multiple times they had to make each sale a non recourse sale. And they did that. So the buyers of the debt, note and mortgage had no actual legal title to the debt, note and mortgage and no recourse to the borrower to collect on the unpaid debt.
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THAT leaves NOBODY as owner of a debt that has probably been extinguished and reveals the paper issued to buyers/investors as essentially the issuance of cash equivalent instruments (also known as currency). And THAT is the reason the banks, after  two decades of this nonsense, have yet to come to court and simply say “here is proof of our funding of the origination or purchase of the debt, note and mortgage.”
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If they did, they would be admitting to lying in millions of foreclosure cases over at least a 15 year period of time. Their scheme effectively concentrated the risk of loss on investors and borrowers while literally retaining all the benefits of supposed loan transactions for the sole benefit of the intermediaries, who then leveraged loans multiple times.
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This translates as follows: the money taken from investors is an unsecured liability of the investment bank. To be sure that has a value — but not a value derived from loans to homeowners. THAT value was taken by the investment bank who cashed in on it already.
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Note: For certain second tier investment bankers there were transition periods in which they were at actual risk. Examples include Lehman and Bear Stearns. But the top tier was able to sell forward on the certificates and never commit a single dime of their own money into the securitization scheme even in transition. But by pointing to Lehman and Bear Stearns they were able to convince policy makers that they were in the same position. This produced the “bailout” which was essentially the payment of even more money for losses that did not exist.
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In an odd twist of irony, Wells Fargo was the only party (2009) that admitted to no loss but was forced to take bailout money so that other “less fortunate” parties would not be singled out as weak institutions.
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In truth the AIG bailout and similar bailouts were merely payments of extra profits to Goldman Sachs and some other players, leaving investors and borrowers stranded with nearly worthless investments and collapsed markets for both homes, whose prices had been inflated by over 100% over value, and a nonexistent market for the bogus certificates that the Fed chose to revive by its purchasing program of “mortgage bonds” that were neither bonds nor backed by mortgages.
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Despite the complexity of all this, on a certain level most people understand that the banks caused the misery of the meltdown and profited from it.  They also understand that it is still happening. The failure of government to deal appropriately with the existential threat posed by the megabanks clearly played into and perhaps caused the social unrest around the world in the form of “populist” movements. And until governments deal with this issue head-on, people will be looking for political candidates who show that they are willing to take a wrecking ball to the banks and anyone who is protecting them.
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In the meanwhile, an increasing number of homeowners (again) are walking away from homes in the mistaken belief that they have an unpaid debt to the party named as the claimant against them.

Fear of Unraveling the Truth: Is the Fed Running Interference for the Banks

CHECK OUT OUR DECEMBER SPECIAL!

What’s the Next Step? Consult with Neil Garfield

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

Editor’s Comment and Analysis: AIG correctly decided not to try to bite the hand that saved it when it refused the demand of Hank Greenberg to join in his lawsuit against the government. Greenberg, some will recall, was forced out of AIG in a scandal in 2005.

Now AIG is attempting to open the door to suing banks besides the suit it already filed against Bank of America for selling them worthless trash instead of high rated bonds that were safe and verified. But the Fed created Maiden Lane II stands in the way even though it has already wound down its affairs.

The argument is that AIG transferred its litigation right to Maiden Lane. So the question is whether that was standard procedure and did the maiden Lane entities get such a transfer of litigation rights on ALL the debts that were  “contributed” to the Maiden Lane entities. While this particular suit has more to do with life insurance than mortgages, it has far reaching implications.

The questions raised by all these “transfers” is who transferred what to whom, when and what did the Maiden Lane entities actually get in terms of legal title to something. If they did get legal title to either the bogus mortgage bonds or the loans themselves, then why are there foreclosures in the name of other entities?

And if these entities were given the opportunity to dump the bad bonds or loans onto the Fed and be bailed out 100 cents on the dollar, then why is there any balance in any loan receivable account relating to the origination of ANY loan involved in the Fed transfers?

The can of worms covered over by the Maiden Lane transactions is deep and ugly. Similar transactions occurred all over Wall Street as some parties received 100 cents while others were left out in the cold — especially investors who put up the money to originate the financial transactions in the first place.

As a practice hint, I would say that you should inquire as to whether the subject loan is claimed to be part of an alleged investment pool that issued mortgage-backed bonds and which delivered ownership in indivisible shares in the underlying mortgages.

If yes, then you should inquire as to whether any or all of the bonds were the subject of a transfer to any of the Maiden Lane entities or some other party. This would jive with what I am told is the fact that more than 50% of the REMIC trusts have long since ceased existence in any way, manner, shape or form.

Then you should inquire as to whether the subject loan was included in said transfer and if so, the how? Assignment, indorsement, etc. And you should inquire about the amount of money received for the transfer, how and when it was paid and production of copies of said payment.

The point here is that the parties who are initiating the foreclosures are (a) complete strangers to the transaction having neither funded nor purchased the receivable or loan and (b) that even if they were at some point owners of the loan, they transferred it out for payment which mitigates the loss and the balance due on the loan receivable account. If Maiden Lane II is winding down as reported, where did the loans go from there? The answer from inside Wall Street was they were “re-securitized” into new trusts, all private label away from the sight of investors, borrowers and regulators.

In the end, the result I am after here is that the loan was paid down in whole or in part and the complexity of the way the banks were bailed out is not a license to receive yet another windfall. The parties who paid have a right of contribution and perhaps a right to foreclose the mortgages.

But without the identity of the current real creditor, compliance with HAMP and other programs is impossible because you need the injured party at the table.

