Facial Validity vs Enforceability

It is universally accepted that a mortgage or deed of trust may not enforced except by the owner of the actual debt. The debt exists regardless of whether it is in writing or not. While a promissory note might be enforced by a party who does not own the debt (Article 3 UCC), forfeiture of a homestead requires that the mortgage be enforced by the actual debt owner (Article 9 UCC), or someone who can prove the identity of the debt owner and delegation of authority from the debt owner to the party enforcing the mortgage or deed of trust. 
A facially invalid document is neither void nor unenforceable, but it does require more proof to enforce than a facially valid document.
 
If you received the money or payments were made on your behalf, you owe the money simply because of the act of receiving or benefiting from a money transfer. 
 
The debt is normally “merged” (see Case Analysis) into the promissory note if the Payee on the note and the owner of the debt are the same person or entity. If the Payee and Debt Owner are not the same entity the debt still exists even if there is no written instrument that reflects the transaction between the person or entity who advanced their own funds and the person(s) usually designated as “borrowers.” 
 
But the terms of payback can only be determined by reference to extrinsic evidence because the operative note does not name the Debt Owner nor does it show on its face any specific reference of authority on the face of the note to represent the Debt Owner. If essential terms or provisions can only be ascertained through external evidence (“Parole Evidence”) then the instrument is not facially valid. 
 
For these reasons and others, we believe the Case Analysis will reveal that both the note and the recorded encumbrance are not facially valid. The fact that an instrument is not facially valid does not mean it cannot be enforced. It simply means that no factual or legal presumptions can be applied to the instruments. In turn, that means that if someone wants to enforce the note or mortgage or deed of trust, they must allege and prove the origination of the debt by proving the elements of a monetary transaction, the identity of the Debt Owner and explicit authority of the party enforcing the debt, together with the authenticity and validity of the note and instrument of encumbrance (mortgage or deed of trust). 
 
For strategic recommendations as to how to use this information, please Order the Case Analysis which looks at BOTH recorded documentation (which is the subject  of the TERA) and court documents, correspondence, statements, notices etc. that were not recorded in county records.  
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Administrative Action You Can Use: F.D.I.C. Sues WAMU (now Chase) Ex-Chief

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

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“They focused on short-term gains to increase their own compensation, with reckless disregard for WaMu’s long-term safety and soundness,” the agency said in the 63-page complaint. “The F.D.I.C. brings this complaint to hold these highly paid senior executives, who were chiefly responsible for WaMu’s higher-risk home lending program, accountable for the resulting losses.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: READ THE COMPLAINT. In my opinion it constitutes an administrative finding by the lead federal agency that lending practices were fatally defective. In my opinion this constitutes enough, through judicial notice, to shift the burden of proof onto the other side as to most of your defenses, affirmative defenses and counterclaims. In fact, if you look at ANY complaint filed by an administrative agency, I believe it can be used as prima facie finding of wrong-doing. To the extent that a complaint from an administrative agency states that it has performed an investigation and affirmatively alleges that a particular defendant did something wrong as specifically set forth in that complaint, it is my opinion that through judicial notice, this constitutes a final finding of fact by an official agency which MUST be taken as a prima facie case.

PRACTICE NOTE: It won’t carry the same weight as a written decision following an administrative hearing, but the same law can be applied and it will carry a lot of weight.

F.D.I.C. Sues Ex-Chief of Big Bank That Failed

By ERIC DASH

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation sued the former chief executive of Washington Mutual and two of his top lieutenants, accusing them of reckless lending before the 2008 collapse of what was the nation’s largest savings bank.

The civil lawsuit, seeking to recover $900 million, is the first against a major bank chief executive by the regulator and follows escalating public pressure to hold bankers accountable for actions leading up to the financial crisis.

Kerry K. Killinger, Washington Mutual’s longtime chief executive, led the bank on a “lending spree” knowing that the housing market was in a bubble and failed to put in place the proper risk management systems and internal controls, according to a complaint filed on Thursday in federal court in Seattle.

David C. Schneider, WaMu’s president of home lending, and Stephen J. Rotella, its chief operation officer, were also accused of negligence for their roles in developing and leading the bank’s aggressive growth strategy.

“They focused on short-term gains to increase their own compensation, with reckless disregard for WaMu’s long-term safety and soundness,” the agency said in the 63-page complaint. “The F.D.I.C. brings this complaint to hold these highly paid senior executives, who were chiefly responsible for WaMu’s higher-risk home lending program, accountable for the resulting losses.”

In addition, the complaint says that Mr. Killinger and his wife, Linda, set up two trusts in August 2008 to keep his homes in California and Washington out of the reach of the bank’s creditors. Months earlier, in the spring of 2008, Mr. Rotella and his wife, Esther, made similar arrangements. The F.D.I.C. is seeking to freeze the assets of both couples and named the wives as defendants in the lawsuit.

