Another PennyMac Crash! CA Case for Homeowner

American jurisprudence is clearly still struggling with the fact that in most cases the forecloser either does not exist or does not have any interest in the loans they seek to enforce. In virtually all instances PennyMac is acting in the role of a sham conduit while allowing its name to be used as the front for a nonexistent lender.

Such foreclosers use semantics and legal procedure to create and cover-up the illusion of “ownership” of the debt (the loan) and the illusion of having the rights to enforce the note bestowed by a true creditor. This case opinion is correct in every respect and it conforms with basic black letter law in all 50 states; yet courts still strive to find ways to allow disinterested parties to foreclose.

Get a consult and Chain of Title Analysis! 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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Hat tip to Bill Paatalo
see GULIEX v. PennyMAC HOLDINGS LLC, Cal: Court of Appeal, 5th Appellate Dist. 2017 https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=9436462246811997539&hl=en&lr=lang_en&as_sdt=2006&as_vis=1&oi=scholaralrt
This case amply demonstrates the following:
  1. The need for a chain of title report
  2. The need for a chain of title analysis
  3. The need for legal research and good memorandums of law
  4. The need to understand “chains of title” or “chains of events” and the laws applicable thereto (e.g. judicial notice, legal presumptions etc.)
  5. The need to formulate a presentation to the judge that is very persuasive.
  6. The need to appeal when trial judges don’t apply the law or don’t apply the law correctly.

The following are significant quotes from the case.

Plaintiff, a homeowner and borrower, sued the defendant financial institution for wrongs allegedly committed in connection with a nonjudicial foreclosure sale of his residence. Plaintiff’s main theory was that the financial institution did not own his note and deed of trust and, therefore, lacked the authority to foreclose under the deed of trust. (e.s.)

The financial institution convinced the trial court that (1) it was, in fact, the beneficiary under the deed of trust, (2) a properly appointed substitute trustee conducted the foreclosure proceedings, and (3) the plaintiff lacked standing to claim the foreclosure was wrongful. The financial institution argued its chain of title to the deed of trust was established by facts stated in recorded assignments of deed of trust and a recorded substitution of trustee. The trial court took judicial notice of the recorded documents. Based on these documents, the court sustained a demurrer to some of the causes of action and granted summary judgment as to the remaining causes of action. On appeal, plaintiff contends he has standing to challenge the foreclosure and, furthermore, the judicially noticed documents do not establish the financial institution actually was the beneficiary under the deed of trust. We agree. (e.s.)

As to standing, the holding in Yvanova v. New Century Mortgage Corp. (2016) 62 Cal.4th 919 (Yvanova) clearly establishes plaintiff has standing to challenge the nonjudicial foreclosure on the ground that the foreclosing party lacked the authority to initiate the foreclosure because it held no beneficial interest under the deed of trust. (e.s.)

As to establishing facts by judicial notice, it is well recognized that courts may take notice of the existence and wording of recorded documents, but not the disputed or disputable facts stated therein. (e.s.) (Yvanova, supra, 62 Cal.4th at p. 924, fn. 1; Herrera v. Deutsche Bank National Trust Co. (2011) 196 Cal.App.4th 1366, 1375 (Herrera).) Under this rule, we conclude the facts stated in the recorded assignments of deed of trust and the substitution of trustee were not subject to judicial notice. (e.s.) Therefore, the financial institution did not present evidence sufficient to establish its purported chain of title to the deed of trust. Consequently, the financial institution failed to show it was the owner of the deed of trust and had the authority to foreclose on plaintiff’s residence.

We therefore reverse the judgment and remand for further proceedings.

….

The Links in PennyMac’s Purported Chain of Title

“Links” in a chain of title are created by a transfer of an interest in the underlying property from one person or entity to another. An examination of each link in the purported chain of title relied upon by PennyMac reveals that certain links were not established for purposes of the demurrer. Our analysis begins with a description of each link in the purported chain (and each related document, where known), beginning with the husband and wife who sold the residence to Borrower and ending with the trustee’s sale to PennyMac.

Link One-Sale: Clarence and Betty Dake sold the residence to Borrower pursuant to a grant deed dated April 19, 2005, and recorded on June 30, 2005. The parties do not dispute this transfer.

Link Two-Loan: Borrower granted a beneficial interest in the residence to Long Beach Mortgage Company pursuant to a deed of trust dated June 21, 2005, and recorded on June 30, 2005. The parties do not dispute this transfer.

Link Three-Purported Transfer: Long Beach Mortgage Company purportedly transferred its rights to Washington Mutual Bank by means of a document or transaction not identified in the appellate record. Also, the appellate record does not identify when the purported transaction occurred. Borrower disputes the existence of this and subsequent transfers of the deed of trust. (e.s.)

Link Four-Purported Transfer: Washington Mutual Bank purportedly transferred its rights to JPMorgan Chase Bank, National Association in an unidentified transaction at an unstated time. (e.s.)

Link Five-Assignment: JPMorgan Chase Bank, National Association, successor in interest to Washington Mutual Bank, successor in interest to Long Beach Mortgage Company, purportedly transferred the note and all beneficial interest under the deed of trust to “JPMorgan Chase Bank, National Association” pursuant to an assignment of deed of trust dated July 25, 2011, and recorded on July 26, 2011.

Link Six(A)-Assignment: JPMorgan Chase Bank, National Association transferred all beneficial interest in the deed of trust to PennyMac Mortgage Investment Trust Holdings I, LLC pursuant to a “California Assignment of Deed of Trust” dated September 14, 2013, and recorded on November 15, 2013.

Link Seven-Trustee’s Sale: California Reconveyance Company, as trustee under the deed of trust, (1) sold the residence to PennyMac at a public auction conducted on November 20, 2013, and (2) issued a trustee’s deed of sale dated November 21, 2013 and recorded on November 22, 2013. PennyMac, the grantee under the deed upon sale, was described in the deed as the foreclosing beneficiary.

Link Six(B)-Purported Assignment: The day after the trustee’s sale, JPMorgan Chase Bank, National Association executed a “Corporate Assignment of Deed of Trust” dated November 21, 2013, purporting to transfer the deed of trust without recourse to PennyMac Holdings, LLC. The assignment was recorded November 22, 2013. This assignment was signed (1) after JPMorgan Chase Bank, National Association had signed and recorded the “California Assignment of Deed of Trust” described earlier as Link Six(A) and (2) after the trustee’s sale was conducted on November 20, 2013. Consequently, it is unclear whether any interests were transferred by this “corporate” assignment.

3. Links Three and Four Are Missing from the Chain

Postscript from Editor: This Court correctly revealed the fraudulent strategy of the banks, to wit: they created the illusion of multiple transfers giving the appearance of a solid chain of title BUT 2 of the transfers were fake, leaving the remainder of the chain void.

OneWest — One Step Up from Donald Duck

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

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Well at least OneWest legally exists and it didn’t originate any loans even though it sometimes tries to give that appearance. But it is clear that this company was literally formed over a weekend to takeover IndyMac business. In so doing it made a number of dubious deals in which it was not to be liable for the shoddy, fabricated documents, and unlawful practices of IndyMac which claimed ownership of loans that were already sold into the secondary market and then subjected to conflicting claims of ownership. It looks like the return on investment was infinite.

