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.

Get a consult! 202-838-6345

https://www.vcita.com/v/lendinglies to schedule CONSULT, leave message or make payments.
 
THIS ARTICLE IS NOT A LEGAL OPINION UPON WHICH YOU CAN RELY IN ANY INDIVIDUAL CASE. HIRE A LAWYER.
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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

“Participants” in False Claims of Securitization

What do you think the average homeowner would have said if he was told “Look, the actual lender is someone else but we want you to name us as the lender.”

Get a consult! 202-838-6345

https://www.vcita.com/v/lendinglies to schedule CONSULT, leave message or make payments.
 
THIS ARTICLE IS NOT A LEGAL OPINION UPON WHICH YOU CAN RELY IN ANY INDIVIDUAL CASE. HIRE A LAWYER.
—————-

see http://bpinvestigativeagency.com/beware-the-lsf9-master-participation-trust-is-operating-as-a-secret-agent/

Bill Paatalo has uncovered another layer of onion skin revealing the emptiness of the claims of participants who say they were involved in either the lending of money to homeowners or involved in the transfer of the obligation to repay the alleged loan. As he points out, some refer to “participants” who are ill-defined and essentially unknown quantities. There are many such entities lurking behind the curtain. The one thing they have in common is that they are all making pornographic amounts of money that ultimately comes out of the pockets of investors who were deceived into buying, hedging or insuring bogus and worthless MBS.

The essential fact is that those mortgage backed securities are (a) not backed by anything (b) issued by an empty SPV (Trust) entity existing only on paper (c) completely unrelated to any actual transaction and (d) completely unrelated to the documentation that was fabricated and executed at the “loan” closing.

GASLIGHT: None of the “participants” are who they appear or claim. What is emerging is that in addition to playing musical chairs with actual entities, the banks have created musical terms to the multiple players who are in constant motion switching roles on paper. Several judges have either mused from the bench or confided their discomfort as to why the servicers keep changing and the ownership goes through so many iterations.

The good news is that this is leading to inconsistencies between their correspondence with the borrower, their pleading in court and their proof — often with last minute Powers of Attorney. It appears that all of them are sham conduits for the the ultimate sham entities — the underwriter (“Master Servicer”) of MBS issued by the empty trust and the Seller of those securities. Revealing those inconsistencies often leads to victory (successful defense) in court. And it often can lead to large cash awards for damages arising from violations of FDCPA, FCCPA, RESPA and common law doctrines like wrongful foreclosure — with aggravating circumstances permitting the award of punitive damages.

The reason for all of this chicanery is simple: the party who gave the homeowner money didn’t even know it was their money on the “closing” table. But the moral and legal view on this is that he who gave the money is owed the money in return (unless it is a gift). This is true regardless of what documents are drafted or even executed by homeowners whose signature was obtained by fraud in the inducement.

What do you think the average homeowner would have said if he was told “Look the actual lender is someone else but we want you to name us as the lender.” THAT is a cause of action for common law rescission and cancellation of the instrument — once the homeowner finds out that he made the “check” out to the wrong person. Since the designated “lender” gave no money of its own and assumed no risk of loss the homeowner cannot be required to give “back” what he or she never received from the fake lender.

Adam Levitin might be right in calling it “Securitization Fail” because the securitization never happened; but it assumes that the intent was to have securitization succeed. This is not the case. The entire business model of the banks, as confirmed by industry insiders, was to take the money out of the securitization chain that had been created on paper.  Actual securitization of debt in residential “transactions” was never intended to happen. It was always supposed to be an illusion to cover criminal and civil theft.

PRACTICE HINT: Assume none of the transactions that are represented, assumed or presumed ever happened. Aim your discovery, motions, trial objections and cross examination at that and you will have the best shot at hitting the bulls-eye. That is exactly how Patrick Giunta and I won our cases.