In unusually vigorous denials, Mr. Killinger and Mr. Rotella came out swinging against the F.D.I.C. Mr. Killinger said the agency’s claims were “baseless and unworthy of the government” and its legal conclusions were “political theater.” Mr. Rotella said the action “runs counter to the facts about my relatively short time at the company,” calling it “unfair and an abuse of power.” He said the trust was for normal estate planning purposes and was set up before the bank’s downfall. Mr. Schneider, who is represented by the same lawyer as Mr. Rotella, did not release a public statement.

Although the F.D.I.C. is mainly known for its role in shuttering failed lenders, the agency has a legal obligation to bring lawsuits against former directors and officers when it finds evidence of wrongdoing.

So far, the F.D.I.C. has brought claims against 158 individuals at about 20 small banks that failed during the recent crisis. The agency is seeking a total of more than $2.6 billion in damages. But the $900 million case against the former WaMu officials is its biggest and most prominent action to date.

Federal regulators have come under fire for failing to hold executives responsible for their involvement in the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Last fall, the Securities and Exchange Commission reached a settlement with Angelo R. Mozilo, the former chief executive of Countrywide Financial, to pay a $22.5 million penalty over misleading investors about the financial condition of the giant mortgage lender.

The New York attorney general’s office has brought a civil suit against Kenneth D. Lewis over improper disclosures related to the 2008 rescue of Merrill Lynch by Bank of America, of which he was chief executive.

But several investigations into the actions of executives at the American International Group, Lehman Brothers and other financial firms have stalled — especially criminal cases, which have a much higher burden of proof.

The F.D.I.C., meanwhile, has been under intense pressure to recoup as much money as possible on behalf of Washington Mutual bondholders, who were outraged over its sale in September 2008. Critics said the agency moved too quickly to seize the troubled bank, and then allowed JPMorgan Chase to snap up its assets and branches for a mere $1.8 billion. Ever since, they have unleashed a wave of litigation and asked lawmakers to hold hearings about the controversial rescue.

In his statement, Mr. Rotella suggested the lawsuit was a way for the F.D.I.C. to extract a windfall from directors’ and officers’ insurers, which would want to settle any claims.

The F.D.I.C. complaint says that Mr. Killinger and his top lieutenants took “extreme and historically unprecedented risks” as the savings bank plunged headlong into risky mortgage lending near the height of the housing boom. As experienced bankers, they should have tempered this growth strategy and improved risk management systems to reduce potential losses if the real estate market fell, according to the complaint.

Instead, according to the complaint, they ignored the warnings of the bank’s risk managers and sank deeper into the risky subprime lending and hot real estate markets, like Florida and California. Indeed, the complaint lists more than 26 areas in which they acted recklessly, including a failure to put adequate limits on the concentration of mortgages and employee compensation programs that encouraged high loan volume at the expense of loan quality. The complaint quotes Washington Mutual’s own chief risk officer as telling Mr. Killinger, just weeks before it was seized, that the “risk chromosome” was missing from the bank’s DNA.

In lengthy statements, Mr. Killinger and Mr. Rotella disputed the basic thrust of the F.D.I.C.’s case and reiterated their belief that Washington Mutual was prematurely and unfairly seized. They also insisted that they behaved prudently, acted with constant oversight of banking regulators and took strong action to shore up the bank’s finances when market conditions worsened in late 2007 and early 2008.

“Those initiatives — once applauded by the regulators as diligent and responsible management — have, through the alchemy of Washington, D.C., politics been turned into allegations of gross negligence,” Mr. Killinger said in a statement.

non-judicial sale is NOT an available election for a securitized loan

NON-JUDICIAL STATES: THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN FORECLOSURE AND SALE:

FORECLOSURE is a judicial process herein the “lender” files a lawsuit seeking to (a) enforce the note and get a judgment in the amount owed to them (b) asking the court to order the sale of the property to satisfy the Judgment. If the sale price is lower than the Judgment, then they will ask for a deficiency Judgment and the Judge will enter that Judgment. If the proceeds of sale is over the amount of the judgment, the borrower is entitled to the overage. Of course they usually tack on a number of fees and costs that may or may not be allowable. It is very rare that there is an overage. THE POINT IS that when they sue to foreclose they must make allegations which state a cause of action for enforcement of the note and for an order setting a date for sale. Those allegations include a description of the transaction with copies attached, and a claim of non-payment, together with allegations that the payments are owed to the Plaintiff BECAUSE they would suffer financial damage as a result of the non-payment. IN THE PROOF of the case the Plaintiff would be required to prove each and EVERY element of their claim which means proof that each allegation they made and each exhibit they rely upon is proven with live witnesses who are competent — i.e., they take an oath, they have PERSONAL KNOWLEDGE (not what someone else told them),personal recall and the ability to communicate what they know. This applies to documents they wish to use as well. That is called authentication and foundation.