OneWest Bank Targeted By Insurer Over $335M In MBS Losses

Law360, New York (August 13, 2012, 9:41 PM ET) — Assured Guaranty Municipal Corp. fired off a suit against OneWest Bank FSB in California on Thursday, claiming the company’s shoddy loan servicing was to blame for some of the $335 million it has shelled out in insurance claims related to mortgage-backed securities.

The lawsuit in Los Angeles court says that since OneWest took over IndyMac Bank FSB’s role as servicer of mortgage loans underlying residential MBS, the loans have experienced delinquencies and defaults at a severe and unexpected rate. That in turn has forced Assured to…

The question is whose loss was this, and why did the insurance company pay it off? The bigger question is that if the loss was paid off, why wasn’t allocated to the underlying assets whose decline in value was the basis of the loss claim?

OneWest Bank Can’t Shake HAMP Loan Class Action

Law360, New York (October 23, 2012, 3:11 PM ET) — OneWest Bank FSB on Monday failed to escape an Illinois class action accusing it of bungling a mortgage loan modification application by unreasonably delaying its response and imposing late fees for payments that were not actually late.

Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman rejected OneWest’s argument that lead plaintiff Stacey Fletcher lacked standing, finding that her complaint alleged sufficient injury from OneWest’s allegedly unreasonable delay in responding to her request for a modified loan under the Home Affordable Modification Program.

Fletcher further accuses OneWest of reporting her to…

It seems like OneWest was too busy  making claims for loss sharing and insurance and guarantees to actually pursue modifications.

OneWest, Soros Accused Of Mortgage Scam In FCA Suit

Law360, New York (October 16, 2012, 9:47 PM ET) — A Florida resident hit OneWest Bank and billionaire majority shareholder George Soros with a False Claims Act lawsuit Monday, saying that through their connections to President Barack Obama, they had finagled a loss-sharing deal with the government that allowed them to scam homeowners and taxpayers.

James Beekman, who originally took out his mortgage with IndyMac Federal Bank, says when Soros and OneWest took over the fallen bank, they entered into a loss-sharing agreement with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Under the deal, OneWest would shoulder the…

Disclosure. Patrick Giunta and I represent Beekman. No further comment

Loan Info Confidential

By Michael Lipkin

Law360, San Diego (November 10, 2014, 6:13 PM ET) — OneWest Bank NA is trying to stop Lehman Brothers Holding Inc. from accessing confidential information about Lehman-owned loans it used to service, alleging in New York federal court that Lehman is trying to blame OneWest for its own bad investments.
In a complaint filed Friday, OneWest claims Lehman is trying to access regulated information about 27 mortgages OneWest used to service, including confidential data about borrowers that OneWest alleges Lehman doesn’t have a right to access. The loans were eventually liquidated after poor performance, and the service agreements governing them have already expired, according to the complaint.

“This action seeks to end defendants’ misguided campaign to try to force OneWest to provide them with confidential information to which the defendants are no longer entitled,” the bank said. “Doing so could subject OneWest to potential regulatory and civil liability for failing to protect private borrower information.”

Aurora Commercial Corp., formerly Lehman Brothers Bank FSB, is also named as a defendant.

Lehman allegedly bought the loans as part of a pool from IndyMac Bank FSB between 2006 and 2007, with IndyMac retaining the right to service the loans. After IndyMac was shut down by the Office of Thrift Supervision in 2008, OneWest bought the servicing rights from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. The deal expressly said OneWest was not liable for previous servicing conduct, according to the complaint.

For the full article see http://www.law360.com

ALL MAJOR FINANCIAL FEDERAL AGENCIES ENTER CEASE AND DESIST ORDER AGAINST MERS

CLE SEMINAR: SECURITIZATION WORKSHOP FOR ATTORNEYS — REGISTER NOW

COMBO Title and Securitization Search, Report, Documents, Analysis & Commentary SEE LIVINGLIES LITIGATION SUPPORT AT LUMINAQ.COM

ALL MAJOR FEDERAL AGENCIES JOIN IN ORDERING MERS TO STOP CURRENT PRACTICES

Just released. Thanks to Dan Edstrom our senior securitization analyst for alerting me.

SEE MERS_Cease_and_Desist_2011_04_13

MERS AND MERSCORP ENTERED INTO A CONSENT CEASE AND DESIST ORDER FINDING DEFICIENCIES IN THE PRACTICES AND PROCEDURES THAT POSE A RISK TO THE MEMBER BANKS.