A party who once held the receivable but was paid should not be receiving a second payment or a free house through foreclosure just because they have presented part of the deal. Discovery should include ALL of the deal, which is why the Master Servicer should be the target of your investigations including the parent investment banking firm.

Goldman and other banks are reporting record profits resulting not from lending but from trading activity, which is the way I have said from the beginning that they would repatriate the money they stole is increments so that the value of their stock would appear to be worth more and more.

But think about it. What other managed fund is getting such bountiful results? Answer: NONE. That indicates to me that the proprietary trading is a ruse in which the banks are claiming profits derived from trading with funds obtained illegally and parked off shore. By controlling the transactions end to end, they can simply set the amount of profits they want to report and continue on for a long time considering estimates of anywhere from $3-$10 trillion that has been siphoned out of the world economy and for which there has been no accounting or accountability.

These are funds that SHOULD be credited to investors and the loan receivable accounts of borrowers.

A.I.G. Seeks Approval to File More Bank Suits

By

Since the summer of 2011, the insurance giant American International Group has been battling Bank of America over claims that the bank packaged and sold it defective mortgages that dealt A.I.G. billions of dollars in losses.

Now A.I.G. wants to be able to sue other banks that sold it mortgage-backed securities that plunged in value during the financial crisis. It has not said which banks, but possibilities include Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase.

But to sue, A.I.G. first must win a court fight with an entity controlled by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, which the insurer says is blocking its efforts to pursue the banks that caused it financial harm.

The dispute illustrates the web of financial instruments that A.I.G. and the federal government became tangled in as the insurer nearly collapsed in 2008 and required a vast taxpayer bailout. It also shows the complexity of apportioning blame, five years after the financial crisis, and making wrongdoers pay for their share of the harm.

According to a lawsuit filed Friday, A.I.G. is seeking a declaration from a New York state judge that it has the right to pursue “billions of dollars of fraud and other tort claims that exist against numerous financial institutions,” even though Fed officials have said A.I.G. gave up that right.

“If I were the general counsel of A.I.G., I would seek this kind of declaratory judgment,” said Henry T. C. Hu, a former regulator who is now a professor at the University of Texas School of Law. “I don’t know whether I’d win, but it’s certainly worth trying.”

Much of A.I.G.’s rescue was needed because it didn’t have money in 2008 to cover guarantees that it sold banks in case the complex securities in their portfolios defaulted. But the latest dispute centers on a less familiar part of the bailout — the part in which reserves were removed from A.I.G.’s life insurance units and replaced with what turned out to be troubled mortgage securities.

The securitized housing loans lost value so fast when the bubble burst that some of A.I.G.’s life insurers risked being shut down by state insurance regulators. The Fed stepped in instead, and A.I.G.’s current lawsuit centers on the relationship that formed between the insurer and its rescuer as a result.

The Fed paid about $44 billion to extricate A.I.G.’s life insurance units from soured trades, and set up a special entity, Maiden Lane II, to buy the plunging mortgage securities for $20.8 billion. Those securities had an original face value of $39.3 billion.

Maiden Lane II is the sole defendant in A.I.G.’s lawsuit. The complaint says that at the moment Maiden Lane II bought the securities, it locked the insurance units into an $18 billion loss — the difference between the securities’ face value and their price in late 2008, arguably the bottom of the market. A.I.G. attributes a large chunk of its losses to the mortgage securities that it bought from Bank of America. It sued the bank for $10 billion in August 2011.

But one of Bank of America’s defenses is that A.I.G. lacks standing, having given its litigation rights to Maiden Lane II.

Last month, for instance, two senior Fed officials submitted declarations saying they believed that as part of the sale of assets to Maiden Lane II, A.I.G. had agreed not to go after any of the banks.

That prompted A.I.G. to file its suit, arguing that when it sold the tainted assets to Maiden Lane II, it did yield some litigation rights, but not the ones giving it the right to bring fraud complaints against the banks that put the securities together.

A.I.G. said those banks had misled its life insurance and money management businesses regarding the quality of the securities, and “obtained artificially high credit ratings” so the securities would pass the life insurers’ investment rules.

A.I.G.’s lawsuit is separate from one that until late last week it considered joining, which argued that the New York Fed acted unconstitutionally during the bailout, harming the insurer’s shareholders.

That lawsuit was filed in 2011 by Maurice R. Greenberg, a former chief executive of A.I.G. and a major shareholder. Mr. Greenberg had hoped the company would join the lawsuit, but the possibility that A.I.G. would sue its rescuer drew sharp criticism and A.I.G.’s board decided against it.

The new suit isn’t seeking financial compensation from the Fed.

The New York Fed, which has sole control of Maiden Lane II, declined to discuss the matter and has not yet responded to the complaint. A hearing on the arguments in the Bank of America case is scheduled for Jan. 29 in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

A.I.G. did not name other banks it would take action against, but it bought mortgage-backed securities from banks that included Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs and Bear Stearns, which was acquired during the financial crisis by JPMorgan. Much of the securities were sold to A.I.G. by Lehman Brothers, which collapsed in September 2008.

A.I.G. watchers are intrigued by the newest chapter of the story.

“A.I.G. has a credible claim that they’re pursuing aggressively,” said Michael J. Aguirre, a San Diego lawyer who is representing a California couple who argue the Fed was bilked when it bailed out A.I.G. “The question now is how aggressive the Fed is going to be on pushing back.”

“Is the government going to say, ‘We’re not pursuing these claims, but we’re not going to let anybody else pursue them either — we’re just going to let the banks walk away with fraud profits?’ ” he added.

