I have spent the last 7 years developing the narrative for an expert opinion that could be presented, believed and sustained in court. In writing to a probable new expert we will offer through the livinglies.store.com I summarized what attorneys should be looking for when they consult with an expert in structured finance (i.e., derivatives, securitization etc.).
Here are some of the issues you want covered by the expert declaration and testimony in court. The basic rule of thumb is that the expert must have both the qualifications to testify as an expert and a persuasive narrative of why his conclusions are right. Without both, the testimony of the expert simply doesn’t matter and will be rejected.
If you are a proposed expert in structured finance, then here is what I would want to know, and what I think lawyers should ask, depending upon what fact pattern is present in each case.
One thing I need to know is whether you feel comfortable in talking about the ownership and balance of the loan.
In one example American Brokers Conduit was the payee on the note and mortgage. We alleged that they didn’t loan the money. Our narrative ran something like this: if you ask me for a loan, and I respond “Yes just sign this note and mortgage” AND THEN you sign the note and mortgage AND THEN I don’t give you a loan, ARE YOU PREPARED TO SAY THAT THE NOTE AND MORTGAGE WERE DEFECTIVE IN A BASIC WAY, TO WIT: THAT THE SIGNATURE ON THE NOTE AND MORTGAGE WAS PROCURED BY FRAUD OR MISTAKE AND THAT WITHOUT THE IDENTIFICATION OF THE REAL CREDITOR BOTH INSTRUMENTS ARE DEFECTIVE.
Would you, as a reasonable business person accept a note purporting to be a negotiable instrument under the UCC if you knew that the transferor neither funded the loan nor (if they purport to be a successor) paid for the assignment?
What is your opinion of your position if you found out after acceptance of the note and mortgage that there was doubt as to whether the obligation was funded or purchased for value? What would you do or suggest to a client in either of those positions — (1) knowledge [or “must have known] or (2) no knowledge [and later finding out that there is doubt as to funding and purchasing for value]?
Are you prepared to say that the fact that the borrower actually did receive money as a loan from another different party does not create a circumstance where the borrower is construed to convey any rights to anyone other than the source of funds or someone in actual privity with the lender — and that both note and mortgage are defective under normal recording statutes — and certainly not a commitment by the debtor to BOTH the source of the funds and the receiver of the signed promissory note and mortgage?
In the one case referred to above, the corporate representative conceded that ABC didn’t loan the money. He was unable to explain what was transferred by ABC to Regents and from Regents to 1st Nationwide and thence to CitiCorp by merger. He admitted that “Fannie Mae was the investor from the start.” You and I understand that neither Fannie and Freddie are lenders. They are guarantors and they serve as Master Trustee for hidden REMIC trusts. (Do you know or agree with that assertion?)
But the question is whether the note is actual “evidence of the debt” (the black letter definition of a promissory note when it contains a promise to pay) when the creditor is identified as a party who was not a lender. In the absence of disclosures of some representative capacity for an actual lender, are you prepared to testify that the note is unenforceable even if the debt is otherwise enforceable in relation to the actual source of funds?
Or would you say that it is not enforceable by the stated payee but it might still be evidence of the debt and evidence of the terms of repayment to the third party source? How does the marketplace treat such questions in valuing a note and mortgage?
The question is whether the expert actually believes and is willing to argue that these conclusions are true and correct. The expert must earnestly believe these assertions to be true, logically and legally.Is it acceptable to the prospective expert to see a result where the application of law and facts results in the homeowner getting his home free and clear — on the basis that the wrong party sued him or initiated foreclosure (in non judicial states), or that the notice of default, notice of acceleration, and statements of money due were wrong.
The approach is an attack on ownership and balance. The balance would be wrong, even if the ownership was established, if the payments were not applied properly. The payments include all payments received by the creditor. That includes all servicer advances directly to trust beneficiaries, as well as insurance and loss sharing payments (i.e., from FDIC and others) paid and received on behalf of the investors directly or the trust beneficiaries.Part of the reasoning here is that you really have an interesting problem. The Trust beneficiaries agreed to “loan” money to a REMIC trust in exchange for a complex formula of repayment under the indenture of the mortgage bond (contained in the Prospectus and Pooling and Servicing Agreement). Those terms are different than the terms signed by the homeowner.So there are two agreements — the mortgage bond and the mortgage note. Different parties, new parties are in the PSA as insurers, servicers,servicer advances etc. all resulting in a DIFFERENT payment from an assortment of parties expected by the creditor —different than the one promised by the debtor whether you refer to the note as evidence of the debt or not.Add the complicating factor that without evidence that the Trust was ever funded (i.e., without evidence that the broker dealer sent the proceeds from the offering prospectus to the trust) how do we answer the basic contract question: was there a meeting of the minds? The expectations of the lender (investors) and the borrower (homeowner) are entirely different and the documents used are completely different.
How could the Trust have entered into any transaction for the origination or acquisition of loans without evidence of funding?
On what basis can the Trustee or servicer claim any authority if the Trust was not funded and was essentially ignored? Does the expert agree that avoiding or ignoring the trust means avoiding and ignoring the prospectus AND the PSA, which contains the authority for ANYONE to act on behalf of the investors, who are no longer “trust beneficiaries” but just a group of investors without a vehicle for their investment?
ESSENTIAL QUESTION: Is the expert prepared to testify about this aspect of structured finance — i.e., how do you connect up the debtor and the creditor? As an expert you would be expected to be able to testify on exactly that question.
And finally there is testimony about the mortgage. If the mortgage secures the note (not the debt, necessarily), which is what is stated in the mortgage, then is the expert willing to testify that the mortgage was defective and should never have been recorded?
Would it not be true, in your estimation, that if a homeowner executes a mortgage in favor of a party posing as a lender, and that party is not a lender to the homeowner, that you could testify that the moment such a mortgage is recorded it probably clouds title?
Would you be willing to testify that based upon those facts, you would say that it is an unknown variable as to who to pay?
Would you be wiling to testify that if you don’t know who to pay, you have no basis for trusting a satisfaction of mortgage from any party including the the original mortgagee?
And lastly that if there is no basis on the face of the instruments or in recorded instruments to presume a valid creditor has been named, that no better presumptions would attach to any assignment, endorsement or other instrument of transfer?
For information concerning expert declarations, consultations and testimony from experts with appropriate credentials to be qualified as an expert, or for litigation support, please call 954-495-9867 or 520-405-1688.
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