ABSTRACT OF ORDER

The Agencies find, and MERS and MERSCORP neither admit nor deny, the following:
(1)    MERS is a wholly-owned subsidiary of MERSCORP. MERSCORP’s shareholders include federally regulated financial institutions that own and/or service residential mortgages, including Examined Members, and other primary and secondary mortgage industry participants.
(2)    MERSCORP operates a national electronic registry that tracks beneficial ownership interests and servicing rights associated with residential mortgage loans and any changes in those interests or rights. There are approximately 5,000 participating Members, of which 3,000 are residential mortgage servicers. Members register loans and report transfers, foreclosures, and other changes to the status of residential mortgage loans on the MERS System. There are currently approximately 31 million active residential mortgage loans registered on the MERS System. Examined Members receive a substantial portion of the services provided by MERSCORP and MERS.
(3)    MERS serves as mortgagee of record and nominee for the participating Members in local land records. MERS takes action as mortgagee through documents executed by “certifying officers” of MERS. MERS has designated these individuals, who are officers or employees of Members or certain third-parties who have contractual relationships with Members, as officers of MERS. By virtue of these designations, the certifying officers execute legal documents in the name of MERS, such as mortgage assignments and lien releases.
MERS Consent Order
-4-
(4)    In connection with services provided to Examined Members related to tracking, and registering residential mortgage loans and initiating foreclosures (“residential mortgage and foreclosure-related services”), MERS and MERSCORP:
(a)    have failed to exercise appropriate oversight, management supervision and corporate governance, and have failed to devote adequate financial, staffing, training, and legal resources to ensure proper administration and delivery of services to Examined Members; and
(b)    have failed to establish and maintain adequate internal controls, policies, and procedures, compliance risk management, and internal audit and reporting requirements with respect to the administration and delivery of services to Examined Members.
(5)    By reason of the conduct set forth above, MERS and MERSCORP engaged in unsafe or unsound practices that expose them and Examined Members to unacceptable operational, compliance, legal, and reputational risks.
Pursuant to the authority vested in them by the Federal Deposit Insurance Act, as amended, 12 U.S.C. §§ 1818(b), the Bank Service Company Act, 12 U.S.C. § 1867(c)-(d), and the Federal Housing Enterprises Financial Safety and Soundness Act, 12 U.S.C. § 4631, the Agencies hereby ORDER that:
ARTICLE III COMPLIANCE COMMITTEE
(1)    Within twenty (20) days of this Order, the Boards of Directors of MERSCORP and MERS (the “Boards”) shall each establish and thereafter maintain a Compliance Committee of at least three (3) directors, of which at least two (2) may not be employees or officers of MERS or MERSCORP or any of their subsidiaries or affiliates. In the event of a change of the
MERS Consent Order
-5-
membership, the name of any new committee member shall be submitted to the OCC Deputy Comptroller for Large Bank Supervision (“Deputy Comptroller”). The Compliance Committee shall be responsible for monitoring and coordinating MERS’ and MERSCORP’s compliance with the terms and provisions of this Order. The Compliance Committee shall meet at least monthly and maintain minutes of its meetings.
(2)    Within ninety (90) days of this Order, and within thirty (30) days of the end of each calendar quarter thereafter, the Compliance Committee shall submit a written progress report to the Boards setting forth in detail its actions taken to comply with each Article of this Consent Order, and the results and status of those actions.
(3)    The Boards shall forward a copy of the Compliance Committee’s report, with any additional comments by the Boards, to the Deputy Comptroller and the OCC Examiner-in- Charge within ten (10) days of receiving such report.
ARTICLE IV ACTION PLAN
(1)    Within ninety (90) days of this Order, MERS and MERSCORP shall jointly develop and submit to the Deputy Comptroller an acceptable plan containing a complete description of the actions that are necessary and appropriate to achieve compliance with the terms and provisions of this Order (“Action Plan”), as well as the resources to be devoted to the planned actions, with respect to services provided to Examined Members. In the event the Deputy Comptroller requests MERS or MERSCORP to revise the Action Plan, they shall immediately make the requested revisions and resubmit the Action Plan to the Deputy Comptroller. Following acceptance of the Action Plan by the Deputy Comptroller, MERS and
MERS Consent Order
-6-
MERSCORP shall not take any action that would constitute a significant deviation from, or material change to the requirements of the Action Plan, or this Order, unless and until MERS or MERSCORP have received a prior written determination of no supervisory objection from the Deputy Comptroller.
(2)    The Boards shall ensure that MERS and MERSCORP achieve and thereafter maintain compliance with this Order, including, without limitation, successful implementation of the Action Plan. The Boards shall further ensure that, upon implementation of the Action Plan, MERS and MERSCORP achieve and maintain effective residential mortgage and foreclosure- related services on behalf of Examined Members, as well as associated risk management, compliance, quality control, audit, training, staffing, and related functions. In order to comply with these requirements, the Boards shall:
(a)    require the timely reporting by MERS and MERSCORP management of such actions taken to comply with this Order and/or directed by either Board to be taken pursuant to this Order;
(b)    follow-up on any compliance issues with such actions in a timely and appropriate manner; and
(c)    require corrective action be taken in a timely manner for any non- compliance with such actions.
(3)    The Action Plan shall address, at a minimum: (a)    the capability of the Boards and senior management to ensure that MERS
and MERSCORP are operated in a safe and sound manner in accordance with applicable laws, regulations and requirements of this Order;
MERS Consent Order
-7-
(b)    development and implementation of a strategic plan to include a comprehensive review of business operations, including the risks associated with each business line, and recommendations to implement the strategic plan;
(c)    consistent with the strategic plan, development and implementation of a financial plan to ensure that MERSCORP and MERS have adequate financial strength to support business operations related to Examined Members. The financial plan, at a minimum, shall address:
capital;
and liquidity risk; and
(i)
(ii)
any need for additional capital, including the amount and source of
the identification, measurement, monitoring and control of funding
(iii) discretionary expenses and improve and sustain earnings, as well as maintain adequate reserves for contingency risks and liabilities;
(d)    development and implementation of a comprehensive litigation strategy to effectively manage lawsuits and legal challenges involving MERS and MERSCORP, regardless of whether MERSCORP or MERS is a named party, including early identification and tracking of such lawsuits and challenges;
(e)    development and implementation of a communication plan to communicate effectively and in a timely manner with MERSCORP’s shareholders, Members including Examined Members, and relevant external parties;
(f)    development and implementation of a compliance and quality assurance program for ensuring that Examined Members implement and follow all of the Rules, including
MERS Consent Order
-8-
a profit and budget plan to include specific goals to reduce
adherence to the requirements set forth in MERS Announcement 2011-01, dated February 16, 2011;
(g)    development and implementation of a plan to ensure that MERS certifying officers are transitioned expeditiously onto the Corporate Resolution Management System (“CRMS”) in accordance with MERS’ current certifying officer policy and process;
(h)    development and implementation of appropriate standards to maintain separation of corporate functions between MERS and MERSCORP;
(i)    review of the effectiveness of the Rules, and related Procedures, Terms and Conditions to determine what, if any, additions, amendments, or deletions are appropriate;
(j)    development and implementation of enhanced information reporting practices to senior management from lower levels of each organization, and from senior management to the Boards to ensure that significant issues are properly identified and escalated, and that corporate actions are considered, taken in a timely fashion, and properly documented;
(k)    any Matter Requiring Attention in the OCC Supervisory Letter No. MERS 2011-01, dated January 19, 2011, that addresses an issue that is not otherwise covered by provisions of this Order; and
(l)    development of contingency plans to address issues that arise with respect to any of the foregoing elements of the Action Plan, including plans that address operational continuity issues in the normal course of business and in a stressed environment.
(4)    The Action Plan shall specify timelines for completion of each of the requirements of this Order. The timelines in the Action Plan shall be consistent with any deadlines set forth in this Order.

NY Appeals: AG may pursue Banks for Fraudulent Appraisal

Editor’s note: I think the standards used here apply to ALL private actions for appraisal fraud. With appraisal fraud proven, virtually all lending statutes are proven to have been violated. Appraisal fraud lies at the root of the mortgage mess with its sister, ratings fraud. Both are appraisals and both are ratings. Both were designed to track people into doing what they otherwise would never have done if they had the right information. If the either the investor to advanced the money or the borrower who took it knew that the appraisal was bogus and that there was going to be a hit virtually as fast as you drive a new car off the lot, they would not, as reasonable people, have completed the transaction or they would demanded more information.
From Jake Naumer: This goes to the root and branch of the problems we have today.The good news is that there is actually a TRUE and CORRECT VALUE for any property.It just seems that no one seems to know what it actually is.

Historically and emperically, true value has always been a fairly fixed relationship between total aggregate income and total aggregate property, with some deference for location and ammenities.All of the players with varying vested interests seek to distort the perception of value, through the use of manipulation and misinformation, in order to extract the profit that is created by the gap between true value and perceived value. Unfortunately, once the distortion machine was exposed by exacting market forces, robbery of the honorable rule abiding tax paying citizens was required to maintain the status quo.

It will not last.

Submitted by Jeff

People v First Am. Corp.
2010 NY Slip Op 04868
Decided on June 8, 2010
Appellate Division, First Department
Gonzalez, J.
Published by New York State Law Reporting Bureau pursuant to Judiciary Law § 431.
This opinion is uncorrected and subject to revision before publication in the Official Reports.

Decided on June 8, 2010

SUPREME COURT, APPELLATE DIVISION
First Judicial Department
Luis A. Gonzalez, P.J.
David B. Saxe
James M. Catterson
Rolando T. Acosta, JJ.
406796/07

1308

[*1]The People of the State of New York by Andrew Cuomo, Attorney General of the State of New York, Plaintiff-Respondent,

v

First American Corporation, et al., Defendants-Appellants.

Defendants appeal from the order of the Supreme Court, New York County (Charles Edward Ramos, J.), entered April 8, 2009, which, insofar as appealed from as limited by the briefs, denied their motion to dismiss the complaint on the ground of federal preemption.

DLA Piper LLP (US), New York (Richard F. Hans,
Patrick J. Smith, Kerry Ford
Cunningham and Jeffrey D.
Rotenberg of counsel), for
appellants.
Andrew M. Cuomo, Attorney General, New York
(Richard Dearing, Benjamin
N. Gutman and Nicole
Gueron of counsel), for respondent. [*2]

GONZALEZ, P.J.

