New “Original Notes” from Visionet Systems: How False Original Signatures Are Created

reapplying the “signature images” upon stored copies.”

I have obtained confirmation from a large bank vendor (Visionet Systems, Inc.) that it rectifies “lost notes” by reapplying the “signature images” upon stored copies. —- Bill Paatalo, December 10, 2016

Kudos to Bill Paatalo who has quantified and identified what I have been talking about for years — the production of “original” notes that were previously destroyed. The sarcasm from the bench has dripped ridicule on anyone even suggesting that the “blue ink” signature is merely a reproduction on a fabricated document. The revelations in this article might be a step toward changing that attitude. — Neil Garfield

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/automated-affidavit-verifications-and-lost-note-reproductions-for-bank-vendors-its-standard-business-practice/

This is something that everyone ought to read because it not only reveals the details of how consumers are being screwed by illegal actions taken by the banks, but also shows how we have now institutionalized illegal behavior.

Perhaps most important is the take-away question from this revelation: Why is the fabrication and forging and robosigning documents necessary if these were all bona fide loans? Answer: They were not bona fide loans and the loan documents were fabrications that the borrower was fraudulently induced to sign.

The money given to “borrowers” was not a loan, but it was a liability.  The liability arose because the homeowner received the benefit of the money advanced somewhere near the time of the fictitious closing. But because of the larger scheme of stealing money from pension funds et al, the use of their money at the so-called closing was hidden from BOTH the investors and the “borrowers.” No loan contract was ever formed. Hence the need for repeated fabrications to cover up the illegal behavior and to create the illusion of literally “the greater weight of the evidence.”

In virtually every foreclosure case the money trail (i.e., reality) does not in any way dovetail or reconcile with the false paper trail created by the world’s largest banks.

Excerpts from Bill’s Article:

I have obtained confirmation from a large bank vendor (Visionet Systems, Inc.) that it rectifies “lost notes” by reapplying the “signature images” upon stored copies. 

Astonishingly enough, this is not the only business practice that appears to violate the $25B National Consent Judgment. Visionet advertises that it prepares “OCR Legal Packages” which involves the use of a sophisticated computer software program to create and verify foreclosure affidavits. Apparently, humans are too slow, as Visionet points out, “Servicers routinely lag behind on completing the legal package reviews in a timely manne[r.”]

[For reference, here is a copy of the “Consent Judgement” (CJ) signed on April 11, 2012 (consent_judgment_boa-4-11-12)]

This investigation begins with yet another “surrogate signed” mortgage assignment “Prepared By: Visionet Systems, Inc.,” executed and recorded December 2015 in Collier County Florida (see: collier-county-florida-assignment). The assignment is executed by “Stacy Pierce – Vice President – MERS as nominee for Greenpoint Mortgage Funding, Inc.” Of course, this mortgagee went out of business on August 20, 2007.

I looked up “Stacy Pierce” and found her LinkedIn resume which shows “VP of Operations” for Visionet Systems, Inc. (see: https://www.linkedin.com/in/stacy-pierce-53047162)

I visited Visionet’s website (https://www.visionetsystems.com/about) and found this marketing brochure describing a product called “Visirelease.” (see: visirelease-marketing-brochure) I was curious as to the following language located on page 2:

“A database driven Business Engine enables the users to define complex business conditions. These business conditions are associated with the relevant tasks to ensure verification at completion of each task. A powerful and flexible print engine is implemented for printing of release, assignments and lost notes, with or without signature images.”

The persons signing the eventual automated affidavits are simply relying on the auto-produced document, and do little if any human verification. The prime example is the above assignment on behalf of defunct Greenpoint! Still, if the witness was doing the actual verification, then why the need for OARS? In all the cases I have been involved, having read and heard countless servicer witnesses’ testimony, I have yet to hear any of these bank witnesses divulge that the affidavits relied upon in the proceedings were prepared and “verified” by a third-party automated computer program. How’s that for hearsay?

Here is the laundry list of potential violations to the Consent Judgment. Nowhere do I see room for “automated affidavit verification solutions” by undisclosed third-party vendors such as Visionet Systems, Inc.

[(CJ – A1-A3):

2. Servicer shall ensure that affidavits, sworn statements, and Declarations are based on personal knowledge, which may be based on the affiant’s review of Servicer’s books and records, in accordance with the evidentiary requirements of applicable state or federal law.

3. Servicer shall ensure that affidavits, sworn statements and Declarations executed by Servicer’s affiants are based on the affiant’s review and personal knowledge of the accuracy and completeness of the assertions in the affidavit, sworn statement or Declaration, set out facts that Servicer reasonably believes would be admissible in evidence, and show that the affiant is competent to testify on the matters stated. Affiants shall confirm that they have reviewed competent and reliable evidence to substantiate the borrower’s default and the right to foreclose, including the borrower’s loan status and required loan ownership information. If an affiant relies on a review of business records for the basis of its affidavit, the referenced business record shall be attached if required by applicable state or federal law or court rule. This provision does not apply to affidavits, sworn statements and Declarations signed by counsel based solely on counsel’s personal knowledge (such as affidavits of counsel relating to service of process, extensions of time, or fee petitions) that are not based on a review of Servicer’s books and records. Separate affidavits, sworn statements or Declarations shall be used when one affiant does not have requisite personal knowledge of all required information.

5. Servicer shall review and approve standardized forms of affidavits, standardized forms of sworn statements, and standardized forms of Declarations prepared by or signed by an employee or officer of Servicer, or executed by a third party using a power of attorney on behalf of Servicer, to ensure compliance with applicable law, rules, court procedure, and the terms of this Agreement (“the Agreement”).

6. Affidavits, sworn statements and Declarations shall accurately identify the name of the affiant, the entity of which the affiant is an employee, and the affiant’s title.

7. Servicer shall assess and ensure that it has an adequate number of employees and that employees have reasonable time to prepare, verify, and execute pleadings, POCs, motions for relief from stay (“MRS”), affidavits, sworn statements and Declarations.

10. Servicer shall not pay volume-based or other incentives to employees or third-party providers or trustees that encourage undue haste or lack of due diligence over quality.

11. Affiants shall be individuals, not entities, and affidavits, sworn statements and Declarations shall be signed by hand signature of the affiant (except for permitted electronic filings). For such documents, except for permitted electronic filings, signature stamps and any other means of electronic or mechanical signature are prohibited.

 

Statutory Requirements for Enforcement of Note or Mortgage

For further information please call 954-495-9867 or 520-405-1688

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So many people sent me this short white paper that I don’t know who to thank or even who wrote it. Any help would be appreciated so I can edit this article and give attribution to the writer.

The only thing that I would caution is that eventually, perhaps sometime soon, the importance of the Assignment and Assumption Agreement will rise in importance as to these enforcement actions based upon a fictitious closing, debt, note and mortgage. The A&A is an agreement between the “originator” and some other “aggregator conduit”.

The A&A essentially calls for violation of TILA by not disclosing the existence of a third party lender. It also allows for compensation and profits arising from the signature of the borrower on the settlement documents without disclosure of who received that compensation or made those profits and how much they were “earning.”

Whether this is ultimately determined to be a table funded loan or simply not a loan contract at all with the borrower remains to be seen. If it is determined to be a table funded loan with an undisclosed third party lender who is not even the aggregator in the A&A then according to regulations Z it is “predatory per se.” If it is predatory per se then how can anyone seek enforcement in equity (i.e. foreclosure)?

And while I am at it, to answer the question of many judges — “what difference does it make where the money came from? — ASK THE BANKS. They nearly always demand to see the bank account from which the down payment is being made and even going beyond that to require the borrower to prove that the money is the money of the borrower. If normal underwriting requires the borrower to produce proof of funding then why isn’t the bank required to prove that they funded the loan — either by origination or acquisition or both?