Although it received relatively little scrutiny, the life insurance part of A.I.G.’s bailout was costlier than the better-known part involving A.I.G.’s Financial Products unit, which sold the notorious guarantees, known as credit-default swaps.

In 2011, A.I.G. tried to buy back the entire pool of mortgage securities from Maiden Lane II, but its offer, about $15 billion, was rejected.

Subsequently other bidders acquired all the assets, and last February the New York Fed announced it had made a $2.8 billion profit on its roughly $20 billion investment in the rescue entity. Terms of the bailout called for it to give one-sixth of any profit to A.I.G.

Maiden Lane II no longer holds any of the mortgage securities and is winding down its affairs.

Are You Kidding? AIG to Join Suit Against Goverment for Bailout Terms

CHECK OUT OUR DECEMBER SPECIAL!

What’s the Next Step? Consult with Neil Garfield

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

Editor’s Comment: It is a total farce. Companies that were supposedly saved from the brink of bankruptcy and shame, who played a part in defrauding investors and homeowners across the world are now suing their savior and protector. The people who sit on the Board of Directors of these companies are sitting in a bubble of pure fiction. Yet AIG is now considering the lawsuit as a channel by which they can get even more money from the U.S. Taxpayers and cause even more damage to the U.S. economy.

Greenberg, the head of AIG has had the lawsuit going on for a while now saying, on behalf of himself as a shareholders and on behalf of other shareholders that the onerous terms placed on AIG deprived shareholders of value without due process!

Now AIG itself is thinking of joining the lawsuit because if Greenberg wins then the Board could be liable for failure to act.

“Thank you America” has been advertised by AIG since the bailout. I would now add THANK YOU to Greenberg and AIG for bringing up the one thing that Judges don’t want to hear from investors or shareholders — due process under the 5th and 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Besides being spectacularly hypocritical, ungrateful and greedy, Greenberg and AIG have become the new poster boy for Wall Street arrogance. They have also opened the door to consideration of non-judicial foreclosure, as applied, and judicial foreclosure, as applied, in the absence of any proof of payment and standing as a creditor with rights to submit a credit bid at auction.

In the non-judicial states the “private contract” has allowed actions of controlled trustees on deeds of trust appointed by non-creditors in a document common to all loans subject to false claims of securitization (substitution of trustee). The notice of default and notice of sale take the place of a judicial foreclosure — but they are false and we know they are false. The same parties filing a judicial foreclosure would lose.

In both judicial states and all judicial actions the courts have made the assumption that the debt is valid (not true as to the party filing) the default is real (not if the payment isn’t due to the actual creditor who continues receiving payments after notice of default), the note is proper and presumptive evidence of payment or funding of the loan by the payee (almost never true) and that an assignment is presumptive evidence of the sale without proof of payment. The requirement that the party seeking affirmative relief (the forecloser) actually prove a case rather proffer it has been discarded.

There is nothing wrong with the statutes in the judicial states but the non-judicial states have opened a hole of moral hazard the size of the Grand Canyon. And where moral hazard is present, the banks are not far behind. In this case AIG took advantage of the receipt of fees for insurance of bogus mortgage bonds; their failure to perform due diligence and verify the validity of the bonds and the non-existent mortgages that “backed” the bonds was either intentional or negligent. They had insured more than they were worth and that was either intentional or negligent. The government came in, paid off the insurance contracts, and then gave the company back to AIG shareholders when it was “healthy.”

AIG has already sued Goldman on the same facts. The insurance contracts expressly waived any right to go after the borrowers. In most insurance contracts subrogation it is expressly assumed and allowed. The reason for this anomaly was that the banks were able to get 100 cents on the dollar of a loss they never had and they refused to give up a penny of it to the investors they had defrauded or the borrowers whose loan balances would have and should have been correspondingly reduced. What a deal! The investors lose their money, the insurers lose their money, the borrowers don’t get credit for the pay-down of their loans and the bank, claiming the loss to be their own, get the insurance, federal bailout money and the proceeds of credit default swaps.

When I practiced law I learned the hard way that demanding and getting more than your client should get will get you reversed on appeal on the basis that the evidence doesn’t support the verdict or judgment. In lay language, if you are going to be a pig about it, expect to be cooked.

These developments are upside down. AIG should be thanking the American people for the next 100 years and perhaps learning a few things of the due diligence expected of them. Instead, in our litigious society, the lawyers think they have created a long shot of getting billions of dollars more FROM the American taxpayer instead of FOR the American taxpayer.

Many of us were taught as children that there is no free ride. Now we hear there will not be a free house for homeowners whose loan balance has been paid in full. The assumption is that debt is correctly stated and the creditor is correctly identified when neither assumption is true. But the bigger assumption is that all borrowers are either deadbeats or potential deadbeats and that just isn’t true either.

And worst of all, you have AIG et al tying up the government process with a discovery demand of 16 million documents — opening yet another door for those practicing under the rubric of Deny and Discover. Don’t shy away from asking for what you want and nail down the money trail with demands for canceled checks, wire transfer and ACH receipts. And where a judge accepts a proffer instead of proof, call him or her out on it. That’s where due process comes in. Due process doesn’t promise justice but it does promise a hearing in accordance with required notice and an opportunity to be heard. At that hearing the burden is always on the party seeking affirmative relief (foreclosure). Once it comes down to real proof instead of proffers, it is the banks who reveal themselves as pigs to be cooked.