This appeal calls upon us to determine whether the regulations and guidelines implemented by the Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS) pursuant to the Home Owner’s Lending Act of 1933 (HOLA) (12 USC § 1461 et seq.) and the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act of 1989 (FIRREA) (Pub L 101-73, 103 STAT 183 [codified in scattered sections of 12 USC]), preempt state regulations in the field of real estate appraisal.

The Attorney General claims that defendants engaged in fraudulent, deceptive and illegal business practices by allegedly permitting eAppraiseIT residential real estate appraisers to be influenced by nonparty Washington Mutual, Inc. (WaMu) to increase real estate property values on appraisal reports in order to inflate home prices. We conclude that neither federal statutes, nor the regulations and guidelines implemented by the OTS, preclude the Attorney General of the State of New York from pursuing litigation against defendants First American Corporation and First American eAppraiseIT, LLC. We further conclude that the Attorney General has standing to pursue his claims pursuant to General Business Law § 349.

In a complaint dated November 1, 2007, plaintiff, the People of the State of New York, commenced this action against defendants asserting claims under Executive Law § 63(12) and General Business Law § 349, and for unjust enrichment. The complaint alleges that in Spring 2006, WaMu hired two appraisal management companies, defendant eAppraiseIT and nonparty Lender’s Service, Inc., to oversee the appraisal process and provide a structural buffer against potential conflicts of interest between WaMu and the individual appraisers. The gravamen of the Attorney General’s complaint asserts that defendants misled their customers and the public by stating that eAppraiseIT’s appraisals were independent evaluations of a property’s market value and that these appraisals were conducted in compliance with the Uniform Standards and Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP), when in fact defendants had implemented a system allowing WaMu’s loan origination staff to select appraisers who would improperly inflate a property’s market value to WaMu’s desired target loan amount.[FN1]

Defendants moved for dismissal of the complaint pursuant to CPLR 3211, asserting that the Attorney General is prohibited from litigating his claims because HOLA and FIERRA impliedly place the responsibility for oversight of appraisal management companies on the OTS, and asserting a failure to state a cause of action. Supreme Court denied defendants’ motion, finding that HOLA and FIRREA do not occupy the entire field with respect to real estate appraisal regulation and that the enforcement of USPAP standards under General Business Law § [*3]349 neither conflicts with federal law, nor does it impair a bank’s ability to lend and extend credit. We affirm.

The Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution provides that Federal laws “shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding” (US Const, art VI, cl [2]), and it “vests in Congress the power to supersede not only State statutory or regulatory law but common law as well” (Guice v Charles Schwab & Co., 89 NY2d 31, 39 [1996], cert denied 520 US 1118 [1997]). Indeed, “[u]nder the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause (US Const, art VI, cl 2), the purpose of our preemption analysis is . . . to ascertain the intent of Congress” (Matter of People v Applied Card Sys., Inc., 11 NY3d 105, 113 [2008], cert denied
_ US _, 129 S Ct 999 [2009]).

Congressional intent to preempt state law may be established “by express provision, by implication, or by a conflict between federal and state law” (Balbuena v IDR Realty LLC, 6 NY3d 338, 356 [2006], quoting New York State Conference of Blue Cross & Blue Shield Plans v Travelers Ins. Co., 514 US 645, 654 [1995]). Express preemption occurs when Congress indicates its “pre-emptive intent through a statute’s express language or through its structure and purpose” (Altria Group, Inc. v Good, 555 US __, __, 129 S Ct 538, 543 [2008]). Absent explicit preemptive language, implied preemption occurs when “[t]he scheme of federal regulation [is] so pervasive as to make reasonable the inference that Congress left no room for the States to supplement it . . . [o]r the Act of Congress may touch a field in which the federal interest is so dominant that the federal system will be assumed to preclude enforcement of state laws on the same subject” (Rice v Santa Fe El. Corp., 331 US 218, 230 [1947]). Further, when “[a] conflict occurs either because compliance with both federal and state regulations is a physical impossibility, or because the State law stands as an obstacle to the accomplishment and execution of the full purposes and objectives of Congress,” the State law is preempted (City of New York v Job-Lot Pushcart, 213 AD2d 210, 210 [1995], affd 88 NY2d 163 [1996], cert denied 519 US 871 [1996] [internal quotation marks and citations omitted]).

Here, defendants do not argue, nor have they directed this Court’s attention to any language within HOLA or FIRREA that establishes, that Congress expressly created these statutes to supersede state law governing the causes of actions asserted in the Attorney General’s complaint. Defendants also have not argued that there exists a conflict between federal and State laws or regulations. Rather, defendants assert that because Congress has legislated so comprehensively, and that federal law so completely occupies the home lending field, the Attorney General is precluded from bringing claims against them under the theory of field preemption. Thus, the necessary starting point is to determine whether HOLA and FIRREA so occupy the field that these two statutes preempt any and all state laws speaking to the manner in which appraisal management companies provide real estate appraisal services.

In 1933, Congress enacted HOLA “to provide emergency relief with respect to home mortgage indebtedness at a time when as many as half of all home loans in the country were in default” (Fidelity Fed. Sav. & Loan Assn. v De la Cuesta, 458 US 141, 159 [1982] [internal [*4]quotation marks and citations omitted]). HOLA
created a general framework to regulate federally chartered savings associations that left the regulatory details to the Federal Home Loan Bank Board (FHLBB). The FHLBB’s authority to regulate federal savings and loans is virtually unlimited and “[p]ursuant to this authorization, the [FHLBB] has promulgated regulations governing the powers and operations of every Federal savings and loan association from its cradle to its corporate grave” (id. at 145 [internal citations and quotation marks omitted]).

When Congress passed FIRREA in 1989, it restructured the regulation of the savings association industry by abolishing the FHLBB and vested many of its functions into the newly-created OTS (see FIRREA § 301 [12 USCA § 1461 et seq.] [establishing OTS], § 401 [12 USCA § 1437] [abolishing the FHLBB]). According to FIRREA’s legislative history

“[t]he primary purposes of the [FIRREA] are to provide affordable housing mortgage finance and housing opportunities for low- and moderate-income individuals through enhanced management of federal housing credit programs and resources; establish organizations and procedures to obtain and administer the necessary funding to resolve failed thrift cases and to dispose of the assets of these institutions . . . and, enhance the regulatory enforcement powers of the depository institution regulatory
agencies to protect against fraud, waste and insider abuse” (HR Rep 101-54 [I], at 307-308, reprinted in 1989 US Code Cong to Admin News, at 103-104).

FIRREA was also designed
“to thwart real estate appraisal abuses, [by] establish[ing] a system of uniform national real estate appraisal standards. It also requires the use of state certified or licensed appraisers for real estate related transactions with the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae), the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Fannie Mac), the RTC, or certain real estate transaction [sic] regulated by the federal financial institution regulatory agencies” (HR Rep 101-54 (I), at 311, reprinted in 1989 US Code Cong to Admin News, at 107).

Further, 12 USCS § 3331, which was enacted as part of FIRREA, states that the general purpose of this statute, is
“to provide that Federal financial and public policy interests in real estate related transactions will be protected by requiring that real estate appraisals utilized in connection with federally related [*5]transactions are performed in writing, in accordance with uniform standards, by individuals whose competency has been demonstrated and whose professional conduct will be subject to effective supervision.”