If a borrower gets the down payment from his Uncle Joe because he is in fact broke, then the Bank under normal underwriting circumstances won’t approve the loan. If a Bank has no financial stake in the alleged “loan” then why should THEY be allowed to enforce it? Isn’t that highly prejudicial to the real creditors? Isn’t the foreclosure judge making it harder for the real creditors to collect by entering judgment for a party who has no risk, no financial stake and no contractual right (or obligations) to represent the real creditor.

And lastly is the wrong assumption about the chronology of these transactions. The mortgage backed securities were “sold forward,” which is to say there was nothing in the Trust when they were sold — and as it turns out in most cases the Trust never got any loans. Further the notes and mortgages were also sold forward in a cloudy arrangement in which the ownership and balance due was at least in doubt if not unknown. You must remember that the banks were not in the business of loaning money — they were in the business of selling mortgage backed securities for empty trusts and then using the money any way they chose.

All that said the following was received by me from several people and I agree with virtually all of it.

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Statutory Requirements For Establishing The Right To Enforce An Instrument

1. Prove status of holder of the instrument. (UCC § 3-301(i)); or

2. Prove status of non-holder in possession of the instrument who has the rights of a holder. (UCC § 3-301(ii)); or

3. Prove status of being entitled to enforce the instrument as a person not in possession of the instrument pursuant to UCC § 3-309 or UCC § 3-418(d). (NOTE is lost, stolen, destroyed).

UCC § 3-309, requirements.

a. Prove possession of the instrument and entitled to enforce it when loss of possession occurred. (UCC § 3-309(a)(1)).

i. If illegality or fraud were involved in the original transaction, it cannot be proved that the person is entitled to enforce the instrument.(See UCC § 3-305. DEFENSES)

b. Prove non-possession of the NOTE is NOT the result of a transfer. (UCC § 3-309(a)(2)).

NOTE: If discovery shows that the instrument was sold by the person claiming the right to enforcement, a transfer occurred, and such person is NOT entitled to enforce the instrument. (See UCC § 3-309(a)(ii)).

c. Prove that the person seeking enforcement cannot reasonably obtain possession of the instrument because the instrument was destroyed, its whereabouts cannot be determined, or it is in the wrongful possession of an unknown person or a person that cannot be found or is not amenable to service of process. (UCC § 3-309(a)(3)).

NOTE: If discovery shows that the instrument was sold by the person claiming the right to enforcement, a transfer occurred, and such person is NOT entitled to enforce the instrument. (See UCC § 3-309(a)(ii)).

d. A person seeking enforcement of an instrument under subsection (a) must prove the terms of the instrument and the person’s right to enforce the instrument. (UCC § 3-309(b)).

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UCC § 3-309 Enforcement Of Lost, Destroyed, Or Stolen Instrument.
(a) A person not in possession of an instrument is entitled to enforce the instrument if

(1) the person seeking to enforce the instrument​
(A) was entitled to enforce the instrument when loss of possession occurred, or
(B) has directly or indirectly acquired ownership of the instrument from a person who was entitled to enforce the instrument when loss of possession occurred; ​
(2) the loss of possession was NOT the result of a transfer by the person or a lawful seizure; and​
(3) the person cannot reasonably obtain possession of the instrument because the instrument was destroyed, its whereabouts cannot be determined, or it is in the wrongful possession of an unknown person or a person that cannot be found or is not amenable to service of process.​

(b) A person seeking enforcement of an instrument under subsection (a) must prove the terms of the instrument and the person’s right to enforce the instrument. If that proof is made, Section 3-308 applies to the case as if the person seeking enforcement had produced the instrument. The court may not enter judgment in favor of the person seeking enforcement unless it finds that the person required to pay the instrument is adequately protected against loss that might occur by reason of a claim by another person to enforce the instrument. Adequate protection may be provided by any reasonable means.

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An instrument is transferred when it is delivered by a person other than its issuer for the purpose of giving to the person receiving delivery the right to enforce the instrument. (UCC § 3-203(a)).

If a transferor purports to transfer less than the entire instrument, negotiation of the instrument does not occur. The transferee obtains no rights under this Article and has only the rights of a partial assignee. (UCC 3-203(d)).

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If the bank, mortgage company, etc., sold the NOTE, they have no right to enforce the NOTE, through foreclosure or court proceeding pursuant to the fact that the UCC bars such claimant from invoking the court’s subject matter jurisdiction of the case.

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Even if the claimant produces the original wet-ink NOTE, there is a defense to the action pursuant to UCC 3-305.

Illegality and false representation (fraud) perpetrated in the transaction.

Did the bankdisclose the SOURCE of the money for the transaction?Did the bank inform the NOTE issuer that the money for the transaction was provided at no cost to the bank?

Did the bank disclose that the NOTE would be sold at the earliest possible convenience, and that such sale and receipt of money from a third party would actually pay off the NOTE? (Satisfaction of Mortgage).​

Many discovery questions to be asked when a claimant initiates foreclosure proceedings.

***********

Many assume that the bank/broker/lender that begins the process is actually providing the money for making a “loan,” when in fact, the bank/broker/lender is only making an “exchange,“ of notes, at no cost, and then, coercing the issuer of the promissory note into the comprehension that he is receiving a “loan.” The following was stated in A PRIMER ON MONEY, SUBCOMMITTEE ON DOMESTIC FINANCE, COMMITTEE ON BANKING AND CURRENCY, HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 88th Congress, 2d Session, AUGUST 5, 1964, CHAPTER VIII, HOW THE FEDERAL RESERVE GIVES AWAY PUBLIC FUNDS TO THE PRIVATE BANKS [44-985 O-65-7, p89]

“In the first place, one of the major functions of the private commercial banks is to create money. A large portion of bank profits come from the fact that the banks do create money. And, as we have pointed out, banks create money without cost to themselves, in the process of lending or investing in securities such as Government bonds.”​

In this instance, the transaction was funded by using the prospective property (collateral) and the signer’s promissory note as if the property and the Note already belonged to the bank/broker/lender. [Editor’s note: Those loans NEVER belonged to the Bank who was selling them before they even existed.]

So, if the bank used the promissory NOTE, as money, to create the cash reserve which was then used to validate the bank check issued on the face amount of the promissory NOTE, at no cost to the bank, without NOTICE to the signer of the promissory NOTE, and without fully disclosing these facts and aspects of the transaction, the bank committed a DECEPTIVE PRACTICE, FRAUD.

Who Can Sign a Lost Note Affidavit? What Happens When It Is “Found?”

For further information and assistance, please call 954-495-9867 or 520-405-1688

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Let’s start with the study that planted the seed of doubt as to the validity of the debt, note, mortgage and foreclosure and whether any of those “securitized debt” foreclosures should have been allowed to even get to first base. Katherine Ann Porter, when she was a professor in Iowa (2007) did a seminal study of “lost” documents and found that at least 40% of ALL notes were lost as a result of intentional destruction or negligence. You can find her study on this blog.

The issue with “lost notes” is actually simple. If the note is lost then the court and the borrower are entitled to an explanation of the the full story behind the loss of the note, why it was intentionally destroyed and whose negligence caused the loss of the note. And the reason is also simple. If the Court and the borrower are not fully satisfied that the whole story has been told, then neither one can determine whether the party claiming rights to collect or enforce the note actually has those rights.

This is the question posed to me by a knowledgeable person involved in the challenge to the validity of the debt, note, mortgage and foreclosure:

Who is finding the Note?  Can a servicer execute a Lost Note Affidavit as a holder?  Non holder in possession?