FASB on Sham Transactions

See AU Section 332 Auditing Derivative Instruments, hedging Activities and Investment in Securities.
 *
Every written instrument is by definition the memorialization of an event. Absent the event in the real world, the instrument is worthless at best and at worst fraudulent. This is derived from the my knowledge of generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) as enunciated by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) supported by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).
 *
In any audit of bookkeeping and/or accounting records written instruments are the starting point for inquiry as to whether the documents represents a true and fair representation of an actual transaction. While the auditor may be aware of certain legal presumptions concerning the validity of a facially valid instrument, the auditor is tasked with testing all transactions including those that appear to possess the attributes of facial validity.
 *
Specifically the audit process for alleged transactions relating to derivative securities (mortgage backed bonds, for example) goes further than standard auditing confirmation under the rules recognized as nationwide and binding. In large part because of the admissions or quasi admissions in settlements with government regulators, attorneys general and investors, it has become obvious that transactions that are related to activity in the derivative marketplace are subject to special scrutiny. Auditors are required to test the following, among other things:
 *
  1. Occurrence. Transactions and events that have been recorded have occurred and pertain to the entity.
  2. Completeness. All transactions and events that should have been recorded have been recorded.
*
In the definition of the confirmation process required by auditors, it is clearly stated that a plan of confirmation is to be used. Facially valid documents are not excluded from the confirmation process. And as seen above, transactions relating to alleged securitization are subject to specific testing. The courts are out of their element in assessing the risk of fraudulent representation because the Courts’ inquiry generally starts and ends with the written instrument.
 *
The Auditor wants to know if the transaction memorialized in that instrument actually took place and wants to see evidence to that effect — i.e., the money trail as represented by cash flow, balance sheet and income statements as well as the general ledger (and supporting documents, bank statements and receipts) of the entity that claims to have been a party to a transaction and now claims an asset as a result.
 *
These sections are the beginning point for discovery and the foundation for objections when “business records” are proffered at trial as exceptions to the hearsay rule.
 *
The big question is whether the transactions that are represented in court as loans or assignments or endorsement are actually reflected on the general ledger, bookkeeping records and accounting records of the party who was supposedly involved in any of those transactions is proffering false testimony or fabricated documents into evidence.
 *
The answer is simple: based upon reliable sources the facts are that the big banks have produced a convoluted set records of loosely connected entities. One fact is clear: the acquisition of loans is generally not found in their records nor supported by any entry reflecting a financial transaction. The little originators and banks are generally buried after having gone out of business, but the ones that are left will show that most originated “loans” did not result in the flow of cash from the originator to the alleged borrower.
 *
My recommendation is that foreclosure defense attorneys employ the use of CPA’s who have specific auditing experience and knowledge. The testimony of these experts might be invaluable to the discovery process and lead the opposing side to soften their approach.

Preservation Letter and Discovery

In order for the “business records” to be accepted as an exception to hearsay, foundation is required. Part of foundation is an inquiry into whether these records are the complete records. If they are not the complete records then there is daylight created for the argument that the “business records” are objectionable based upon the fact that they are incomplete.

see sample-preservation-letter

Among the many abuses we see in court is that only partial records are available — even in discovery. One of the steps that could provide the foundation for establishing that the business records” are not complete and have never been complete is through the use of a preservation letter and then follow that up with discovery.

The above link shows, in some detail, as this process unfolds.

Dan Edstrom, senior forensic analyst for Livinglies says —

They are concealing documents they are required to produce, and have an affirmative duty to produce pursuant to (among others):
  • National Mortgage Settlement (servicer will send the evidence supporting the validity of the assignment to the homeowner)

  • CA. HBOR – servicer will ensure they have competent evidence supporting the substantial documents used to foreclose

  • Rule 9011 – attorney or party signing documents filed in bankruptcy court certifies that the documents and factual contentions are not used for an unlawful purpose (to harass, delay, etc.); that the documents and factual contentions are supported by law; that the documents and factual contentions are supported by evidence; that the attorney or person signing has made a reasonable inquiry before submitted the documents or factual contentions.

  • Rule 3001 requires proof of claims to include the writings if a claim is based on a writing, and if the writing is not available provide an explanation.  The failure to provide either is an omission of a material fact …

Who is the Creditor? NY Appellate Decision Might Provide the Knife to Cut Through the Bogus Claim of Privilege

The crux of this fight is that if the foreclosing parties are forced to identify the creditors they will only have two options, in my opinion: (a) commit perjury or (b) admit that they have no knowledge or access to the identity of the creditor

Get a consult! 202-838-6345

https://www.vcita.com/v/lendinglies to schedule CONSULT, leave message or make payments.
THIS ARTICLE IS NOT A LEGAL OPINION UPON WHICH YOU CAN RELY IN ANY INDIVIDUAL CASE. HIRE A LAWYER.
—————-

see http://4closurefraud.org/2016/06/10/opinion-here-ny-court-says-bank-of-america-must-disclose-communications-with-countrywide-in-ambac-suit/

We have all seen it a million times — the “Trustees”, the “servicers” and their agents and attorneys all beg the question of identifying the names and contact information of the creditors in foreclosure actions. The reason is simple — in order to answer that question truthfully they would be required to admit that there is no party that could properly be defined as a creditor in relation to the homeowner.