The uniform standards described in 12 USCS § 3331, are defined in 12 USCS § 3339 which requires that the OTS, as a
“Federal financial institution[] regulatory agency . . . shall prescribe appropriate standards for the performance of real estate appraisals in connection with federally related transactions [FN2] under the jurisdiction of each such agency or instrumentality. These rules shall require, at a minimum — (1) that real estate appraisals be performed in accordance with generally accepted appraisal standards as evidenced by the appraisal standards promulgated by the Appraisal Standards Board of the Appraisal Foundation; and (2) that such appraisals shall be written appraisals.”
The Appraisal Standards Board (ASB) of the Appraisal Foundation promulgates the appraisal standards mandated by 12 USC § 3339 and are called USPAP. The Appraisal Foundation is a private “not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of professional valuation [and] was established by the appraisal profession in the United States in 1987″ (Welcome to The Appraisal Foundation [The Appraisal Foundation], https://netforum.avectra.com/eWeb/StartPage.aspx?Site=TAF [accessed May 27, 2010]). The ASB is responsible for “develop[ing], interpret[ing] and amend[ing]” USPAP (Welcome to The Appraisal Foundation, https://netforum.avectra.com/eWeb/
DynamicPage.aspx?Site=TAF & WebCode=ASB [accessed May 27, 2010]). However, “[e]ach U.S. State or Territory has a State appraiser regulatory agency, which is responsible for certifying and licensing real estate appraisers and supervising their appraisal-related activities, as required by Federal law” (State Regulatory Information [The Appraisal Foundation], https://netforum.avectra.com/eWeb/DynamicPage.aspx?Site=taf & WebCode=RegulatoryInfo [accessed May 27, 2010]; see also State Appraiser Regulatory Programs > State Contact Information [Appraisal Subcommittee], https://www.asc.gov/State-Appraiser- Regulatory-Programs/StateContactInformation.aspx [accessed May 27, 2010] [listing each State appraiser regulatory agency’s website]). Further, the OTS itself has determined that

“[i]t does not appear that OTS is required by title XI of FIRREA to [*6]implement an appraisal regulation that reaches all the activities of savings and loan holding companies, at least to the extent that those activities are unrelated to the safety and soundness of savings associations or their subsidiaries. Neither the language of Title XI nor its legislative history indicate that Congress intended title XI to apply to the wide range of activities engaged in by savings and loan holding companies and their non-saving association subsidiaries” (55 Fed Reg 34532, 34534-34535 [1990], codified at 12 CFR 506, 545, 563, 564 and 571).

Indeed, the OTS encourages financial institutions
“to make referrals directly to state appraiser regulatory authorities when a State licensed or certified appraiser violates USPAP, applicable state law, or engages in other unethical or unprofessional conduct. Examiners finding evidence of unethical or unprofessional conduct by appraisers will forward their findings and recommendations to their supervisory office for appropriate disposition and referral to the state, as necessary” (OTS, Thrift Bulletin, Interagency Appraisal and Evaluation Guidelines at 10 [November 4, 1994], http://files.ots.treas. gov/84042.pdf [accessed May 27, 2010]).
In looking at the legislative history it becomes clear that Congress intended to establish

“a system of uniform real estate appraisal standards and requires the use of State certified and licensed appraisers for federally regulated transactions by July 1, 1991. . . The key . . . lies in the creation of State regulatory agencies and a Federal watchdog to monitor the standards and to oversee State enforcement. . . It is this combination of Federal and State action . . . that . . . assur[es] . . . good standards are properly enforced (135 Cong Rec S3993-01, at S4004 [April 17, 1989], 1989 WL 191505 [remarks of Senator Christopher J. Dodd]).

Thus, we conclude that neither HOLA or FIRREA preempts or precludes the Attorney General from pursuing his claims.
Having rejected defendants’ general arguments for preemption under HOLA and FIRREA, “[t]he Court’s task, then, is to decide which claims fall on the regulatory side of the ledger and which, for want of a better term, fall on the common law side” (Cedeno v IndyMac Bancorp, Inc., 2008 WL 3992304, *7, 2008 US Dist LEXIS 65337, *22 [SD NY 2008] [internal quotation marks and citation omitted]). Defendants assert that the Attorney General is preempted from pursuing his claims because subsequent to FIRREA’s passage, the OTS issued extensive [*7]regulations specifically addressing the composition and construction of appraisal programs undertaken by federal savings and loans.

It is well settled that “[a]gencies delegated rulemaking authority under a statute . . . are afforded generous leeway by the courts in interpreting the statute they are entrusted to administer” (Rapanos v United States, 547 US 715, 758 [2006]). Indeed, the OTS regulations “have no less pre-emptive effect than federal statutes” (Fidelity Fed. Sav. & Loan Assn., 458 US at 153). 12 CFR 545.2, states that regulations promulgated by the OTS are “preemptive of any state law purporting to address the subject of the operations of a Federal saving association.” However, 12 CFR 560.2(a) limits the language of 12 CFR 545.2 by setting parameters to the OTS’ authority to promulgate regulations that

“preempt state laws affecting the operations of federal savings associations when deemed appropriate to facilitate the safe and sound operation of federal savings associations, to enable federal savings associations . . . to conduct their operations in accordance with the best practices of thrift institutions in the United States, or to further other purposes of the HOLA” (12 CFR 560.2[a]).
12 CFR 560.2(b) provides a non-exhaustive list of illustrative examples of the types of state laws preempted by 12 CFR 560.2(a). Further, 12 CFR 560.2(c) states that the following types of State law are not preempted

“to the extent that they only incidentally affect the lending operations of Federal savings associations . . . (1) Contract and commercial law; (2) Real property law; (3) Homestead laws specified in 12 U.S.C. 1462a(f); (4) Tort law; (5) Criminal law; and (6) Any other law that OTS, upon review, finds: (i) Furthers a vital state interest; and (ii) Either has only an incidental effect on lending operations or is not otherwise contrary to the purposes expressed in paragraph (a) of this section.”
The OTS advises that when a court is

“analyzing the status of state laws under § 560.2, the first step will be to determine whether the type of law in question is listed in paragraph (b). If so, the analysis will end there; the law is preempted. If the law is not covered by paragraph (b), the next question is whether the law affects lending. If it does, then, in accordance with paragraph (a), the presumption arises that the law is preempted. This presumption can be reversed only if the law can clearly be shown to fit within the confines of paragraph (c). For these purposes, paragraph (c) is intended to be interpreted narrowly. Any doubt should be resolved in favor of preemption” (61 Fed Reg 50951-01, 50966-50967 [1996]).
[*8]
Defendants argue that the Attorney General’s challenges to defendants’ business practices are preempted because the conduct falls within 12 CFR 560.2(b)(5), which provides examples of loan-related fees “including without limitation, initial charges, late charges, prepayment penalties, servicing fees, and overlimit fees.” Defendants also assert that their alleged conduct is within 12 CFR 560.2(b)(9), which provides

“[d]isclosure and advertising, including laws requiring specific statements, information, or other content to be included in credit application forms, credit solicitations, billing statements, credit contracts, or other credit-related documents and laws requiring creditors to supply copies of credit reports to borrowers or applicants” (id.).