It took me a while to get to the obvious point of the above defense.  It is intended in the event that party A loses the Note and files a LNA [Lost Note Affidavit}, that the Issuer, does not have to pay party B even if he appears with a blank endorsed note, unless B can prove holder in due course (virtually impossible these days, esp in foreclosure cases).

This is critical.  The foreclosing party, through a series of mergers and successions, files a case as successor by merger to ABC.  Can’t locate note, so it files a LNA, stating ABC lost the Note.  Note is found, but the foreclosing party says, oops, was in a custodial file for which we were the servicer for XYZ.   While the foreclosing party has the note, it cannot unring the fact it got the Note from XYZ after ABC lost it.

Good questions. He understands that the requirements as expressly stated in the law (UCC, State law etc.) are quite stringent. You cannot re-establish a lost note with a copy of it unless you can prove that you had it and that you were the person entitled to enforce it (known as PETE). You also cannot re-establish the note unless you can prove that the note was lost or destroyed under circumstances where it is far more likely than not that the original won’t show up later in the hands of someone else claiming PETE status. So there should be a heavy burden placed on any party seeking to foreclose or even just to collect on a “lost note.” But courts have steamrolled over this obvious problem requiring something on the order of “probable cause” rather than actual proof. While there is some evidence the judiciary is turning the corner against the banks, the great majority of cases fly over these issues either because of presumptions by the bench or because the “borrower” fails to raise it — and fails to make appropriate motions in limine and raise objections in trial.

But the person who posed this question drills down deeper into the real factual issues. He wants to know details. We all know that it is easier to allege that you destroyed it accidentally or even intentionally than to allege the loss of the note. A witness from the party asserting PETE can say, truthfully or not, “I destroyed it.” Proving that he didn’t and that the copy is fabricated is very difficult for a homeowner with limited resources. If the allegation and the testimony is that the note was lost, we get into the question of what, when where, how and why. But in a lost note situation most states require some sort of indemnification from the party asserting PETE status or holder in due course status. That is also a problem. I remember rejecting the offer of indemnification from Taylor, Bean and Whitaker after I reviewed their financial statements. It was obvious they were going broke and they did. And the officers went to jail for criminal acts.

So the first question is exactly when was the “original” note last seen and by whom? In whose possession was it when it was allegedly lost? How was it lost? Who has direct personal information on the location of the original and the timing and method of loss? And what happens when the note is “found?” We know that original documents are being fabricated by advanced technology such that even the borrower doesn’t realize he is not being shown the original (that is why I suggest denying that they are the holder of the note, denying they are PETE, denying they are holder in due course etc.)

In the confusion of those issues, the homeowner usually fails to realize that this is just another lie. But in discovery, if you are awake to the issue, you can either learn the facts (or deal with the inevitable objections to discovery). And then the lawyer for the homeowner should graph out the allegations and testimony as best as possible. The questioner is dead right — if the party NOW claiming PETE status or HDC status received the “found” original note but received it from someone other than the party who “lost” it, there is no chain upon which the foreclosing party can rely. In simple language, what they are attempting to do is fly over the gap between when the note was lost and destroyed and the time that the current claimant took possession of the paper. And once again I say that the real proof is the real money trail. If the underlying transactions exist, then there will be some correspondence, agreements and a payment of money that will reveal the true transfer.

And again I say, that if you are attacking the paper you need to be extremely careful not to give the impression that the borrower is attempting to get out of a legitimate debt. The position is that there is no legitimate debt IN THIS CHAIN. The debt lies outside the chain. The true debt is owed to whoever supplied the money that was received at the loan closing, regardless of what paperwork was signed. Failure to prove the original loan transaction should be fatal to the action on the note or the mortgage (except if the foreclosing party can prove the status of a holder in due course). The fact that the paperwork was signed only creates a potential second liability that does not benefit the party whose money was used for the loan.

The foreclosure is a thinly disguised adventure in greed — where the perpetrators of the false foreclosure, use fabricated, robo-signed paper without ANY loan at the base of the paper trail and without any payments made by any of the parties for possession or enforcement of the paper. They are essentially stealing the house, the proceeds, and the money that was used to fund the “loan” all to the detriment of the real parties in interest, to wit: the investors who were tricked into directly lending the money to borrowers  and the homeowners who were tricked into signing paperwork that created a second liability for the same loan.

Nye Lavalle’s Early Warning in 2003 Profiled In New York Times

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“The Fraud of Our Lifetime”

Robert D. Drain, a federal bankruptcy judge in the Southern District of New York, said in court last month that the failure of the mortgage industry to deal with pervasive problems involving inaccurate documentation and improper court filings amounted to “the greatest failure of lawyering in the last 50 years.”

In an interview last week, Judge Drain said several practices have contributed to the foreclosure mess. One is that Fannie and the rest of the industry failed to ensure that MERS was operating legally in all states. Another is that the industry failed to perform due diligence on documentation.

SECRET STUDY IN 2006 CORROBORATED LAVALLE’S FINDINGS SEE O.C.J. Case no 5595

EDITOR’S NOTES: Nye has contributed to these pages and while he attended my workshop, he was as much a contributor there as a participant. For homeowners, lawyers, judges, legislators, and law enforcement officials, here are the take-away points that are documented by Lavalle and referred to in this article. Lavalle is a heavy hitter, and despite the obvious clarity of his projections and observations in 2003 and the years going forward, everyone ignored him — stating that he was “over the top.” I know how that feels. But here are some actual facts that can be found and used in your litigation with the banks and servicers, Fannie and Freddie. It was a dirty business from the start:

  1. Anyone who gains control of a note can try to force the borrower to pay it — even if it has already been paid. In our current context the burden mysteriously shifts to the borrower to prove information that is solely in the possession of the their opponent who has no intention of giving it up. By pretending to be a lender or successor, banks and servicers have foreclosed on millions of properties not just improperly from a procedural point of view, but wrongfully because there was no debt, there was no default and there was no security instrument that was enforceable.
  2. In at least 2 million foreclosures,, extrapolating from currently available figures, the debt was paid in full to the creditor but the note was not cancelled, so that the same note could be subject to collection multiple time. These uncancelled notes were routinely sent by Fannie and Freddie as parties complicit in a monumental fraud. Everyone knew better but the prospect of grabbing homes from unsuspecting homeowners who knew they had stopped making payments was irresistible. Why tell the homeowner that the debt was paid? Why tell the homeowner that there was no default? It certainly looked like there was a debt and it looked like a default. So the banks and servicers ran with it.
  3. Most of the remaining 5 million foreclosures were based upon false declarations of default because the note was partially paid by third parties as set forth in the contracts between the investors, servicers and banks. These also include debts that had been paid or settled in full by receipt of servicer payments, insurance, and credit default swaps as well as commingling of funds between tranches in each REMIC.
  4. Destruction of 40% of the notes ( at a minimum) was a planned strategy to create a grey area in which anyone who could create the “original note” (even though it was lost or shredded) was able to bring enforcement actions against hapless homeowners who had no way or knowing nor any access to information as to the reality of these exotic transactions.
  5. Lavalle warned Fannie and Freddie in 2005 — 2 years before this blog began — that David Stern’s office was being cited for using fabricated, fraudulent instruments. They didn’t care.
  6. The findings in confidential analyses and reports corroborated the observations and analysis of Lavalle. But the Conclusion is what will send occupiers and others through the roof — they concluded that most people would not have the resources of knowledge to attack the system of corruption and so it was decided to allow it to continue. In other words because you are ignorant of how the money was handled, because the banks and servicers were allowed to deceive you and you were deceived, because you didn’t understand the exotic instruments in which your your signature was used, and most of all because you didn’t have the money to challenge them, you would lose your home, all the money you put into it and never know that the parties who foreclosed were literally laughing all the way to the Bank. 
  7. The solution is to get help. The analytical tools offered on this web site are now being used with some success in courtrooms across the country. We are in the process of combining the tools into packages such that the inexperienced homeowner is not forced to choose between products that he or she does not understand. And we have paralegals support services for a legion of lawyers who will shortly announce their ability to process large volumes of case competently, methodically and successfully. We are ending the days where you order a report that contains helpful information but there is no instruction or manual that explains how to use the information on title, securitization Forensic Loan (TILA) Analysis and Loan Level Accounting. Now you only need to know that the consortium of analysts, paralegals and lawyers will bring the facts of your case together for the best possible presentation. Take hope from this but no sense of guarantee. Many Judges and lawyers and even the homeowners) have trouble with the notion that the debt was extinguished without borrower payment and was instead paid by others.