Deny the whole transaction because there was no payment or funding alleged and no payment or funding proven. That is because investors supplied the money thinking that they were buying into REMICs. They didn’t. Investor money was commingled from all investors in accounts that were layered over with false documentation to give the investor the impression he was the owner of a bona fide mortgage backed bond issued by a REMIC trust. In fact the pension fund investor owned nothing and had merely loaned the money to the investment banker who played with it and created the appearance of trading profits and fees and expenses and then funding bad mortgages in REMIC tranches where the investment banker could torpedo the whole thing, collect insurance, CDS proceeds and federal bailouts.

The government has been reluctant to get into the complexity of these fictitious transactions. Now that they are being sued, they might well be forced to do the digging they should have done in the first place. So Thank You again Mr. Greenberg!

Rescued by a Bailout, A.I.G. May Sue Its Savior

By BEN PROTESS and MICHAEL J. DE LA MERCED
NY Times

Fresh from paying back a $182 billion bailout, the American International Group Inc. has been running a nationwide advertising campaign with the tagline “Thank you America.”

Behind the scenes, the restored insurance company is weighing whether to tell the government agencies that rescued it during the financial crisis: thanks, but you cheated our shareholders.

The board of A.I.G. will meet on Wednesday to consider joining a $25 billion shareholder lawsuit against the government, court records show. The lawsuit does not argue that government help was not needed. It contends that the onerous nature of the rescue — the taking of what became a 92 percent stake in the company, the deal’s high interest rates and the funneling of billions to the insurer’s Wall Street clients — deprived shareholders of tens of billions of dollars and violated the Fifth Amendment, which prohibits the taking of private property for “public use, without just compensation.”

Maurice R. Greenberg, A.I.G.’s former chief executive, who remains a major investor in the company, filed the lawsuit in 2011 on behalf of fellow shareholders. He has since urged A.I.G. to join the case, a move that could nudge the government into settlement talks.

The choice is not a simple one for the insurer. Its board members, most of whom joined after the bailout, owe a duty to shareholders to consider the lawsuit. If the board does not give careful consideration to the case, Mr. Greenberg could challenge its decision to abstain.

Should Mr. Greenberg snare a major settlement without A.I.G., the company could face additional lawsuits from other shareholders. Suing the government would not only placate the 87-year-old former chief, but would put A.I.G. in line for a potential payout.

Yet such a move would almost certainly be widely seen as an audacious display of ingratitude. The action would also threaten to inflame tensions in Washington, where the company has become a byword for excessive risk-taking on Wall Street.

Some government officials are already upset with the company for even seriously entertaining the lawsuit, people briefed on the matter said. The people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, noted that without the bailout, A.I.G. shareholders would have fared far worse in bankruptcy.

“On the one hand, from a corporate governance perspective, it appears they’re being extra cautious and careful,” said Frank Partnoy, a former banker who is now a professor of law and finance at the University of San Diego School of Law. “On the other hand, it’s a slap in the face to the taxpayer and the government.”

For its part, A.I.G. has seized on the significance and complexity of the case, which is filed in both New York and Washington. A federal judge in New York dismissed the case, while the Washington court allowed it to proceed.

“The A.I.G. board of directors takes its fiduciary duties and business judgment responsibilities seriously,” said a spokesman, Jon Diat.

On Wednesday, the case will command the spotlight for several hours at A.I.G.’s Lower Manhattan headquarters.

Mr. Greenberg’s company, Starr International, will begin with a 45-minute presentation to the board, according to people briefed on the matter. Mr. Greenberg is expected to attend, they added.

It will be an unusual homecoming of sorts for Mr. Greenberg, who ran A.I.G. for nearly four decades until resigning amid investigations into an accounting scandal in 2005. For some years after his abrupt departure, there was bitterness and litigation between the company and its former chief.

After the Starr briefing on Wednesday, lawyers for the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York — the architects of the bailout and defendants in the cases — will make their presentations. Each side will have a few minutes to rebut.

While the discussions are part of an already scheduled board meeting, securities lawyers say it is rare for an entire board to meet on a single piece of litigation.

“It makes eminent good sense in this case, but I’ve never heard of this kind of situation,” said Henry Hu, a former regulator who is now a professor at the University of Texas School of Law in Austin.

It is unclear whether the directors are leaning toward joining the case. The board said in a court filing that it would probably decide by the end of January.

Until now, the insurance giant has sat on the sidelines. But its delay in making a decision, some officials say, has drawn out the case, forcing the government to pay significant legal costs.

The presentations on Wednesday come on top of hundreds of pages of submissions that the government prepared last year, a time-consuming and costly process. The Justice Department, which assigned about a dozen lawyers to the case and hired outside experts, told a judge handling the matter that Starr was seeking 16 million pages in documents from the government.

“How many?” the startled judge, Thomas C. Wheeler, asked, according to a transcript.

Struck just days after the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September 2008, the bailout of A.I.G. proved to be among the biggest and thorniest of the financial crisis rescues. The company was on the brink of collapse because of deteriorating mortgage securities that it had insured through credit-default swaps.

Starting in 2010, the insurer embarked on a series of moves aimed at repaying its taxpayer-financed bailout, including selling major divisions. It also held a number of stock offerings for the government to reduce its stake, which eventually generated a roughly $22 billion profit.

Overseeing that comeback was a new chief executive, Robert H. Benmosche, a tough-talking longtime insurance executive. Mr. Benmosche has won plaudits, including from government officials, for his managing of A.I.G.’s public relations even as he helped nurse the company back to financial health.

But he and the rest of A.I.G.’s board must now confront an equally pugnacious predecessor in Mr. Greenberg.