Lastly, defendants assert that their alleged conduct falls within 12 CFR 560.2(b)(10) which states that “[p]rocessing, origination, servicing, sale or purchase of, or investment or participation in, mortgages” is preempted.
The Attorney General’s complaint asserts that defendants engaged in conduct proscribed by Executive Law § 63(12)[FN3] and General Business Law § 349 [FN4]. It further alleges that defendants unjustly enriched themselves by repeated use of fraudulent or illegal business practices, in that they allowed WaMu to pressure eAppraiseIT appraisers to compromise their USPAP-required independence and collude with WaMu to inflate residential appraisal values so that the appraisals would match the qualifying loan values WaMu desired.

Under the first prong of the preemption analysis, we find that this action brought pursuant to Executive Law § 63(12), General Business Law § 349(b) and on the theory of unjust [*9]enrichment is not preempted by 12 CFR 560.2(b)(5) because it involves no attempt to regulate bank-related fees. We also find, under the first prong of the preemption analysis, that there is no preemption pursuant to 12 CFR 560.2(b)(9) because these claims do not involve a state law seeking to impose or require any specific statements, information or other content to be disclosed. Although at least one case has held that claims similar to those asserted here were preempted (see Spears v Washington Mut., Inc., 2009 WL 605835 [ND Cal 2009]), we find
under the first prong of the preemption analysis that 12 CFR 660.2(b)(10) does not preclude the Attorney General’s complaint because prosecution of the alleged conduct will not affect the operations of federal savings associations (FSA) in how they process, originate, service, sell or purchase, or invest or participate in, mortgages.

The question then becomes whether the Attorney General is nevertheless precluded from litigating his claims under the second prong of the preemption analysis. Because enjoining a real estate appraisal management company from abdicating its publicly advertised role of providing unbiased valuations is not within the confines of 12 CFR 560.2(c), we answer it in the negative.

Defendants argue the OTS’s authority under HOLA and FIRREA is not limited to oversight of a FSA and that its authority under these two statues extends over the activity regulated and includes the activities of third party agents of a FSA. Defendants assert that providing real estate appraisal services is a critical component of the processing and origination of mortgages and represents a core component of the controlling federal regime. Defendants cite 12 USC § 1464(d)(7)(D) and State Farm Bank, FSB v Reardon (539 F3d 336 [6th Cir 2008]) for
support. 12 USC § 1464(d)(7) states, in pertinent part, that

“if a savings association . . . causes to be performed for itself, by contract or otherwise, any service authorized under [HOLA] such performance shall be subject to regulation and examination by the [OTS] Director to the same extent as if such services were being performed by the savings association on its own premises . . .”
Here, it is alleged eAppraiseIT and Lender’s Service, Inc., were hired by WaMu to provide appraisal services. However, defendants are incorrect in asserting that providing real estate appraisal services is an authorized banking activity under HOLA. In an opinion letter dated October 25, 2004, OTS concluded that it had the authority to regulate agents of an FSA under HOLA because

“[i]nherent in the authority of federal savings associations to exercise their deposit and lending powers and to conduct deposit, lending, and other banking activities is the authority to advertise, market, and solicit customers, and to make the public aware of the banking products and services associations offer. The authority to conduct deposit and lending activities, and to offer banking products and services, is accompanied by the power to advertise, market, and solicit customers for such products and services . . . A state may not put operational restraints on a federal savings [*10]association’s ability to
offer an authorized product or service by restricting the association’s ability to market its products and services and reach potential customers . . . Thus, OTS has authority under the HOLA to regulate the Agents the Association uses to perform
marketing, solicitation, and customer service activities” (2004 OTS Op No. P-2004-7, at 7, http://files.ots.treas.gov/560404.pdf, 2004 OTS LEXIS 6, at *15 [accessed May 27, 2010]).
State Farm Bank, FSB v Reardon (539 F3d 336 [6th Cir 2008]) follows this principle. In Reardon, the plaintiff, a FSA chartered by the OTS under HOLA, decided to offer, through its independent contractor agents, first and second mortgages and home equity loans in the State of Ohio. The Sixth Circuit concluded that although the statute at issue

“directly regulates [the plaintiff FSA’s] exclusive agents rather than [the FSA] itself . . . the activity being regulated is the solicitation and origination of mortgages, a power granted to [the FSA] by HOLA and the OTS. This is also a power over which the OTS has indicated that any state attempts to regulate will be met with preemption . . . [T]he practical effect of the [statute] is that [the FSA] must either change its structure or forgo mortgage lending in Ohio. Thus, enforcement of the [statute] against [the FSA’s] exclusive agents would frustrate the purpose of the HOLA and the OTS regulations because it indirectly prohibits [the FSA] from exercising the powers granted to it under the HOLA and the OTS regulations” (Reardon, 539 F3d at 349 [internal quotation marks and citation omitted]).
Since appraisal services are not authorized banking products or services of a FSA, defendants have failed to show that the Attorney General is preempted from pursuing his claims under 12 USC § 1464(d)(7)(D). Consequently, under the second prong of the preemption analysis, the result of the Attorney General litigating his claims against a company that independently administers a FSA’s appraisal program would “only incidentally affect the lending operations of [the FSA]” (12 CFR 560.2[c]). Thus, defendants have failed to show that OTS’s regulations and guidelines preempt or preclude the Attorney General from pursuing his claims.

Defendants assert that Cedeno v IndyMac Bancorp, Inc. (2008 WL 3992304, 2008 US Dist LEXIS 65337 [SD NY 2008]) provides this Court with persuasive authority that the federal government and its regulators alone regulate the mortgage loan origination practices of FSAs including all aspects of the appraisal programs they utilize. In Cedeno, the Southern District found preemption precluded a private individual from maintaining a cause of action against a bank. It was alleged that the bank failed to disclose to the plaintiff that it selected appraisers, appraisal companies and/or appraisal management firms who would inflate the value of [*11]residential properties in order to allow the bank to complete more real estate transactions and obtain greater profits. This practice resulted in the plaintiff being misled as to the true
equity in her home. The Southern District found that the conduct of the bank was

“directly regulated by the OTS: the processing and origination of mortgages, a loan-related fee, and the accompanying disclosure. The appraisals are a prerequisite to the lending process, and are inextricably bound to it. Because the plaintiff’s claim is not a simple breach of contract claim, but asks the Court to set substantive standards for the Associations’ lending operations and practices, it is preempted” (Cedeno, 2008 WL 3992304, *9, 2008 US Dist LEXIS 65337, at *28 [internal quotation marks and citations omitted]).

Contrary to defendants’ assertions, we find that Cedeno is not applicable here because Cedeno does not reach the question as to whether HOLA, FIRREA or OTS’s regulations and guidelines are intended to regulate the conduct of real estate appraisal companies.
Annexed to the OTS’s October 25, 2004 opinion letter is a document entitled Appendix A – Conditions. In this document, OTS requires FSAs that wish to use agents to perform marketing, solicitation, customer service, or other activities related to the FSA’s authorized banking products or services to enter into written agreements that “(4) expressly set[] forth OTS’s statutory authority to regulate and examine and take an enforcement action against the agent with respect to the activities it performs for the association, and the agent’s acknowledgment of OTS’s authority” (2004 OTS Op No. P-2004-7, at 16, http://files.ots. treas.gov/560404.pdf, 2004 OTS LEXIS 6, at *37 [accessed May 27, 2010]). We note that defendants have neither asserted that such written agreements exist nor produced such documents. Thus, we conclude that the Attorney General may proceed with his claims against defendants because his challenge to defendants’ allegedly fraudulent and deceptive business practices in providing appraisal services is not preempted by federal law and regulations that govern the operations of savings and loan associations and institution-affiliated parties.