A Mortgage Tornado Warning, Unheeded

By

YEARS before the housing bust — before all those home loans turned sour and millions of Americans faced foreclosure — a wealthy businessman in Florida set out to blow the whistle on the mortgage game.

His name is Nye Lavalle, and he first came to attention not in finance but in sports and advertising. He turned heads in marketing circles by correctly predicting that Nascar and figure skating would draw huge followings in the 1990s.

But after losing a family home to foreclosure, under what he thought were fishy circumstances, Mr. Lavalle, founder of a consulting firm called the Sports Marketing Group, began a new life as a mortgage sleuth. In 2003, when home prices were flying high, he compiled a dossier of improprieties on one of the giants of the business, Fannie Mae.

In hindsight, what he found looks like a blueprint of today’s foreclosure crisis. Even then, Mr. Lavalle discovered, some loan-servicing companies that worked for Fannie Mae routinely filed false foreclosure documents, not unlike the fraudulent paperwork that has since made “robo-signing” a household term. Even then, he found, the nation’s electronic mortgage registry was playing fast and loose with the law — something that courts have belatedly recognized, too.

You might wonder why Mr. Lavalle didn’t speak up. But he did. For two years, he corresponded with Fannie executives and lawyers. Fannie later hired a Washington law firm to investigate his claims. In May 2006, that firm, using some of Mr. Lavalle’s research, issued a confidential, 147-page report corroborating many of his findings.

And there, apparently, is where it ended. There is little evidence that Fannie Mae’s management or board ever took serious action. Known internally as O.C.J. Case No. 5595, in reference to the company’s Office of Corporate Justice, this 2006 report suggests just how deep, and how far back, our mortgage and foreclosure problems really go.

“It is axiomatic that the practice of submitting false pleadings and affidavits is unlawful,” said the report, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times. “With his complaint, Mr. Lavalle has identified an issue that Fannie Mae needs to address promptly.”

What Fannie Mae knew about abusive foreclosure practices, and when it knew it, are crucial questions as Congress and the Obama administration weigh the future of the company and its cousin, Freddie Mac. These giants eventually blew themselves apart and, so far, they have cost taxpayers $150 billion. But before that, their size and reach — not only through their own businesses, but also through the vast amount of work they farm out to law firms and loan servicers — meant that Fannie and Freddie shaped the standards for the entire mortgage industry.

Almost all of the abuses that Mr. Lavalle began identifying in 2003 have since come to widespread attention. The revelations have roiled the mortgage industry and left Fannie, Freddie and big banks with potentially enormous legal liabilities. More worrying is that the kinds of problems that Mr. Lavalle flagged so long ago, and that Fannie apparently ignored, have evicted people from their homes through improper or fraudulent foreclosures.

Until a few weeks ago, Mr. Lavalle, 54, had never seen O.C.J. 5595. He had hoped to get a copy after helping Fannie’s lawyers, at Baker & Hostetler in Washington, complete it. He didn’t.

But after learning about its findings from a reporter for The Times, Mr. Lavalle said, “Fannie Mae, its directors, servicers and lawyers appeared to have an institutional policy of turning a willful blind eye to evidence of mortgage origination and servicing fraud.”

He went on: “When confronted directly with this evidence, Fannie not only failed to correct and remedy the abuses, it assisted in continuing the frauds via institutional practices that concealed fraudulent foreclosures.”

A spokesman for Fannie Mae said in a statement last week that the company quickly addressed several issues that were raised in the 2006 report and that it took action on other issues associated with foreclosures in 2010. “We want to prevent foreclosure whenever possible, but when foreclosures cannot be avoided they must move forward in a timely, appropriate fashion,” he said.

Fannie Mae would not say whether it had shared O.J.C. 5595 with its board of directors or its regulator, then known as the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight. James B. Lockhart III, who headed that regulator in 2006, said he did not recall reading the report. “I probably did not see it as back then foreclosures were not a very big deal,” he said.

But another report published last fall by the inspector general of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the current regulator, briefly mentioned some of the problems that Mr. Lavalle had raised. (It didn’t mention him by name.) It also faulted Fannie Mae, saying it failed to address foreclosure improprieties that had surfaced years before.

LIKE most people, Nye Lavalle had little interest in the mortgage industry until things got personal. Raised in comfortable surroundings in Grosse Pointe, Mich., just outside Detroit, he began his business career in the 1970s, managing professional tennis players. In the 1980s, he ran SMG, a thriving consulting and research firm.

Then he tried to pay off a loan on a home his family had bought in Dallas in 1988. The balance was roughly $100,000, and the property was valued at about $175,000, Mr. Lavalle said. But when he combed through figures provided by his lender, Savings of America, he found substantial discrepancies in the accounting that had inflated his bill by $18,000. The loan servicer had repeatedly charged him late fees for payments he had made on time, as well as for unnecessary appraisals and force-placed hazard insurance, he said.

Mr. Lavalle refused to pay. The bank refused to bend. The balance rose as the bank tacked on lawyers’ fees and the loan was deemed delinquent. The fight continued after his mortgage was allegedly sold to EMC, a Bear Stearns unit.

Unlike most people, Mr. Lavalle had the time and money to fight. He persuaded his family to help him pay for a lawsuit against EMC and Bear Stearns. Seven years and a small fortune later, they lost the house in Dallas. Back then, judges weren’t as interested in mortgage practices as some are now, he said.

The experience lit a fire. Mr. Lavalle set out to learn everything he could about the mortgage industry. In a five-hour interview in Naples, Fla., last month, he described his travels nationwide. He dove into mortgage arcana, land records and court filings. By 1996, he had identified what appeared to be forged signatures on foreclosure documents, foreshadowing troubles to come. He took his findings to big players in the industry: Banc One, Bear Stearns, Countrywide Financial, Freddie Mac, JPMorgan, Washington Mutual and others. A few responded but later said his claims were not valid, he said.

Now he splits his time between Orlando and Boca Raton, advising lawyers as an expert witness. “From my own personal experience and 20 years of research and investigation, nothing — and I mean nothing — that a bank, lender, loan servicer or their lawyer says or puts on paper can be trusted and accepted as true,” Mr. Lavalle said.

FANNIE MAE, now in government hands, has acknowledged how abusive foreclosure practices can hurt its own business. “The failure of our servicers or a law firm to apply prudent and effective process controls and to comply with legal and other requirements in the foreclosure process poses operational, reputational and legal risks for us,” it said in a 2010 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Five years earlier, Fannie seemed to have taken a different view. That was when Mr. Lavalle pointed out legal lapses by some of its representatives. Among them was the law offices of David J. Stern, in Plantation, Fla., which was handling an astonishing 75,000 foreclosure cases a year — more than 200 a day. In 2005, Mr. Lavalle warned Fannie Mae that some judges had ruled that the Stern firm was submitting “sham pleadings.” Nonetheless, Fannie continued to do business with the firm until it closed its doors last year, after evidence emerged of rampant forgeries and fraudulent filings.