They have successfully pushed the point beyond the point of return — they are alleging that the homeowner is a debtor but they refuse to identify a creditor; this means they are being allowed to treat the homeowner as a debtor while at the same time leaving the identity of the creditor unknown. The reason for this ambiguity is that the banks, from the beginning, were running a scheme that converted the money paid by investors for alleged “mortgage backed securities”; the conversion was simple — “let’s make their money our money.”

When inquiry is made to determine the identity of the creditor the only thing anyone gets is some gibberish about the documents PLUS the assertion that the information is private, proprietary and privileged.  The case in the above link is from an court of appeals in New York. But it could have profound persuasive effect on all foreclosure litigation.

Reciting the tension between liberal discovery and privilege, the court tackles the confusion in the lower courts. The court concludes that privilege is a very narrow shield in specific situations. It concludes that even the attorney-client privilege is a shield only between the client and the attorney and that adding a third party generally waives that privilege. The third party privilege is only extended in narrow circumstances where the parties are seeking a common goal. So in order to prevent the homeowner from getting the information on his alleged creditor, the foreclosing parties would need to show that there is a common goal between the creditor(s) and the debtor.

Their problem is that they can’t do that without showing, at least in camera, that the identity of the creditor is known and that somehow the beneficiaries of an empty trust have a common goal (hard to prove since the trust is empty contrary to the terms of the “investment”). Or, they might try to identify a creditor who is neither the trust nor the investors, which brings us back to perjury.

FDCPA Claims Upheld in 9th Circuit Class Action

The court held that the FDCPA unambiguously requires any debt collector – first or subsequent – to send a section 1692g(a) validation notice within five days of its first communication with a consumer in connection with the collection of any debt.

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

—————-
If anyone remembers the Grishom book “The Firm”, also in movies, you know that in the end the crooks were brought down by something they were never thinking about — mail fraud — a federal law that has teeth, even if it sounds dull. Mail fraud might actually apply to the millions of foreclosures that have taken place — even if key documents are sent through private mail delivery services. The end of month statements and other correspondence are definitely sent through US Mail. And as we are seeing, virtually everything they were sending consisted of multiple layers of misrepresentations that led to the detriment of the receiving homeowner. That’s mail fraud.
Like Mail Fraud, claims based on the FDCPA seem boring. But as many lawyers throughout the country are finding out, those claims have teeth. And I have seen multiple cases where FDCPA claims resulted in the settlement of the case on terms very favorable to the homeowner — provided the claim is properly brought and there are some favorable rulings on the initial motions.
Normally the banks settle any claim that looks like it would be upheld. That is why you don’t see many verdicts or judgments announcing fraudulent conduct by banks, servicers and “trustees.”And you don’t see the settlement either because they are all under seal of confidentiality. So for the casual observer, you might see a ruling here and there that favors the borrower, but you don’t see any judgments normally. Here the banks thought they had this one in the bag — because it was a class action and normally class actions are difficult if not impossible to prosecute.
It turns out that FDCPA is both a good cause of action for damages and a great discovery tool — to force the banks, servicers or anyone else that is a debt collector to respond within 5 days giving the basic information about the loan — like who is the actual creditor. Discovery is also much easier in FDCPA actions because it is forthrightly tied to the complaint.
This decision is more important than it might first appear. It removes any benefit of playing musical chairs with servicers, and other debt collectors. This is a core of bank strategy — to layer over all defects. This Federal Court of Appeals holds that it doesn’t matter how many layers you add — all debt collectors in the chain had the duty to respond.
.