Defendants assert that the Attorney General cannot rely upon a substantive violation of a federal law to support a claim under General Business Law § 349 because this is an improper attempt to convert alleged violations of federal law into a violation of New York law. Defendants claim that where a plaintiff seeks to rely upon a substantive violation of a federal law to support a claim under General Business Law § 349, the federal law relied upon must contain a private right of action.

However, the Attorney General is statutorily charged with the duty to “[p]rosecute and defend all actions and proceedings in which the state is interested, and have charge and control of all the legal business of the departments and bureaus of the state, or of any office thereof which requires the services of attorney or counsel, in order to protect the interest of the state” (Executive Law § 63[1]). Indeed, when the Attorney General becomes aware of allegations of persistent fraud or illegality of a business, he [*12]

“is authorized by statute to bring an enforcement action seeking an order enjoining the continuance of such business activity or of any fraudulent or illegal acts, [and] directing restitution and damages’ (Executive Law § 63 [12]). He is also authorized, when informed of deceptive acts or practices affecting consumers in New York, to bring an action in the name and on behalf of the people of the state of New York to enjoin such unlawful acts or practices and to obtain restitution of any moneys or property obtained’ thereby (General Business Law § 349 [b])” (People v Coventry First LLC, 13 NY3d 108, 114 [2009]).
It is well settled that “[o]n a motion to dismiss pursuant to CPLR 3211, the court must accept the facts as alleged in the complaint as true, accord plaintiffs the benefit of every possible favorable inference, and determine only whether the facts as alleged fit within any cognizable legal theory’” (Wiesen v New York Univ., 304 AD2d 459, 460 [2003], quoting Leon v Martinez, 84 NY2d 83, 87-88 [1994]). The Attorney General’s complaint alleges that defendants publicly claimed on their eAppraiseIT website that eAppraiseIT provides a firewall between lenders and appraisers so that customers can be assured that USPAP and FIRREA guidelines are followed and that each appraisal is being audited for compliance. The Attorney General charges that defendants deceived borrowers and investors who relied on their proclaimed independence by allowing WaMu’s loan production staff to select the appraiser based upon whether they would provide high values.

We find defendants’ assertions that the Attorney General lacks standing under General Business Law § 349 and that his complaint fails to state a cause of action are without merit. Indeed, the Attorney General’s complaint references misrepresentations and other deceptive conduct allegedly perpetrated on the consuming public within the State of New York, and “[a]s shown by its language and background, section 349 is directed at wrongs against the consuming public” (Oswego Laborers’ Local 214 Pension Fund v Marine Midland Bank, 85 NY2d 20, 24 [1995]). Therefore, we find that the Attorney General’s complaint articulates a viable cause of action under General Business Law § 349, and that this statute provides him with standing.

Consequently, we conclude that defendants have failed to demonstrate that HOLA, FIRREA or the OTS’s regulations and guidelines preempt or preclude the Attorney General from pursuing the causes of action articulated in his complaint. We additionally find that the Attorney General has standing under General Business Law § 349. We have reviewed defendants’ remaining contentions and we find them without merit.

Accordingly, the order of the Supreme Court, New York County (Charles Edward Ramos, J.), entered April 8, 2009, which, insofar as appealed from as limited by the briefs, [*13]denied defendants’ motion to dismiss the complaint on the ground of federal preemption, should be affirmed, without costs.

All concur.
Order, Supreme Court, New York County (Charles Edward Ramos, J.), entered April 8, 2009, affirmed, without costs.

Opinion by Gonzalez, P.J. All concur.
Gonzalez, P.J., Saxe, Catterson, Acosta, JJ.
THIS CONSTITUTES THE DECISION AND ORDER
OF THE SUPREME COURT, APPELLATE DIVISION, FIRST DEPARTMENT.

ENTERED: JUNE 8, 2010

CLERK

Footnotes

Footnote 1: USPAP is incorporated into New York law and it prohibits a State-certified or State licensed appraiser from accepting a fee for an appraisal assignment “that is contingent upon the appraiser reporting a predetermined estimate, analysis, or opinion or is contingent upon the opinion, conclusion or valuation reached, or upon the consequences resulting from the appraisal assignment” (NY Exec Law § 160-y; 19 NYCRR 1106.1).

Footnote 2: 12 USC § 3350(4) states that “[t]he term federally related transaction’ means any real estate-related financial transaction which—(A) a federal financial institutions regulatory agency or the Resolution Trust Corporation engages in, contracts for, or regulates; and (B) requires the services of an appraiser.”

Footnote 3: Executive Law § 63(12) states, in pertinent part, that “[w]henever any person shall engage in repeated fraudulent or illegal acts or otherwise demonstrate persistent fraud or illegality in the carrying on, conducting or transaction of business, the attorney general may apply, in the name of the people of the state of New York . . . for an order enjoining the continuance of such business activity or of any fraudulent or illegal acts, directing restitution and damages. . .”

Footnote 4: General Business Law § 349(b) states, in pertinent part, that “[w]henever the attorney general shall believe from evidence satisfactory to him that any person, firm, corporation or association or agent or employee thereof has engaged in or is about to engage in any of the acts or practices stated to be unlawful he may bring an action in the name and on behalf of the people of the state of New York to enjoin such unlawful acts or practices and to obtain restitution of any moneys or property obtained directly or indirectly by any such unlawful acts or practices.”

Goldman Sachs Messages Show It Thrived as Economy Fell

Editor’s Note: Now the truth as reported here two years ago.
  • There were no losses.
  • They were making money hand over fist.
  • And this article focuses only on a single topic — some of the credit default swaps — those that Goldman had bought in its own name, leaving out all the other swaps bought by Goldman using other banks and entities as cover for their horrendous behavior.
  • It also leaves out all the other swaps bought by all the other investment banking houses.
  • But most of all it leaves out the fact that at no time did the investment banking firms actually own the mortgages that the world thinks caused enormous losses requiring the infamous bailout. It’s a fiction.
  • In nearly all cases they sold the securities “forward” which means they sold the securities first, collected the money second and then went looking for hapless consumers to sign documents that were called “loans.”
  • The securities created the intended chain of securitization wherein first the investors “owned” the loans (before they existed and before the first application was signed) and then the “loans” were “assigned” into the pool.
  • The pool was assigned into a Special Purpose Vehicle that issued “shares” (certificates, bonds, whatever you want to call them) to investors.
  • Those shares conveyed OWNERSHIP of the loan pool. Each share OWNED a percentage of the loans.
  • The so-called “trust” was merely an operating agreement between the investors that was controlled by the investment banking house through an entity called a “trustee.” All of it was a sham.
  • There was no trust, no trustee, no lending except from the investors, and no losses from mortgage defaults, because even with a steep default rate of 16% reported by some organizations, the insurance, swaps, and other guarantees and third party payments more than covered mortgage defaults.
  • The default that was not covered was the default in payment of principal to investors, which they will never see, because they never were actually given the dollar amount of mortgages they thought they were buying.
  • The entire crisis was and remains a computer enhanced hallucination that was used as a vehicle to keep stealing from investors, borrowers, taxpayers and anyone else they thought had money.
  • The “profits” made by NOT using the investor money to fund mortgages are sitting off shore in structured investment vehicles.
  • The actual funds, first sent to Bermuda and the caymans was then cycled around the world. The Ponzi scheme became a giant check- kiting scheme that hid the true nature of what they were doing.
April 24, 2010

Goldman Sachs Messages Show It Thrived as Economy Fell

By LOUISE STORY, SEWELL CHAN and GRETCHEN MORGENSON

In late 2007 as the mortgage crisis gained momentum and many banks were suffering losses, Goldman Sachs executives traded e-mail messages saying that they were making “some serious money” betting against the housing markets.