O.C.J. Case No. 5595 found that Stern wasn’t the only firm working for Fannie that seemed to be cutting corners. It also found that lawyers operating in seven other states — Connecticut, Georgia, New York, Illinois, Louisiana, Kentucky and Ohio — had made false filings in connection with work for Fannie Mae or the Mortgage Electronic Registration System, or MERS, a private mortgage registry Fannie helped establish in 1995.

“While Fannie Mae officials do not have a single opinion, some officials believe foreclosure counsel are sacrificing accuracy for speed,” the report said.

The lawyers at Baker & Hostetler did not agree with everything Mr. Lavalle said. Mark A. Cymrot, a partner who led the investigation, discounted Mr. Lavalle’s fear that Fannie could lose billions if large numbers of foreclosures had to be unwound as a result of misconduct by its lawyers and servicers.

Even so, the report didn’t conclude that Mr. Lavalle was wrong on the legal issues. It simply said that few people would have the financial resources to challenge foreclosures. In other words, few people would be like Mr. Lavalle.

“Courts are unlikely to unwind foreclosures unless borrowers can demonstrate that the foreclosure would not have gone forward with the correct pleadings, which is a difficult burden for most borrowers to meet,” the report said. “Nevertheless, the issues Mr. Lavalle raises should be addressed promptly in order to mitigate the risk of exposure to lawsuits and some degree of liability.” Mr. Cymrot declined to comment for this article.

O.C.J. 5595 also questioned Mr. Lavalle’s contention that improprieties by loan servicers were pervasive. But based on interviews with 30 Fannie employees, the report conceded that the company had no mechanism to ensure that servicers were charging borrowers appropriate fees.

Other oversight at Fannie was similarly lacking, the Baker & Hostetler lawyers found. For instance, when Fannie identified fraud by a lender or servicer, it didn’t notify the homeowner. Nor did it police activities of lawyers or servicers it hired. As a result, the report said, Fannie might not be insulated from liability for their misconduct.

Lewis D. Lowenfels, a securities law expert, said he was perplexed that Fannie’s board appeared to have done nothing to correct these practices. “If it had been brought to the board’s attention that specific acts of illegality were being committed, it should have directed that relationships with the transgressors be terminated forthwith and Fannie Mae’s regulator be advised accordingly,” he said.

Daniel H. Mudd, Fannie’s chief executive at the time, declined to comment through his lawyer. Mr. Mudd was recently sued by the S.E.C., accused of failing to disclose Fannie’s participation in the subprime mortgage market.

PERHAPS no development has done more to obscure the forces behind the foreclosure epidemic than the rise of the MERS, the private registry that has all but replaced public land ownership records. Created by Fannie, Freddie and big banks, MERS claims to hold title to roughly half the nation’s home mortgages. Judges and lawmakers have questioned MERS’s legal authority to initiate foreclosures, and some judges have thrown out foreclosures brought in its name. On Friday, New York’s attorney general sued MERS, contending that its system led to fraudulent foreclosure filings. MERS refuted the claims and said it would fight.

Mr. Lavalle warned Fannie years ago that MERS couldn’t legally foreclose because it didn’t actually own notes underlying properties.

The report agreed. MERS’s approach of letting loan servicers foreclose in its own name, not in that of institutions owning the notes, “is not accepted legal practice in all states,” the report said. Moreover, “MERS’s counsel conceded false allegations are routinely made, and the practice should be ‘modified.’ ”

It continued: “To our knowledge, MERS has not addressed the issue of its counsels’ repeated false statements to the courts.”

Janis L. Smith, a spokeswoman for MERS, said it had not seen the Baker & Hostetler report and declined comment on its references to the false statements made on its behalf to the courts. She said that MERS’s business model is legal in all states and that as a nominee, it has the right to foreclose. MERS stopped allowing its members to foreclose in its name in all states in 2011.

Robert D. Drain, a federal bankruptcy judge in the Southern District of New York, said in court last month that the failure of the mortgage industry to deal with pervasive problems involving inaccurate documentation and improper court filings amounted to “the greatest failure of lawyering in the last 50 years.”

In an interview last week, Judge Drain said several practices have contributed to the foreclosure mess. One is that Fannie and the rest of the industry failed to ensure that MERS was operating legally in all states. Another is that the industry failed to perform due diligence on documentation.

MERS no longer participates in foreclosures. But a lot of damage has already been done, Mr. Lavalle said.

“Hundreds of thousands of foreclosures in Florida and across America were knowingly conducted unlawfully, for which there are still severe liabilities and implications to come for many years,” he said.

THERE was a time when Americans had mortgage-burning parties: When they paid off a promisory note, they celebrated by burning the release of the lien.

But they kept the canceled promissory note — and there was a reason for that. Promissory notes, like dollar bills, are negotiable currency. Whoever holds them can essentially claim them.

According to O.C.J. Case No. 5595, Fannie held roughly two million mortgage notes in its offices in Herndon, Va., in 2005 — a fraction of the 15 million loans it actually owned or guaranteed. Who had the rest? Various third parties.

At that time, Fannie typically destroyed 40 percent of the notes once the mortgages were paid off. It returned the rest to the respective lenders, only without marking the notes as canceled.

Mr. Lavalle and the internal report raised concerns that Fannie wasn’t taking enough care in handling these documents. The company lacked a centralized system for reporting lost notes, for instance. Nor did custodians or loan servicers that held notes on its behalf report missing notes to homeowners.

The potential for mayhem, the report said, was serious. Anyone who gains control of a note can, in theory, try to force the borrower to pay it, even if it has already been paid. In such a case, “the borrower would have the expensive and unenviable task of trying to collect from the custodian that was negligent in losing the note, from the servicer that accepted payments, or from others responsible for the predicament,” the report stated. Mr. Lavalle suggested that Fannie return the paid notes to borrowers after stamping them “canceled.” Impractical, the 2006 report said.

This leaves open the possibility that someone might try to force homeowners to pay the same mortgage twice. Or that loans could be improperly pledged as collateral by some other institution, even though the loans have been paid, Mr. Lavalle said. Indeed, there have been instances in the foreclosure crisis when two different institutions laid claim to the same mortgage note.

In its statement last week, Fannie said it quickly addressed questions of lost note affidavits and issued guidance to servicers that no judicial foreclosures be conducted in MERS’s name. It also said it instructed Florida foreclosure lawyers “to use specific language to assure no confusion over the identity of the ‘owner’ and the ’holder’ of the note.”

The 2006 report said Mr. Lavalle at times came across as over the top, that he was, in its words, “partial to extreme analogies that undermine his credibility.” Knowing what we know now, he looks more like one of the financial Cassandras of our time — a man whose prescient warnings went unheeded.

Now, he hopes dubious mortgage practices will be eradicated.

“Any attorney general, lawyer, bank director, judge, regulator or member of Congress who does not open their eyes to the abuse, ask pertinent questions and allow proper investigation and discovery,” he said, “is only assisting in the concealment of what may be the fraud of our lifetime.”

8

 

Part III of Gardner and Shepherd: Notes and Assignments

Your Client’s Securitized Mortgage: A Basic Roadmap PART 3: Dealing with Notes and Assignments [2009-11-19]

Your Client’s Securitized Mortgage: A Basic Roadmap
By O. Max Gardner, III and Richard D. Shepherd

Part 3: Dealing with Notes and Assignments

There are two basic documents involved in a residential mortgage loan: the promissory note and the mortgage (or deed of trust). For brevity’s sake these are referred to simply as the Note and the Mortgage.