SALE: Means what it says. In non-judicial sale they just want to sell your property without showing any court that they can credibly make the necessary allegations for a judicial foreclosure and without showing the court proof of the allegations they would be required to make if they filed a judicial foreclosure. In a non-judicial state what they want is to SELL and what they don’t want is to foreclose. Keep in mind that every state that allows non-judicial sale treats the sale as private and NOT a judicial event by definition. In Arizona and many other states there is no election for non-judicial sale of commercial property because of the usual complexity of commercial transactions. THE POINT is that a securitized loan presents as much or more complexity than commercial real property loan transactions. Thus your argument might be that the non-judicial sale is NOT an available election for a securitized loan.

When you bring a lawsuit challenging the non-judicial sale, it would probably be a good idea to allege that the other party has ELECTED NON-JUDICIAL sale when the required elements of such an election do not exist. Your prima facie case is simply to establish that the borrower objects the sale, denies that they pretender lender has any right to sell the property, denies the default and that the securitization documents show a complexity far beyond the complexity of even highly complex commercial real estate transactions which the legislature has mandated be resolved ONLY by judicial foreclosure.

THEREFORE in my opinion I think in your argument you do NOT want to concede that they wish to foreclose. What they want to do is execute on the power of sale in the deed of trust WITHOUT going through the judicial foreclosure process as provided in State statutes. You must understand and argue that the opposition is seeking to go around normal legal process which requires a foreclosure lawsuit.

THAT would require them to make allegations about the obligation, note and mortgage that they cannot make (we are the lender, the defendant owes us money, we are the holder of the note, the note is payable to us, he hasn’t paid, the unpaid balance of the note is xxx etc.) and they would have to prove those allegations before you had to say anything. In addition they would be subject to discovery in which you could test their assertions before an evidentiary hearing. That is how lawsuits work.

The power of sale given to the trustee is a hail Mary pass over the requirements of due process. But it allows for you to object. The question which nobody has asked and nobody has answered, is on the burden of proof, once you object to the sale, why shouldn’t the would-be forecloser be required to plead and prove its case? If the court takes the position that in non-judicial states the private power of sale is to be treated as a judicial event, then that is a denial of due process required by Federal and state constitutions. The only reason it is allowed, is because it is private and “non-judicial.” The quirk comes in because in practice the homeowner must file suit. Usually the party filing suit must allege facts and prove a prima facie case before the burden shifts to the other side. So the Judge is looking at you to do that when you file to prevent the sale.

Legally, though, your case should be limited to proving that they are trying to sell your property, that you object, that you deny what would be the allegations in a judicial foreclosure and that you have meritorious defenses. That SHOULD trigger the requirement of re-orienting the parties and making the would-be forecloser file a complaint (lawsuit) for foreclosure. Then the burden of proof would be properly aligned with the party seeking affirmative relief (i.e., the party who wants to enforce the deed of trust (mortgage), note and obligation) required to file the complaint with all the necessary elements of an action for foreclosure and attach the necessary exhibits. They don’t want to do that because they don’t have the exhibits and the note is not payable to them and they cannot actually prove standing (which is a jurisdictional question). The problem is that a statute passed for judicial economy is now being used to force the burden of proof onto the borrower in the foreclosure of their own home. This is not being addressed yet but it will be addressed soon.

SECURITIZATION If They Did It Right

SECURITIZATION If They Did It Right

Sometimes it IS easier to prove a negative than a positive. Your opposition has far more facts than you do and in due process, should be required to prove them up into a prima facie case using real evidence from competent witnesses, with real documents that nobody played with before initiating foreclosure.

So let’s take a look at how all this WOULD HAVE BEEN DONE, because most judges, even today are seeing the transaction through this lens.