The e-mails, released Saturday morning by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, appear to contradict some of Goldman’s previous statements that left the impression that the firm lost money on mortgage-related investments.

In the e-mails, Lloyd C. Blankfein, the bank’s chief executive, acknowledged in November of 2007 that the firm indeed had lost money initially. But it later recovered from those losses by making negative bets, known as short positions, enabling it to profit as housing prices fell and homeowners defaulted on their mortgages. “Of course we didn’t dodge the mortgage mess,” he wrote. “We lost money, then made more than we lost because of shorts.”

In another message, dated July 25, 2007, David A. Viniar, Goldman’s chief financial officer, remarked on figures that showed the company had made a $51 million profit in a single day from bets that the value of mortgage-related securities would drop. “Tells you what might be happening to people who don’t have the big short,” he wrote to Gary D. Cohn, now Goldman’s president.

The messages were released Saturday ahead of a Congressional hearing on Tuesday in which seven current and former Goldman employees, including Mr. Blankfein, are expected to testify. The hearing follows a recent securities fraud complaint that the Securities and Exchange Commission filed against Goldman and one of its employees, Fabrice Tourre, who will also testify on Tuesday.

Actions taken by Wall Street firms during the housing meltdown have become a major factor in the contentious debate over financial reform. The first test of the administration’s overhaul effort will come Monday when the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, is to call a procedural vote to try to stop a Republican filibuster.

Republicans have contended that the renewed focus on Goldman stems from Democrats’ desire to use anger at Wall Street to push through a financial reform bill.

Carl Levin, Democrat of Michigan and head of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, said that the e-mail messages contrast with Goldman’s public statements about its trading results. “The 2009 Goldman Sachs annual report stated that the firm ‘did not generate enormous net revenues by betting against residential related products,’ ” Mr. Levin said in a statement Saturday when his office released the documents. “These e-mails show that, in fact, Goldman made a lot of money by betting against the mortgage market.”

A Goldman spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Goldman messages connect some of the dots at a crucial moment of Goldman history. They show that in 2007, as most other banks hemorrhaged losses from plummeting mortgage holdings, Goldman prospered.

At first, Goldman openly discussed its prescience in calling the housing downfall. In the third quarter of 2007, the investment bank reported publicly that it had made big profits on its negative bet on mortgages.

But by the end of that year, the firm curtailed disclosures about its mortgage trading results. Its chief financial officer told analysts at the end of 2007 that they should not expect Goldman to reveal whether it was long or short on the housing market. By late 2008, Goldman was emphasizing its losses, rather than its profits, pointing regularly to write-downs of $1.7 billion on mortgage assets and leaving out the amount it made on its negative bets.

Goldman and other firms often take positions on both sides of an investment. Some are long, which are bets that the investment will do well, and some are shorts, which are bets the investment will do poorly. If an investor’s positions are balanced — or hedged, in industry parlance — then the combination of the longs and shorts comes out to zero.

Goldman has said that it added shorts to balance its mortgage book, not to make a directional bet that the market would collapse. But the messages released Saturday appear to show that in 2007, at least, Goldman’s short bets were eclipsing the losses on its long positions. In May 2007, for instance, Goldman workers e-mailed one another about losses on a bundle of mortgages issued by Long Beach Mortgage Securities. Though the firm lost money on those, a worker wrote, there was “good news”: “we own 10 mm in protection.” That meant Goldman had enough of a bet against the bond that, over all, it profited by $5 million.

Documents released by the Senate committee appear to indicate that in July 2007, Goldman’s daily accounting showed losses of $322 million on positive mortgage positions, but its negative bet — what Mr. Viniar called “the big short” — came in $51 million higher.

As recently as a week ago, a Goldman spokesman emphasized that the firm had tried only to hedge its mortgage holdings in 2007 and said the firm had not been net short in that market.

The firm said in its annual report this month that it did not know back then where housing was headed, a sentiment expressed by Mr. Blankfein the last time he appeared before Congress.

“We did not know at any minute what would happen next, even though there was a lot of writing,” he told the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission in January.

It is not known how much money in total Goldman made on its negative housing bets. Only a handful of e-mail messages were released Saturday, and they do not reflect the complete record.

The Senate subcommittee began its investigation in November 2008, but its work attracted little attention until a series of hearings in the last month. The first focused on lending practices at Washington Mutual, which collapsed in 2008, the largest bank failure in American history; another scrutinized deficiencies at several regulatory agencies, including the Office of Thrift Supervision and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

A third hearing, on Friday, centered on the role that the credit rating agencies — Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s and Fitch — played in the financial crisis. At the end of the hearing, Mr. Levin offered a preview of the Goldman hearing scheduled for Tuesday.

“Our investigation has found that investment banks such as Goldman Sachs were not market makers helping clients,” Mr. Levin said, referring to testimony given by Mr. Blankfein in January. “They were self-interested promoters of risky and complicated financial schemes that were a major part of the 2008 crisis. They bundled toxic and dubious mortgages into complex financial instruments, got the credit-rating agencies to label them as AAA safe securities, sold them to investors, magnifying and spreading risk throughout the financial system, and all too often betting against the financial instruments that they sold, and profiting at the expense of their clients.”

The transaction at the center of the S.E.C.’s case against Goldman also came up at the hearings on Friday, when Mr. Levin discussed it with Eric Kolchinsky, a former managing director at Moody’s. The mortgage-related security was known as Abacus 2007-AC1, and while it was created by Goldman, the S.E.C. contends that the firm misled investors by not disclosing that it had allowed a hedge fund manager, John A. Paulson, to select mortgage bonds for the portfolio that would be most likely to fail. That charge is at the core of the civil suit it filed against Goldman.

Moody’s was hired by Goldman to rate the Abacus security. Mr. Levin asked Mr. Kolchinsky, who for most of 2007 oversaw the ratings of collateralized debt obligations backed by subprime mortgages, if he had known of Mr. Paulson’s involvement in the Abacus deal.

“I did not know, and I suspect — I’m fairly sure that my staff did not know either,” Mr. Kolchinsky said.

Mr. Levin asked whether details of Mr. Paulson’s involvement were “facts that you or your staff would have wanted to know before rating Abacus.” Mr. Kolchinsky replied: “Yes, that’s something that I would have personally wanted to know.”

Mr. Kolchinsky added: “It just changes the whole dynamic of the structure, where the person who’s putting it together, choosing it, wants it to blow up.”

The Senate announced that it would convene a hearing on Goldman Sachs within a week of the S.E.C.’s fraud suit. Some members of Congress questioned whether the two investigations had been coordinated or linked.

Mr. Levin’s staff said there was no connection between the two investigations. They pointed out that the subcommittee requested the appearance of the Goldman executives and employees well before the S.E.C. filed its case.

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