Justia Opinion Summary

Hernandez v Williams, Zinman and Parham, PC No 14-15672 (9th Cir, 2016)

Plaintiff filed a putative class action, alleging that WZP violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), 15 U.S.C. 1692(g)(a), by sending a debt collection letter that lacked the disclosures required by section 1692(g)(a) of the FDCPA. Applying well-established tools of statutory interpretation and construing the language in section 1692g(a) in light of the context and purpose of the FDCPA, the court held that the phrase “the initial communication” refers to the first communication sent by any debt collector, including collectors that contact the debtor after another collector already did. The court held that the FDCPA unambiguously requires any debt collector – first or subsequent – to send a section 1692g(a) validation notice within five days of its first communication with a consumer in connection with the collection of any debt. In this case, the district court erred in concluding that, because WZP was not the first debt collector to communicate with plaintiff about her debt, it had no obligation to comply with the statutory validation notice requirement. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded.

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NM and Fla Judges Express Doubt Over Whether Loans Ever Made it Into trust

Judges are thinking the unthinkable — that none of the trusts ever acquired anything and that the foreclosures were and are a sham.

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

—————-

It isn’t “theory. It is facts, or rather the absence of facts.

As shown in the two articles by Jeff Barnes below, we are obviously reaching the tipping point. First, the presentation of a Trust instrument means nothing if there is no proof the trust was active — and in particular actually purchased the subject loan. And Second, Judges will deny all objections to discovery and will rule for the borrower if the Trust did not acquire the loan.

In ruling this way the two Judges — thousands of miles apart — are obviously recognizing that the long standing bank objection to borrowers’ defenses based upon lack of legal standing absolutely do not apply. It is not a matter of whether the borrower has “standing” to bring up the PSA, it is a matter of whether the trust was party to any real transaction with relation to the subject mortgage. The answer is no. And no amount of extra paper, powers of attorney, assignments, or endorsements can change that.

Judges are thinking the unthinkable — that none of the trusts ever acquired anything and that the foreclosures were and are a sham.

It is probably worth re-publishing this portion from a long article by Adam Levitin written shortly after the Ibanez decision was reached in Massachusetts. Note how he points out that the vast majority of PSAs that are offered as evidence are neither executed nor do they have a mortgage loan schedule that is “reviewable.” The real problem — and the reason why the SEC-filed PSA documents do not have any signatures and why there is no mortgage loan schedule is that there was no transaction in which the Trust acquired the loans. Virtually all assignments are backdated and virtually none of the assignments relate back to any ACTUAL transaction in which the Trust was involved. The banks have been winning on fumes generated by legal inapplicable presumptions. —

It seems to me that any trust with Massachusetts loans that doesn’t have a publicly filed, executed PSA with a reviewable loan schedule should be on a downgrade watch. Very few publicly filed PSAs are executed and even fewer have publicly filed loan schedules. That doesn’t mean they don’t exist, but somewhere off-line, but if I ran a rating agency, I’d want trustees to show me that they’ve got those papers on at least a sample of deals. Of course should and would are quite different–the ratings agencies, like the regulators, are refusing to take the securitization fail issue as seriously as they should (and I understand that it is a complex legal issue), but I think they ignore it at their (and our) peril

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Excerpts from Barnes’ articles:

A Florida Circuit Judge has gone on the record requiring Wells Fargo, as the claimed “trustee” of a securitized mortgage loan trust, to show that the mortgage loan which WF is attempting to enforce actually went into the PSA, and if not, the standing requirement has not been met and the case will fall on summary judgment. The homeowner is represented by Jeff Barnes, Esq.

The Judge specifically stated as follows:

“…but what I want plaintiff’s counsel to understand, that what you submitted to me with regards to the pooling and servicing agreement still does not have the actual mortgages that went into that pooling and servicing agreement…So at some point you’re going to have to show that this mortgage and note certainly went into that pooling and servicing agreement, which is what I have requested before. …  So I’m just asking you that before we get too far out, please make sure that’s there, or its going to be taken out on summary judgment. … In other words, if you’re a trustee for that pooling and servicing agreement, and the mortgage and note are not in that pooling and servicing agreement, you don’t have standing.”

This ruling not only directly confirms the proof requirements for standing in a securitization case, but supports the production of discovery on the issue as well.


DISCOVERY IS KEY.