A Note is: a contract to repay borrowed money. It is a negotiable instrument governed by Article 3 of the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC). The Note, by itself, is an unsecured debt. Notes are personal property. Notes are negotiated by endorsement or by transfer and delivery as provided for by the UCC. Notes are separate legal documents from the real estate instruments that secure the loans evidenced by the Notes by liens on real property.

A Mortgage is: a lien on, and an interest in, real estate. It is a security agreement. It creates a lien on the real estate as collateral for a debt, but it does not create the debt itself. The rights created by a Mortgage are classified as real property and these instruments are governed by local real estate law in each jurisdiction. The UCC has nothing to do with the creation, drafting, recording or assignment of these real estate instruments.
A Note can only be transferred by: an “Endorsement” if the Note is payable to a particular party; or by transfer of possession of the Note, if the Note is endorsed “in blank.” Endorsements must be written or stamped on the face of the Note or on a piece of paper physically attached to the Note (the Allonge). See UCC §3-210 through §3-205. The UCC does not recognize an Assignment as a valid means of transferring a Note such that the transferee becomes a “holder”, which is what the owners of securitized mortgage notes universally claim to be.

In most states, an Allonge cannot be used to endorse a note if there is sufficient room at the “foot of the note” for such endorsements. The “foot of the note” refers to the space immediately below the signatures of the borrowers. Also, if an Allonge is properly used, then it must describe the terms of the note and most importantly must be “permanently affixed” to the Note. Most jurisdictions hold that “staples” and “tape” do not constitute a “permanent” attachment. And, the Master Document Custodial Agreement may specify when an Allonge can be used and how it must be attached to the original Note.

Mortgage rights can only be transferred by: an Assignment recorded in the local land records. Mortgage rights are “estates in land” and therefore governed by the state’s real property laws. These vary from state to state but in general Mortgage rights can only be transferred by a recorded instrument (the Assignment) in order to be effective against third parties without notice.

In discussions of exactly what documents are required to transfer a “mortgage loan” confusion often arises between Notes versus Mortgages and the respective documents necessary to accomplish transfers of each. The issue often arises from the standpoint of proof: Has Party A proven that a transfer has occurred to it from Party B? Does Party A need to have an Assignment? The answer often depends on exactly what Party A is trying to prove.

Scenario 1: Party A is trying to prove that the Trustee “owns the loan.” Here the likely questions are, did the transaction steps actually occur as required by the PSA and as represented in the Prospectus Supplement, and are the Trustee’s ownership rights subject to challenge in a bankruptcy case?

The answers lie in the UCC and in documents such as:

  • the MLPSA’s;
  • conveyancing rules of the PSA (normally Section 2.01);
  • transfer and delivery receipts (look for these to be described in the “Conditions to Closing” or similarly named section of MLPSA’s and the PSA);
  • funds transfer records (canceled checks, wire transfers, etc);
  • compliance and exception reports provided by the Custodian pursuant to the Master Document Custodial Agreement; and
  • the “true sale” legal opinions.

Some of these documents may or may not be available on the SEC’s EDGAR system; some may be obtainable only through discovery in litigation. The primary inquiry is whether or not the documents, money and records that were required to have been produced and change hands actually do so as required, and at the times required, by the terms of the transaction documents.

Another question sometimes asked when examining the “validity” of a securitization (or in other words, the rights of a securitization Trustee versus a bankruptcy trustee) is, must the Note be endorsed to the Trustee at the time of the securitization? Here are some points to consider:

  • Frequently the only endorsement on the Note is from the Securitizer-Sponsor “in blank” and the only Assignment that exists, pre-foreclosure, is from the Securitizer-Sponsor “in blank” (in other words, the name of the transferee is not inserted in the instrument and this space is blank).
  • The concept widely accepted in the securitization world (the issuers and ratings agencies, and the law firms advising them) is that this form of documentation was sufficient for a valid and unbroken chain of transfers of the Notes and assignments of the Mortgages as long as everything was done consistently with the terms of the securitization documents. This article is not intended to validate or defend either this concept or this practice, nor is it intended to represent in any way that the terms of the securitization documents were actually followed to the letter in every real-world case. In fact, and unfortunately for the certificate holders and the securitized mortgage markets, there are many instances in many reported cases where these mandatory rules of the securitization documents have not been followed but in fact, completely ignored.
  • Often shortly before foreclosure (or in some cases afterwards) a mortgage assignment is produced from the Originator to the Trustee years after the Trust has closed out for the receipt of all mortgage loans. Such assignments are inconsistent with the mandatory conveyancing rules of the Trust Documents and are also inconsistent with the special tax rules that apply to these special trust structures. Most state law requires the chain of title not to include any mortgage assignments in blank, but assignments from A to B to C to D. Under most state statutes, an assignment in blank would be deemed an “incomplete real estate instrument.” Even more frequent than A to D assignments are MERS to D assignments, which suffer from the same transfer problems noted herein plus what is commonly referred to as the “MERS problem.”

Scenario 2: Party B seeks to prove standing to foreclose or to appear in court with the rights of a secured creditor under the Bankruptcy Code. OK, granted the UCC (§3-301) does provide that a negotiable instrument can be enforced either by “(i) the holder of the instrument, or (ii) a non-holder in possession of the instrument who has the rights of a holder.”

  • Servicers and foreclosure counsel have been known to contend that this is the end of the story and that the servicer can therefore do anything that the holder of the Note could do, anywhere, anytime.
  • The Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Guides contain many sections that appear to lend superficial support to this contention and frequently will be cited by Servicers and foreclosure counsel as though the Guides have the force of law, which of course they do not.
  • There are many serious problems with this legal position, as recognized by an increasing number of reported court decisions.

Authors’ General Conclusions and Observations:

  • Servicers and foreclosure firms are either wrong, or at least not being cautious, if they attempt to foreclose, or appear in court, without having a valid pre-complaint or pre-motion Assignment of the Mortgage. Yet at the same time, Servicers and note holders place themselves at risk of preference and avoidable transfer issues in bankruptcy cases if, for example, endorsements and Assignments that they rely upon to support claims to secured status occur or are recorded after or soon before bankruptcy filing.
  • In addition any Servicer, Lender, or Securitization Trustee is either wrong, or at least not being cautious, if it ever: (1) claims in any communications to a consumer or to the Court in a judicial proceeding that it is the Note holder unless they are, at the relevant point in time, actually the holder and owner of the Note as determined under UCC law; or (2) undertakes to enforce rights under a Mortgage without having and recording a valid Assignment.
  • The UCC deals only with enforcing the Note. Enforcing the Mortgage on the other hand is governed by the state’s real property and foreclosure laws, which generally contain crucial provisions regarding actions required to be taken by the “note holder” or “beneficiary.” State law may or may not authorize particular actions to be taken by servicers or agents of the holder of the Note.
  • For the Servicer to have “the rights of the holder” under the UCC it must be acting in accordance with its contract. For example, if the Servicer claims to have possession of the Note, did it follow the procedures contained in the “Release of Documents” section of the Custodial Agreement in obtaining possession? Does the Servicer really have “constitutional” standing under either Federal or State law to enforce the Note even if it is a “holder” if it does not have any “pecuniary” or economic interest in the Note? In short, the concept of constitutional standing involves some injury in fact and it is hard to see how a mere “place-holder” or “Nominee” could ever over-come such a hurdle unless it actually owned the Note or some real interest in the same.
  • The Servicer should have the burden of explaining the legal reasons supporting its standing and authority to act. Sometimes Servicers have difficulty maintaining a consistent story in this regard. Is the Servicer claiming to be the actual holder, or the holder and the owner, or merely an authorized agent of the true holder? If it is claiming some agency, what proof does it have to support such a claim? What proof is required? Sometimes this is just academic legal hair-splitting but many times it involves serious issues of fact. For example, what if the attorney for the Servicer asserts to the court that his or her client actually owns the Note, but the Fannie Mae website reports that Fannie is the owner? What if the MERS website reports that the Plaintiff is just the “Servicer?” What if the pre-complaint correspondence to the borrower names some entirely different party as the holder and indicated that the current plaintiff is only the Servicer?
  • Finally, the Servicer always has an obligation to be factually accurate in borrower communications and legal proceedings, and to supervise employees and vendors and attorneys to assure that Note endorsements, Assignments of Mortgage, and affidavits are executed by persons with valid corporate authority, and not falsified nor offered for any improper purpose.