In the case against the government, Mr. Greenberg, through his lead lawyer, David Boies, contends that the bailout plan extracted a “punitive” interest rate of more than 14 percent. The government’s huge stake in the company also diluted the holdings of existing shareholders like Starr, which at the time was A.I.G.’s largest investor.

“The government has been saying, ‘We’re your friend, we owned and controlled you and we let you go.’ But A.I.G. doesn’t owe loyalty to the government,” a person close to Mr. Greenberg said. “It owes loyalty to its shareholders.”

The government, Starr argues, used billions of dollars from A.I.G. to settle credit-default swaps the insurer had with banks like Goldman Sachs. The deal, according to the lawsuit, empowered the government to carry out a “backdoor bailout” of Wall Street.

Starr argued that the actions violated the Fifth Amendment. “The government is not empowered to trample shareholder and property rights even in the midst of a financial emergency,” the Starr complaint says.

The Treasury Department declined to comment. A spokesman for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Jack Gutt, said, “There is no merit to these allegations.” He noted that “A.I.G.’s board of directors had an alternative choice to borrowing from the Federal Reserve, and that choice was bankruptcy.”

A federal judge in Manhattan agreed, dismissing the case in November. In an 89-page opinion, Judge Paul A. Engelmayer wrote that while Starr’s complaint “paints a portrait of government treachery worthy of an Oliver Stone movie,” the company “voluntarily accepted the hard terms offered by the one and only rescuer that stood between it and imminent bankruptcy.”

The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit recently agreed to review the case on an expedited timeline. The judge in the United States Court of Federal Claims in Washington, meanwhile, has declined to dismiss the case and continues to await A.I.G.’s decision.

BOA Deathwatch: $2.43 Billion Settlement — Tip of the Iceberg

“If we know with certainty that misrepresentation to investors lies at the heart of the so-called securitization scheme, why is it so hard for Judges and lawyers to believe that misrepresentation to homeowners lies at the heart of the origination of the loans that were the most important part of the securitization scheme? In fact, why is it so hard for Judges and Lawmakers and Regulators to conceive and believe that Wall Street didn’t securitize the loans at all and only pretended to do so?” — Neil F Garfield, livinglies.me

EDITOR’S ANALYSIS: The settlement sounds big, but Bank of America has already announced that it had “put aside” another $42 billion for the defective acquisitions of Merrill Lynch, an underwriter in the fake securitization scheme, and Countrywide, a sham aggregator of residential mortgage loans.

The facts keep getting reported, but nobody seems to question the meaning of those facts or their consequences. The Wall Street Journal reports that dozens of lawsuits are still pending against BOA from insurers, credit default swap counter-parties and investor-lenders, each alleging that “countrywide wasn’t honest about the quality of mortgage backed securities it issued before the financial crisis. While it is true that pressure was exerted from Hank Paulson to make sure that BOA acquired Merrill and Countrywide to prevent a general financial collapse (you won’t have an economy by Monday if we don’t step in” (quote from Paulson and Bernanke to President George W Bush, it is equally true that BOA management pronounced the deals as the “deal of a lifetime.”

The very fact that BOA failed to peak under the hood before buying the car is ample corroboration of the handshake mentality being leveraged against each other as Banks scrambled to the top of the heap without concern for either their own companies or the country. Their lack of concern for their companies comes from the fact that they were receiving cash bonuses of pornographic size while those acquisitions went sour. Back in the days when management of the investment banks required general partnerships in which the partners could be personally liable, none of this could have happened. If the Bank fell, management didn’t care because they would still be rich whereas in the old days they would have been wiped out.

The settlement announced on Friday gives a very small percentage of money back to investor lenders and shareholders in the bank, both of which consist of groups of people who were largely investing for retirement. Next year, the writing on the wall is clear as a bell: either pension benefits are going to be slashed or there will be another major government bailout of the pension funds, some of which is already provided by law in government guarantees.

Either way, the people are going to be screaming at a continuation of an endless financial crisis that could be stopped on a dime by one simple magic bullet: admitting that the mortgage bonds were pure trash backed by no loans, and thus paving the way for the removal of the “mortgages” or Deeds of trust” that were recorded to secure the loans. But nobody wants to do that because ideology is still controlling the policies and the practical consequences of those policies is that more undeserving banks will be getting free homes for which they neither funded the origination nor the acquisition of the loans because the “originator” was never the lender.

Politically, the Banks are losing traction as representatives of both major political parties step away from the Banks, even while accepting huge donations from them. It is clear that the candidates who are receiving huge donations are probably bound by promises to back the banking industry as they desperate try to avoid the correct legal conclusion that virtually none of the loans were made payable to the lender, and none of the mortgages or deeds of trust were secured by a perfected lien.

It isn’t just that the the loan losses will fall on the Banks that were pulling the strings on the puppets at closings with the investors and closings with the homeowners; their real problems stem from the false claim that they were are holding valuable paper (mortgage backed bonds) whose value would not survive the worksheet of a first year auditor.

With only nominees on the note and mortgage and the obligation being owed to an as yet undefined group of investors whose money was used, contrary to written agreement and oral assurances, to be place bets at the window of the banks and hedge funds around the world and fund managers who were supposedly investing in triple A rated “Stable” securities that were “insured”, the investor lawsuits corroborate what we have been saying for 6 years: if the existing laws of property and contract are applied, neither the promissory note (at least 40% of which were intentionally destroyed) nor the mortgages (deeds of trust) are enforceable for collection or foreclosure.