The borrower thus requested 53 categories of documents from BAC, including securitization documents. BAC filed a Motion for Protective Order which claimed that public information on the SEC website was “confidential”; that the securitization-related discovery was “irrelevant”; and that it was essentially entitled to withhold discovery because it “has the original note” and has moved for summary judgment on the “relevant” issues.

The Court disagreed, denying BAC’s Motion in its entirety and commanding full responses to the borrower’s discovery request (including production of all responsive documents) within 30 days. The Court found BAC’s Motion to be “sparse”; not in compliance with New Mexico court rules as to discovery; and against New Mexico’s case law which provides for liberal discovery in foreclosure actions so that all of the issues are fully developed and a fair trial is had.

 

A New Mexico District Judge yesterday denied BAC Home Loan Servicing’s Motion for Protective Order which it filed in an attempt to avoid producing documentary discovery to a homeowner who BAC has sued for foreclosure. The loan was originated by New Mexico Bank and Trust, was sold to Countrywide, and thereafter allegedly “assigned” first to MERS and then by MERS to BAC.

Jeff Barnes, Esq., www.ForeclosureDefenseNationwide.com

The Adam Levitin Article on Ibanez and Securitization fail:

Ibanez and Securitization Fail

posted by Adam Levitin

The Ibanez foreclosure decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has gotten a lot of attention since it came down on Friday. The case is, not surprisingly being taken to heart by both bulls and bears. While I don’t think Ibanez is a death blow to the securitization industry, at the very least it should make investors question the party line that’s been coming out of the American Securitization Forum. At the very least it shows that the ASF’s claims in its White Paper and Congressional testimony are wrong on some points, as I’ve argued elsewhere, including on this blog. I would argue that at the very least, Ibanez shows that there is previously undisclosed material risk in all private-label MBS.

The Ibanez case itself is actually very simple. The issue before the court was whether the two securitization trusts could prove a chain of title for the mortgages they were attempting to foreclose on.

There’s broad agreement that absent such a chain of title, they don’t have the right to foreclose–they’d have as much standing as I do relative to the homeowners. The trusts claimed three alternative bases for chain of title:

(1) that the mortgages were transferred via the pooling and servicing agreement (PSA)–basically a contract of sale of the mortgages

(2) that the mortgages were transferred via assignments in blank.

(3) that the mortgages follow the note and transferred via the transfers of the notes.

The Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) held that arguments #2 and #3 simply don’t work in Massachusetts. The reasoning here was heavily derived from Massachusetts being a title theory state, but I think a court in a lien theory state could easily reach the same result. It’s hard to predict if other states will adopt the SJC’s reasoning, but it is a unanimous verdict (with an even sharper concurrence) by one of the most highly regarded state courts in the country. The opinion is quite lucid and persuasive, particularly the point that if the wrong plaintiff is named is the foreclosure notice, the homeowner hasn’t received proper notice of the foreclosure.

Regarding #1, the SJC held that a PSA might suffice as a valid assignment of the mortgages, if the PSA is executed and contains a schedule that sufficiently identifies the mortgage in question, and if there is proof that the assignor in the PSA itself held the mortgage. (This last point is nothing more than the old rule of nemo dat–you can’t give what you don’t have. It shows that there has to be a complete chain of title going back to origination.)

On the facts, both mortgages in Ibanez failed these requirements. In one case, the PSA couldn’t even be located(!) and in the other, there was a non-executed copy and the purported loan schedule (not the actual schedule–see Marie McDonnell’s amicus brief to the SJC) didn’t sufficiently identify the loan. Moreover, there was no proof that the mortgage chain of title even got to the depositor (the assignor), without which the PSA is meaningless:

Even if there were an executed trust agreement with the required schedule, US Bank failed to furnish any evidence that the entity assigning the mortgage – Structured Asset Securities Corporation [the depositor] — ever held the mortgage to be assigned. The last assignment of the mortgage on record was from Rose Mortgage to Option One; nothing was submitted to the judge indicating that Option One ever assigned the mortgage to anyone before the foreclosure sale.

So Ibanez means that to foreclosure in Massachusetts, a securitization trust needs to prove:

(1) a complete and unbroken chain of title from origination to securitization trust
(2) an executed PSA
(3) a PSA loan schedule that unambiguously indicates that association of the defaulted mortgage loan with the PSA. Just having the ZIP code or city for the loan won’t suffice. (Lawyers: remember Raffles v. Wichelhaus, the Two Ships Peerless? This is also a Statute of Frauds issue–the banks lost on 1L contract issues!)