The focus of the default servicing industry must move from “how fast we can get things done” to “how honestly and accurately can we be in presenting the proper documentation to the courts and to the borrowers”. Judicial proceedings are not like NASCAR races where the fastest lawyer always wins. Judicial proceedings are all about finding the truth no matter how long it takes and regardless of the time and difficulties involved.

November 14, 2009

Richard D. Shepherd

The Law Office of Richard Shepherd

Troy, Virginia (W.D.VA)

richard@CentralVaLaw.com

www.CentralVaLaw.com

O. Max Gardner III

Gardner & Gardner PLLC

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RESTLESS CONSUMERS GROW WEARY OF BANK CONTROL OVER REGULATION

“Regulators have missed more than two dozen deadlines for new Dodd-Frank rules, which cover a swath of topics, be it consumer protections in mortgage lending, bank responsibilities for dealing with city governments, or future resolution powers for troubled financial institutions. The legislation was the government’s main response to the financial crisis, and it is supposed to rein in Wall Street and reduce the kind of risk that led to the market implosion three years ago.”

 

EDITOR’S COMMENT: As the 2012 campaign starts to heat up and the campaign contributions start to flow, the Banks are growing in influence in Washington even as they lose the confidence of the American people. Legislators and regulators alike are feeling the pressure to bow to Bank money-peddling. The loser is not just the American Consumer, it is the nation itself. World civil unrest, revolution and dire physical and financial circumstances pile up fueled by the continuation of Wall Street illusions despite the consequences to people — including their ability to find food and shelter, But the Banks, owned by shareholders but whose existence confers benefits on management without risk, continue their game of pretending that the $600 trillion in derivatives is real.

Here is a synopsis of the situation: We have $50 trillion in actual currency issued by all the governments of the world. Wall Street has issued $600 trillion in “cash equivalent” derivative products whose value can only be measured in currency — which is 1/12th of what Wall Street issued. The derivatives, derive their value from currency denominated assets like mortgages. The mortgages are not in any pools despite Wall Street’s assurances to the contrary. Hence, the investors who are holding or trading within the $600 trillion bubble of fake cash equivalents,are holding nothing. Central Bankers, regulators, legislators are scared to death and they are being paid off by Wall Street to keep the $600 trillion pressure on the world’s population.

The fear is that the sky will fall if the the truth be acknowledged. The truth is known by everyone who has any interest in the subject but nobody is doing anything other than kicking the can down the road. Nobody wants to admit that they are allowing a lie to be lived and promoted in our midst. The $600 trillion is no more real than any other fictional character. The courts are slowly but surely grinding their way to the truth of this essential factor. In the meanwhile we stay distracted from real policy based upon real economics.

The fact is that not only are derivatives fake, but the debt on which they purportedly derive their value is largely nonexistent. But as long as the myth is perpetuated, the wealth stays with a few hundred people around the world pulling the strings of the world’s purse. Legally and factually, the wealth was never transferred from the people and withheld courts will eventually arrive at exactly that conclusion sending the megabanks crashing down — only to discover that the sky that was supposed to fall, was left undisturbed. The entire process is going to take decades to work out but those who persist in litigation will get their rewards far earlier than those who remain ignorant or apathetic about their personal economic status.

Hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of people, who think they defaulted on mortgage obligations will discover that there was no default, there was no mortgage and the foreclosure was a fake. As the enormous title problems are sorted out, those who move now, will be rewarded by a shift of wealth that brings them from being broke to being comfortable. It is highly probable that the collateral benefit to borrowers will result in a fairly wealthy middle class, as all loans come under scrutiny as a result of the false securitization scheme. Consumers will emerge out from under the fake mountain of debt caused by inflated mortgages, unconscionable student loans, auto loans, and other consumer loans. Until that day of redemption, we shall continue to suffer.

Still Writing, Regulators Delay Rules

By

Regulators overseeing financial reform are delaying many of the planned changes in the $600 trillion market for complex securities known as derivatives because they are running drastically behind schedule in writing their new rules.

The Securities and Exchange Commission said on Wednesday that market participants would not have to comply with many aspects of derivatives reform scheduled to take effect in mid-July. It declined to specify how long the delay would be in the equity derivatives it oversees.

The announcement follows a similar statement on Tuesday from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, although that agency imposed a year-end deadline for many of the changes in the derivatives it oversees.

The idea of changing the deadline had been divisive at the commodities commission. The two Republicans on the five-commissioner board had wanted to create an extension without a deadline. The Democrats, however, wanted a specific date to keep some pressure on the group to complete the rule writing, according to three participants in the meeting.

The commissioners ultimately agreed unanimously on the extension, but the dispute illustrates the political divide that has been brewing in Washington for months as regulators work to roll out hundreds of rules required by the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation of last summer.

Though the Dodd-Frank measure was passed with bipartisan support, it has come under fierce criticism from many Republicans as well as some Democrats with financial constituents, who have urged regulators to slow the rule writing. Republicans are also trying to shave financing from agencies like the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which now have a larger workload in writing and enforcing scores of new rules.

Gary Gensler, the Democratic chairman of the trading commission, testified in Congress on Wednesday about the agency’s limited resources. In an interview, he pointed out that the derivatives market is seven times the size of the futures market, which his agency has long overseen.

“This agency has been asked to take on a very expanded mission,” he said. The decision this week to push back the derivatives deadline, he added, “was not about delay. It was just giving the market the certainty while we’re completing the rules.”

Regulators have missed more than two dozen deadlines for new Dodd-Frank rules, which cover a swath of topics, be it consumer protections in mortgage lending, bank responsibilities for dealing with city governments, or future resolution powers for troubled financial institutions. The legislation was the government’s main response to the financial crisis, and it is supposed to rein in Wall Street and reduce the kind of risk that led to the market implosion three years ago.

Observers say that the two delays this week make sense: with regulators so behind schedule, putting some of the rules into effect could be problematic. Still, regulatory experts warned that delays could be dangerous.

“Sounds like common sense to me,” said James J. Angel, a professor at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown. “The regulators have this tsunami of work dumped on them, and it’s important to get it right.”

Still, he said, it is unclear whether the banks calling for a slowdown have legitimate concerns.

“You don’t know whether they’re just whining because they’re trying to get a few more pennies or if this is really Armageddon to them,” he said.

At hearings, bank officials have urged regulators to move slowly, saying that the rules will be better if created with greater care and consideration. The industry also has warned against what its officials call the “big bang” approach, under which many rules would take effect at once.

One difficulty is that many rules are related, and some rules drive others. Nowhere is this more true than in the derivatives market, where financial insurance contracts are written to protect against many different risks.

For instance, the rules to impose position limits in some commodities derivatives, like oil contracts, may depend in part on how much money financial players hold in different investments. But the commodities commission has been unable to demand all the data on these holdings — and the banks have not been volunteering — until it has written certain other rules and passed the one-year mark on the law.