The homeowner owes money to an undefined group of creditors, the balance of which is unknown because the Banks control the accounting and the accounting leaves out significant insurance proceeds, payments from credit default swap counter-parties, and federal buyouts and bailouts. The Banks are fighting to retain control of that accounting because if some third party starts auditing the money trail they are going to find that the “assets”  claimed by the banks are actually liabilities owed back to the parties that paid 100 cents on the dollar for the entire pool of mortgage bonds, none of which were actually backed by a legal obligation or an enforceable lien.

In short, if borrowers litigate they are fighting to get to the point where the banks and servicers are over a barrel and must settle — but only after making it as difficult as possible. Hence the strategy described in my seminars called “Deny and Discover”.

Because at the end of the day when  the number of cases won by borrowers exceeds the number of successful foreclosures (or perhaps far before that time) the assets are going to disappear and the liabilities are going to pop up in the banks. The consequence is that these banks will either have greatly diminished equity or negative equity — i.e., the BANKS will be Underwater! The FDIC and Federal reserve will thus be required to step in an “resolve these behemoth banks selling off the salable parts to smaller, manageable banks that are not so big they can’t be regulated.

As I survey the landscape, I see no hope for BOA, Citi, Chase or even Wells Fargo to survive the bloodbath that is coming, nor should they. The value of their stock will drop to worthless, which it is now anyway but not recognized, and the value of those regional or community banks and credit unions that pick up the pieces will correspondingly rise. The loans will vanish because the investors have no practical way of determining whose money went into any particular loan; the reason for that is that the money trail avoids the document trail like the plague. There were not trust accounts or other financial accounts in the name of the empty pools that issued the worthless mortgage bonds.

This is where ideology, law and practicality clash because of a lack of understanding of the consequences. The homeowners are getting a house not “free” but unencumbered by the originators who faked them out with false payees, false lenders and false secured parties. But the tax code already takes care of that. This isn’t forgiveness of debt. This reduction, in fact possibly overpayment of the debt was caused by the banks trading with investor money as though the money and the loans were the property of the banks, which they were not.

The effect on homeowners is that they will be required to recognize “income” from the elimination of the obligation, which is taxable and subject to Federal tax liens. The amount of that lien or obligation will be far less than the amount of the original loan, but the government will receive a portion of the savings through taxes, the investor-lenders will be compensated as the megabanks are resolved, and the crisis caused by a disappearing middle class will be over.

That will give us time to devote our attention to student loans and those “Defaults” which were also subject to false claims of securitization and in which the government guarantee was supposedly divided up without government consent as the originator, not caring about loan repayment, pushed students into larger and larger loans. What the participants in THAT fake securitization chain don’t realize is that under existing applicable law, it is my opinion that an election was made: either they had a loan receivable on the books for which there could be government guarantee, or they could reduce the risk by splitting the loans up into pieces and get paid handsomely for simply originating the loan. Simple logic says that the banks could not have both the guarantee from the government PLUS the elimination for risk through securitization in table funded loans that most probably also ignored the closing documents with investor lenders who advanced money for pools in which student loans were supposedly “assigned.”

Banks Trying to Get Bill Through Congress Protecting MERS

Editor’s Comment: It is no small wonder that the banks are scared. After all they created MERS and they control MERS and many of them own MERS. The Washington Supreme Court ruling leaves little doubt that MERS is a sham, leaving even less doubt that an industry is sprouting up for wrongful foreclosure in which trillions of dollars are at stake.

The mortgages that were used for foreclosure are, in my opinion, and in the opinion of a growing number of courts and lawyers and regulatory agencies around the country, State and Federal, were fatally defective and that leads to the conclusion that (1) the foreclosures can be overturned and (2) millions of dollars in damages might be payable to those homeowners who were foreclosed and evicted from homes they legally owned.

But the problem for the megabanks is even worse than that. If the mortgages were defective (deeds of trust in some states), then the money collected by the banks from insurance, credit default swaps, federal bailouts and buyouts and other hedge instruments pose an enormous liability to the large banks that promulgated this scam known as securitization where the last thing they had in mind was securitization. In many cases, the loans were effectively sold multiple times thus creating a liability not only to the borrower that illegally had his home seized but a geometrically higher liability to other financial institutions and governments and investors for selling them toxic waste.

There is a reason that that the bailout is measured at $17 trillion and it isn’t because those are losses caused by defaults in mortgages which appear to total less than 10% of that amount. The total of ALL mortgages during that period that are subject to claims of securitization (false claims, in my opinion) was only $13 trillion. So why was the $17 trillion bailout $4 trillion more than all the mortgages put together, most of which are current on their payments?

The reason is that some bets went well, in which case the banks kept the profits and didn’t tell the investors about it even though it was investor with which money they were betting.

If the loan went sour, or the Master Servicer, in its own interest, declared that the value of the pool had been diminished by a higher than expected default rate, then the insurance contract and credit default contract REQUIRED payment even though most of the loans were intact. Of course we now know that the loans were probably never in the pools anyway.

The bets that ended up in losses were tossed over the fence at the Federal Government and the bets that were “good” ended up with the insurers (AIG, AMBAC) having to pay out more money than they were worth. Enter the Federal Government again to make up the difference where the banks collected 100 cents on the dollar, didn’t tell the investors and declared the loans in default anyway and then proceeded to foreclose.

The banks’ answer to this knotty problem is predictable. Overturn the Washington Supreme Court case and others like it appellate and trial courts around the country by having Congress declare that the MERS transactions were valid. The biggest hurdle they must overcome is not a paperwork problem —- it is a money problem.

In many if not most cases, neither MERS nor the named payee on the note nor the “lender” identified on the note and mortgage had loaned any money at all. Even the banks are saying that the loans are owned by the “Trusts” but it now appears as though the trusts were never funded by either money or loans and that there were no bank accounts or any other accounts for those pools.