I don’t think this is a big victory for the securitization industry–I don’t know of anyone who argues that an executed PSA with sufficiently detailed schedules could not suffice to transfer a mortgage. That’s never been controversial. The real problem is that the schedules often can’t be found or aren’t sufficiently specific. In other words, deal design was fine, deal execution was terrible. Important point to note, however: the SJC did not say that an executed PSA plus valid schedules was sufficient for a transfer; the parties did not raise and the SJC did not address the question of whether there might be additional requirements, like those imposed by the PSA itself.

Now, the SJC did note that a “confirmatory assignment” could be valid, but (and this is s a HUGE but), it:

cannot confirm an assignment that was not validly made earlier or backdate an assignment being made for the first time. Where there is no prior valid assignment, a subsequent assignment by the mortgage holder to the note holder is not a confirmatory assignment because there is no earlier written assignment to confirm.”

In other words, a confirmatory assignment doesn’t get you anything unless you can show an original assignment. I’m afraid that the industry’s focus on the confirmatory assignment language just raises the possibility of fraudulent “confirmatory” assignments, much like the backdated assignments that emerged in the robosigning depositions.

So what does this mean? There’s still a valid mortgage and valid note. So in theory someone can enforce the mortgage and note. But no one can figure out who owns them. There were problems farther upstream in the chain of title in Ibanez (3 non-identical “true original copies” of the mortgage!) that the SJC declined to address because it wasn’t necessary for the outcome of the case. But even without those problems, I’m doubtful that these mortgages will ever be enforced. Actually going back and correcting the paperwork would be hard, neither the trustee nor the servicer has any incentive to do so, and it’s not clear that they can do so legally. Ibanez did not address any of the trust law issues revolving around securitization, but there might be problems assigning defaulted mortgages into REMIC trusts that specifically prohibit the acceptance of defaulted mortgages. Probably not worthwhile risking the REMIC status to try and fix bad paperwork (or at least that’s what I’d advise a trustee). I’m very curious to see how the trusts involved in this case account for the mortgages now.

The Street seemed heartened by a Maine Supreme Judicial Court decision that came out on FridayHarp v. JPM Chase. If they read the damn case, they wouldn’t put any stock in it.

In Harp, a pro se defendant took JPM all the way to the state supreme court. That alone should make investors nervous–there’s going to be a lot of delay from litigation. Harp also didn’t involve a securitized loan. But the critical difference between Harp and Ibanez is that Harp did not involve issues about the validity of chain of title. It was about the timing of the chain of title. Ibanez was about chain of title validity. In Harp JPM commenced a foreclosure and was subsequently assigned a loan. It then brought a summary judgment motion and prevailed. The Maine SJC stated that the foreclosure was improperly commenced, but it ruled for JPM on straightforward grounds: JPM had standing at the time it moved (and was granted) summary judgment. Given the procedural posture of the case, standing at the time of summary judgment, rather than at the commencement of the foreclosure was what mattered, and there was no prejudice to the defendant by the assignment occurring after the foreclosure action was brought, because the defendant had an opportunity to litigate against the real party in interest before judgment was rendered. The Maine Supreme Judicial Court also indicated that it might not be so charitable with improperly foreclosing lenders that were not in the future; JPM benefitted from the lack of clear law on the subject. In short, Harp says that if the title defects are cured before the foreclosure is completed, it’s ok. There’s a very limited cure possibility under Harp, which means that the law is basically what it was before: if you can’t show title, you can’t complete the foreclosure.

What about MERS?

The Ibanez mortgages didn’t involve MERS. MERS was created in part to fix the problem of unrecorded assignments gumming up foreclosures in the early 1990s (and also to avoid payment of local real estate recording fees). In theory, MERS should help, as it should provide a chain of title for the mortgages. Leaving aside the unresolved concerns about whether MERS recordings are valid and for what purposes, MERS only helps to the extent it’s accurate. And that’s a problem because MERS has lots of inaccuracies in the system. MERS does not always report the proper name of loan owners (e.g., “Bank of America,” instead of “Bank of America 2006-1 RMBS Trust”), and I’ve seen lots of cases where the info in the MERS system doesn’t remotely match with the name of either the servicer or the trust bringing the foreclosure. That might be because the mortgage was transferred out of the MERS system, but there’s still an outstanding record in the MERS system, which actually clouds the title. I’m guessing that on balance MERS should help on mortgage title issues, but it’s not a cure-all. And it is critical to note that MERS does nothing for chain of title issues involving notes.