The law specified that some derivatives rules would go into effect next month, no matter the status of rule writing, and those are what both financial commissions voted to delay this week.

At the commodities commission, Democrats and Republicans agreed that the July deadline for many rules was untenable because its staffers had not even finished defining terms like “swaps dealer” — an entity that buys and sells a type of derivative.

Jill Sommers, one of the Republican commissioners at the commodities regulator, said in an interview that she absolutely wants the rules to go into effect. But the commission needs to take its time, she said. “We didn’t want a date,” Ms. Sommers said. “We’re trying to makes sure we don’t miss anything. I think we need to be very deliberate.”

One of her opponents in the meeting was Bart Chilton, a Democrat. He said in an e-mail on Wednesday that he worried that having no deadline would take away much needed urgency. “We should be putting the hammer down and making up for lost time,” he wrote. “That means doing what the agency has done: given us a time certain — the end of the year — in which to complete our work.”

The commission has three Democrats, but one, Michael Dunn, has his term expiring this summer. He can stay on beyond that date, but if he chooses to leave, a successor is sure to face fierce confirmation questions in the Senate, where lawmakers are heavily divided on the new rules.

Edward Wyatt contributed reporting.

NY APPELLATE COURT: MERS IS A FICTIONAL CHARACTER — LIKE DONALD DUCK

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EDITOR’S NOTE: OK they never mentioned Donald Duck. But the point is the same. The appellate and trial courts, on virtually a daily basis are eviscerating not only the current foreclosure cases but casting a long shadow over the ones that have already been “completed.” It is clear that the designation of MERS was the designation of anon-entity. They might have well as not entered any name. Thus MERS could not foreclose and MERS could not not transfer what it did not have. The strategy of crating paper trails to give life to a fictional character and the illusion of securitization has been shattered in three states in about as many days.

 

KABOOM | NY Appellate Division | Bank of NY v Silverberg – MERS Does NOT Have The Right to Foreclose on a Mortgage in Default or Assign That Right to Anyone Else

4closureFraud's picture

Submitted by 4closureFraud on 06/13/2011 13:04 -0400

Appeals Court Clarifies MERS Role in Foreclosures

The ubiquitous Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, nominal holder of millions of mortgages, does not have the right to foreclose on a mortgage in default or assign that right to anyone else if it does not hold the underlying promissory note, the Appellate Division, Second Department, ruled Friday. “This Court is mindful of the impact that this decision may have on the mortgage industry in New York, and perhaps the nation,” Justice John M. Leventhal wrote for a unanimous panel in Bank of New York v. Silverberg, 17464/08. “Nonetheless, the law must not yield to expediency and the convenience of lending institutions. Proper procedures must be followed to ensure the reliability of the chain of ownership, to secure the dependable transfer of property, and to assure the enforcement of the rules that govern real property.” The opinion noted that MERS is involved in about 60 percent of the mortgages originated in the United States.

From the ruling…

(Emphasis added by 4F)

Decided on June 7, 2011

SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK
APPELLATE DIVISION : SECOND JUDICIAL DEPARTMENT

ANITA R. FLORIO, J.P.
THOMAS A. DICKERSON
JOHN M. LEVENTHAL
ARIEL E. BELEN, JJ.
2010-00131
(Index No. 17464-08)

[*1]Bank of New York, etc., respondent,
v
Stephen Silverberg, et al., appellants, et al., defendants.

LEVENTHAL, J.This matter involves the enforcement of the rules that govern real property and whether such rules should be bent to accommodate a system that has taken on a life of its own. The issue presented on this appeal is whether a party has standing to commence a foreclosure action when that party’s assignor—in this case, Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (hereinafter MERS) —was listed in the underlying mortgage instruments as a nominee and mortgagee for the purpose of recording, but was never the actual holder or assignee of the underlying notes. We answer this question in the negative.

On appeal, the defendants argue that the plaintiff lacks standing to sue because it did not own the notes and mortgages at the time it commenced the foreclosure action. Specifically, the defendants contend that neither MERS nor Countrywide ever transferred or endorsed the notes described in the consolidation agreement to the plaintiff, as required by the Uniform Commercial Code. Moreover, the defendants assert that the mortgages were never properly assigned to the plaintiff because MERS, as nominee for Countrywide, did not have the authority to effectuate an assignment of the mortgages. The defendants further assert that the mortgages and notes were bifurcated, rendering the mortgages unenforceable and foreclosure impossible, and that because of such bifurcation, MERS never had an assignable interest in the notes. The defendants also contend [*3]that the Supreme Court erred in considering the corrected assignment of mortgage because it was not authenticated by someone with personal knowledge of how and when it was created, and was improperly submitted in opposition to the motion.

Here, the consolidation agreement purported to merge the two prior notes and mortgages into one loan obligation. Countrywide, as noted above, was not a party to the consolidation agreement. ” Either a written assignment of the underlying note or the physical delivery of the note prior to the commencement of the foreclosure action is sufficient to transfer the obligation, and the mortgage passes with the debt as an inseparable incident'”

Therefore, assuming that the consolidation agreement transformed MERS into a mortgagee for the purpose of recording—even though it never loaned any money, never had a right to receive payment of the loan, and never had a right to foreclose on the property upon a default in payment—the consolidation agreement did not give MERS title to the note, nor does the record show that the note was physically delivered to MERS. Indeed, the consolidation agreement defines “Note Holder,” rather than the mortgagee, as the “Lender or anyone who succeeds to Lender’s right under the Agreement and who is entitled to receive the payments under the Agreement.” Hence, the plaintiff, which merely stepped into the shoes of MERS, its assignor, and gained only that to which its assignor was entitled (see Matter of International Ribbon Mills [Arjan Ribbons], 36 NY2d 121, 126; see also UCC 3-201 [“(t)ransfer of an instrument vests in the transferee such rights as the transferor has therein”]), did not acquire the power to foreclose by way of the corrected assignment.

In sum, because MERS was never the lawful holder or assignee of the notes described and identified in the consolidation agreement, the corrected assignment of mortgage is a nullity, and MERS was without authority to assign the power to foreclose to the plaintiff. Consequently, the plaintiff failed to show that it had standing to foreclose. MERS purportedly holds approximately 60 million mortgage loans (see Michael Powell & Gretchen Morgenson, MERS? It May Have Swallowed Your Loan, New York Times, March 5, 2011), and is involved in the origination of approximately 60% of all mortgage loans in the United States (see Peterson at 1362; Kate Berry, Foreclosures Turn Up Heat on MERS, Am. [*6]Banker, July 10, 2007, at 1). This Court is mindful of the impact that this decision may have on the mortgage industry in New York, and perhaps the nation. Nonetheless, the law must not yield to expediency and the convenience of lending institutions. Proper procedures must be followed to ensure the reliability of the chain of ownership, to secure the dependable transfer of property, and to assure the enforcement of the rules that govern real property. Accordingly, the Supreme Court should have granted the defendants’ motion pursuant to CPLR 3211(a) (3) to dismiss the complaint insofar as asserted against them for lack of standing. Thus, the order is reversed, on the law, and the motion of the defendants Stephen Silverberg and Fredrica Silverberg pursuant to CPLR 3211(a)(3) to dismiss the complaint insofar as asserted against them for lack of standing is granted.

FLORIO, J.P., DICKERSON, and BELEN, JJ., concur.

ORDERED that the order is reversed, on the law, with costs, and the motion of the defendants Stephen Silverberg and Fredrica Silverberg pursuant to CPLR 3211(a)(3) to dismiss the complaint insofar as asserted against them for lack of standing is granted.

Full opinion below…

It is well worth the read…

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