That leaves nothing but nominees for unidentified parties in all the blank spaces on the note and mortgage, whose terms were different than the payback provisions promised to the investor lenders. And THAT means that much of the assets carried on the books of the banks are simply worthless and non-existent AND that there is a liability associated with those transactions that is geometrically higher than the false assets that the banks are reporting.

So the question comes down to this: will Congress try to save MERS? (I.e., will they try to save the banks again with a legal bailout?). Will the effort even be constitutional since it deals with property required to be governed under States’ rights under the constitution or are we going to forget the Constitution and save the banks at all costs?

When you cast your ballot in November, remember to look at the candidates you are considering. If they are aligned with the banks, we can expect slashed pension benefits next year along with a whole new round of housing and economic decline.

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Pension Fund Bangs Goldman for $26.6 Million

Editor’s Note: The allegation was that the Pension Fund was misled into buying securities backed by risky mortgages from the now defunct New Century Financial.

The importance of this is that it corroborates what we have been saying all along. The pension funds were required by law to invest in “stable” funds which means in Wall Street parlance — investments that have very little risk. Goldman came to them with what appeared to be Triple A rated inured investments with a higher return than what the pension fund could get elsewhere from similar investments. The proposal was an outright lie and Goldman knew it. The only thing that the Pension Fund missed was an opportunity to get punitive damages. It is possible that the pension fund managers had a relationship with Goldman that might have raised questions about whether the fraud could be proved.

But there is no doubt who funded those loans — the Pension Fund. So there is no doubt that whoever was named on the promissory note and mortgage was a naked nominee at best and probably just a regular bad country lie. And there is also no doubt that the terms and quality of the loan were DIFFERENT from the terms and quality proposed to the borrower. Thus we have a mismatch: the terms and names of the principals in the transaction were changed to allow Goldman to trade the loans and resell them as “temporary” owner of the loans while the Pension Fund was left high and dry on the actual lender.

No mortgage broker originator has been punished or sued for giving those bad loans to to Goldman, because Goldman knew the loans were bad and in fact counted on it: they were betting the loans would fail. But just for good measure they included language in the tranche terms that made it certain that they, as Master Servicer, could pull the rug out from the Pension Fund by simply declaring that the level of defaults resulted in a write-down or wipe-out of the investment. Then Goldman made a claim on AIG et al, for proceeds of insurance and credit default swaps payable to Goldman instead of the Pension Fund.

So there was no meeting of the minds, in lawyer speak, between the borrower (homeowner) and the lender (Pension Fund). The note was void because the party identified as the lender was not the lender at all. And it was void because it recited different terms than what the lender thought would be in the loans. Therefore, the mortgage lien was never perfected because it was securing the faithful performance of a note, under which no performance was required — the borrower did not intend to pay a party from whom he had received no loan.

The borrower had intended to pay the real lender, not the party named on the note and mortgage who had neither funded nor purchased the loan. The lender had intended to own a piece of high quality loans that together constituted a stable fund. They were both fooled.

Now here is the kicker: since there was no meeting of the minds, common law takes over. The terms of the loan have yet to be resolved. One thing is fairly sure at this point, which is that the obligation to the lender has not been secured.

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It’s Down to Banks vs Society

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We are trying to rescue the creditors and restart the world that is dominated by the creditors. We have to rescue the debtors instead before we are going to see the end of this process. — Economist Steve Keen

Bankers Are Willing to Let Society Crash In Order to Make More Money

Editor’s Comment: 

I was reminded last night of a comment from a former bond trader and mortgage bundler that the conference calls are gleeful about the collapse of economies and societies around the world. Wall Street will profit greatly on both the down side and then later when asset prices go so low that housing falls under distressed housing programs and 125% loans become available in bulk. They think this is all just swell. I don’t.

The obvious intent on the part of the mega banks and servicers is to bring everything down with a crash using every means possible. When you look at the offers state and federal government programs have offered for the banks to modify, when you see the amount of money poured into these banks by our federal government in order to prop them up, you cannot conclude otherwise: they want our society to end up closed down not only by foreclosure but in any other way possible. They withhold credit from everyone except the insider’s club.

So now it is up to us. Either we take the banks apart or they will take us apart. I had a recent look at many modification proposals. In the batch I saw, the average offer from the homeowner was to accept a loan 20%-30% higher than fair market value and 50%-75% higher than foreclosure is producing. It seems we are addicted to the belief that this can’t be true because no reasonable person would act like that. But the answer is that the system is rigged so that the intermediaries (the megabanks) control what the investors and homeowners see and hear, they make far more money on foreclosures than they do on modifications, and they make far money on all the “bets” about the failure of the loan by foreclosing and not modifying.

The reason for the unreasonable behavior, as it appears, is that it is perfectly reasonable in a lending environment turned on its head — where the object was to either fund a loan that was sure to fail, or keep a string attached that would declare it as part of a failed “pool” that would trigger insurance and swaps payments.Steve Keen: Why 2012 Is Shaping Up To Be A Particularly Ugly Year

At the high level, our global economic plight is quite simple to understand says noted Australian deflationist Steve Keen.

Banks began lending money at a faster rate than the global economy grew, and we’re now at the turning point where we simply have run out of new borrowers for the ever-growing debt the system has become addicted to.

Once borrowers start eschewing rather than seeking debt, asset prices begin to fall — which in turn makes these same people want to liquidate their holdings, which puts further downward pressure on asset prices:

The reason that we have this trauma for the asset markets is because of this whole relationship that rising debt has to the level of asset market. If you think about the best example is the demand for housing, where does it come from? It comes from new mortgages. Therefore, if you want to sustain he current price level of houses, you have to have a constant flow of new mortgages. If you want the prices to rise, you need the flow of mortgages to also be rising.