Which brings me to a critical point: Ibanez and Harp involve mortgage chain of title issues, not note chain of title issues. There are plenty of problems with mortgage chain of title. But the note chain of title issues, which relate to trust law questions, are just as, if not more serious. We don’t have any legal rulings on the note chain of title issues. But even the rosiest reading of Ibanez cannot provide any comfort on note chain of title concerns.

So who loses here? In theory, these loans should be put-back to the seller. Will that happen? I’m skeptical. If not, that means that investors will be eating the loss. This case also means that foreclosures in MA (and probably elsewhere) will be harder, which means more delay, which again hurts investors because there will be more servicing advances to be repaid off the top. The servicer and the trustee aren’t necessarily getting off scot free, though. They might get hit with Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and Fair Credit Reporting Act suits from the homeowners (plus anything else a creative lawyer can scrape together). And mortgage insurers might start using this case as an excuse for denying coverage. REO purchasers and title insurers should be feeling a little nervous now, although I doubt that anyone who bought REO before Ibanez will get tossed out of their house if they are living in it. Going forward, though, I don’t think there’s a such thing as a good faith purchaser of REO in MA.

You can’t believe everything you read. Some of the materials coming out of the financial services sector are simply wrong. Three examples:

(1) JPMorgan Chase put out an analyst report this morning claiming the Massachusetts has not adopted the UCC. This is sourced to calls with two law firms. I sure hope JPM didn’t pay for that advice and that it didn’t come from anyone I know. It’s flat out wrong. Massachusetts has adopted the uniform version of Revised Article 9 of the UCC and a non-uniform version of Revised Article 1 of the UCC, but it has adopted the relevant language in Revised Article 1. There’s not a material divergence in the UCC here.
(2) One of my favorite MBS analysts (whom I will not name), put out a report this morning that stated that Ibanez said assignments in blank are fine. Wrong. It said that they are not and never have been valid in Massachusetts:

[In the banks’] reply briefs they conceded that the assignments in blank did not constitute a lawful assignment of the mortgages. Their concession is appropriate. We have long held that a conveyance of real property, such as a mortgage, that does not name the assignee conveys nothing and is void; we do not regard an assignment of land in blank as giving legal title in land to the bearer of the assignment.”

A similar line is coming out of ASF. Courtesy of the American Banker:

Perplexingly, the American Securitization Forum issued a press release hailing the court’s ruling as upholding the validity of assignments in blank. A spokesman for the organization could not be reached to explain its interpretation.

ASF’s credibility seems to really be crumbling here. It’s one thing to disagree with the Massachusetts SJC. It’s another thing to persist in blatant misstatements of black letter law.

(3) Wells and US Bank, the trustees in the Ibanez case, immediately put out statements that they had no liability. Really? I’m not so sure. Trustees certainly have very broad exculpation and very narrow duties. But an inability to produce deal documents strikes me as such a critical error that it might not be covered. Do they really want to litigate a case where the facts make them look like such buffoons? Do they really want daylight shed on the details of their operations? Indeed, absent an executed PSA, I don’t think the trustees have any proof of exculpation. They might be acting, unwittingly, as common law trustees and thus general fiduciaries. I think they’ll settle quickly and quietly with any investors who sue.
Finally, what are the ratings agencies going to do?

It seems to me that any trust with Massachusetts loans that doesn’t have a publicly filed, executed PSA with a reviewable loan schedule should be on a downgrade watch. Very few publicly filed PSAs are executed and even fewer have publicly filed loan schedules. That doesn’t mean they don’t exist, but somewhere off-line, but if I ran a rating agency, I’d want trustees to show me that they’ve got those papers on at least a sample of deals. Of course should and would are quite different–the ratings agencies, like the regulators, are refusing to take the securitization fail issue as seriously as they should (and I understand that it is a complex legal issue), but I think they ignore it at their (and our) peril

 

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