Therefore, there is a correlation between accelerating and rising asset markets. That correlation applies very directly to housing. You look at the 20-year period of the market relationship from 1990 to now; the correlation of accelerating mortgage debt with changing house prices is 0.8. It is a very high correlation.

Now, that means that when there is a period where private debt is accelerating you are generally going to see rising asset markets, which of course is what we had up to 2000 for the stock market and of course 2006 for the housing market. Now that we have decelerating debt — so debt is slowing down more rapidly at this time rather than accelerating — that is going to mean falling asset markets.

Because we have such a huge overhang of debt, that process of debt decelerating downwards is more likely to rule most of the time. We will therefore find the asset markets traumatizing on the way down — which of course encourages people to get out of debt. Therefore, it is a positive feedback process on the way up and it is a positive feedback process on the way down.

He sees all of the major countries of the world grappling with deflation now, and in many cases, focusing their efforts in exactly the wrong direction to address the root cause:

Europe is imploding under its own volition and I think the Euro is probably going to collapse at some stage or contract to being a Northern Euro rather than the whole of Euro. We will probably see every government of Europe be overthrown and quite possibly have a return to fascist governments. It came very close to that in Greece with fascists getting five percent of the vote up from zero. So political turmoil in Europe and that seems to be Europe’s fate.

I can see England going into a credit crunch year, because if you think America’s debt is scary, you have not seen England’s level of debt. America has a maximum ratio of private debt to GDP adjusted over 300%; England’s is 450%. America’s financial sector debt was 120% of GDP, England’s is 250%. It is the hot money capital of the western world.

And now that we are finally seeing decelerating debt over there plus the government running on an austerity program at the same time, which means there are two factors pulling on demand out of that economy at once. I think there will be a credit crunch in England, so that is going to take place as well.

America is still caught in the deleveraging process. It tried to get out, it seemed to be working for a short while, and the government stimulus seemed to certainly help. Now, that they are going back to reducing that stimulus, they are pulling up the one thing that was keeping the demand up in the American economy and it is heading back down again. We are now seeing the assets market crashing once more. That should cause a return to decelerating debt — for a while you were accelerating very rapidly and that’s what gave you a boost in employment —  so you are falling back down again.

Australia is running out of steam because it got through the financial crisis by literally kicking the can down the road by restarting the housing bubble with a policy I call the first-time vendors boost. Where they gave first time buyers a larger amount of money from the government and they handed over times five or ten to the people they bought the house off from the leverage they got from the banking sector. Therefore, that finally ran out for them.

China got through the crisis with an enormous stimulus package. I think in that case it is increasing the money supply by 28% in one year. That is setting off a huge property bubble, which from what I have heard from colleagues of mine is also ending.

Therefore, it is a particularly ugly year for the global economy and as you say, we are still trying to get business back to usual. We are trying to rescue the creditors and restart the world that is dominated by the creditors. We have to rescue the debtors instead before we are going to see the end of this process.

In order to successfully emerge on the other side of this this painful period with a more sustainable system, he believes the moral hazard of bailing out the banks is going to have end:

[The banks] have to suffer and suffer badly. They will have to suffer in such a way that in a decade they will be scared in order to never behave in this way again. You have to reduce the financial sector to about one third of its current size and we have to also ultimately set up financial institutions and financial instruments in such a way that it is no longer desirable from a public point of view to borrow and gamble in rising assets processes.

The real mistake we made was to let this gambling happen as it has so many times in the past, however, we let it go on for far longer than we have ever let it go on for before. Therefore, we have a far greater financial parasite and a far greater crisis.

And he offers an unconventional proposal for how this can be achieved:

I think the mistake [central banks] are going to make is to continue honoring debts that should never have been created in the first place. We really know that that the subprime lending was totally irresponsible lending. When it comes to saying “who is responsible for bad debt?” you have to really blame the lender rather than the borrower, because lenders have far greater resources to work out whether or not the borrower can actually afford the debt they are putting out there.

They were creating debt just because it was a way of getting fees, short-term profit, and they then sold the debt onto unsuspecting members of the public as well and securitized their way out of trouble. They ended up giving the hot potato to the public. So, you should not be honoring that debt, you should be abolishing it. But of course they have actually packaged a lot of that debt and sold it to the public as well, you cannot just abolish it, because you then would penalize people who actually thought they were being responsible in saving and buying assets.

Therefore, I am talking in favor of what I call a modern debt jubilee or quantitative easing for the public, where the central banks would create ‘central bank money’ (we cannot destroy or abolish the debt, which would also destroy the incomes of the people who own the bonds the banks have sold). We have to create the state money and give it to the public, but on condition that if you have any debt you have to pay your debt down — no choice. Therefore, if you have debt, you can reduce the debt level, but if you do not have debt, you get a cash injection.

Of course, this would then feed into the financial sector would have to reduce the value of the debts that it currently owns, which means income from debt instruments would also fall. So, people who had bought bonds for their retirement and so on would find that their income would go down, but on the other hand, they would be compensated by a cash injection.

The one part of the system that would be reduced in size is the financial sector itself. That is the part we have to reduce and we have to make smaller.  That is the one that I am putting forward and I think there is a very little chance of implementing it in America for the next few years not all my home country [Australia] because we still think we are doing brilliantly and all that. But, I think at some stage in Europe, and possibly in a very short time frame, that idea might be considered.

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