  1. A homeowner or prospective homeowner would apply for refinancing or a purchase money first, second or Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC).
  2. Loan Closing and Disclosures
  3. Details of the loan and loan closing, good faith estimate and closing statement are provided in some form to both the borrower and the investors who acknowledge receipt and acceptance in binding form. Presumably this would be done through the offices of the manager, agent or “Trustee” of the Special Purpose Vehicle, the name of which and contact information was disclosed to the borrower prior to closing and is confirmed at closing.
  4. Assignment of Loan into Pool, acknowledged by Borrower. Intermediaries and Investors disclosed to borrower/debtor. The lender is identified as the group of investors who have provided funding for the loan.
  5. Investors’ representative(s) identified and disclosed, with contact information.
  6. During the life of the loan, Borrower receives same statement as investor — receipts and disbursements allocable to the loan are allocated and applied to payments and loan balance. If third party payments are received for any reason by any of the intermediaries, who are all disclosed, the amount of the receipt and the method of allocation to the borrower’s loan is disclosed.
  7. If the Borrower falls delinquent, the Investors either decide as a group or through their representative, manager, agent or named Trustee whether to offer a workout or to foreclose. A modification or settlement would be negotiated with parties known to Borrower at closing or successors in interest which would have been disclosed immediately upon execution of closing documents between the investors, or part of them, and the successor(s).
  8. Any change in ownership of the loan would be a change in beneficiary and a change of Payee under the note, which would be the same party. Such change would be recorded in accordance with State Law. The change would not, under these circumstances leave the Borrower in doubt as to the amount of the obligation and whether the obligation was or should be affected by the third party transactions. If the third party transaction is intended contemporaneously with the closing with the Borrower, even if the third party is not identified, this fact would also be disclosed to the Borrower and the Investors.
  9. Insurance, credit default swaps, and other credit enhancements are identified and disclosed to the Borrower — pursuant to contractual provisions executed between the Investors as a Group or individually; provided however, the insurer or third party payor would have rights of subrogation in which upon payment under the referenced contract, they have acquired the interests of the insured parties, in order to mitigate their losses, a fact which was identified and disclosed to the borrower at the closing with the borrower.
  10. In this transparent series of transactions that are part and parcel of a single transaction consisting of many steps, the Borrower having accepted all the terms and conditions of the approval of the loan and the securitization of the loan, achieves no greater standing or defense in the event of default. The only exception would be malfeasance or misfeasance by the participants in the securitization chain wherein, disclosed or not, the loan, or part of it, was satisfied by direct or indirect payment to a representative with apparent authority over the loan and to act in the interests of the investor as an agent. If the loan was sold multiple times, neither the Borrowers liability nor the Initial investors’ asset would be effected. Any dispute would NOT include the Borrower whose obligation would be unaffected UNLESS the intermediaries receiving multiple payments for sale of the same loan or percentage interests in the same loan pool were allowed to retain the proceeds of said sale, inasmuch as this would mean that the liability of the borrower would either (a) be diminished by the excess payments or (b) spread out to investors that were not disclosed at the Borrower’s Loan Closing.
  11. In the event that the matter is referred to a foreclosure proceeding, the action (whether private non-judicial sale or public lawsuit in foreclosure) would be brought on behalf of the named investors, through their authorized representative, with a complete statement of accounting and exhibits showing the entire securitization structure and the balance due on the Borrower’s obligation, including any third party payments, whether those were allocated to payments, interest or principal, and what balance of the obligation exists. Also named as foreclosers would be those party who acceded to a subrogated interest in the Borrower’s loan in whole or in part.
  12. Since a judicial allocation would be required to determine the relative interests and priority of interests of the investors, successors and subrogated parties, it is probably not possible to initiate a non-judicial sale unless there existed an agreement between all of the parties as to those matters. Such an agreement would specifically describe the distribution of proceeds of sale, which party was entitled to enter a credit bid, and what would be done with the property if the bid resulted in a Trustee Certificate being issued giving title to the party that initiated the foreclosure.
  13. If the creditor parties were able to satisfy all the prerequisites of a non-judicial foreclosure sale and the sale took place under non-judicial circumstances, the Borrower would lose the right of redemption and the Creditor would lose the right to pursue any delinquency or deficiency resulting from the sale of the home.
  14. If the Borrower was the defendant or re-oriented as the defendant in a foreclosure lawsuit, then the borrower’s right to redemption would be retained, if State Law permits same, and the Creditor would, if State Law permits it, be allowed to pursue a deficiency judgment against the Borrower. The allegation for suing for damages to cover a deficiency would include the fact that the sale price was fair and reasonable under the circumstances. The prima facie case of the Plaintiff Creditor in those circumstances would require evidence from an appraiser or other credible resource that is admitted by the Court as competent testimony and evidence of the fair market value and the sales price. Submission of a written affidavit or document is sufficient to support the allegation, not insufficient to satisfy the requirements of establishment of a prima facie case. A competent witness with personal knowledge and recollection is required to establish the foundation of any document. Business records do not include records regularly prepared after the loan goes into default, if those records are offered to prove facts that relate to events prior to the default. SUCH RECORDS ARE ONLY ADMISSIBLE TO PROVE (WITH FOUNDATION FROM A COMPETENT WITNESS) FACTS, CIRCUMSTANCES OR EVENTS THAT OCCURRED AFTER DEFAULT.

Prima Facie Case and Burden of Proof

In Court, a prima facie case is, in plain English, the completion of a party’s burden of proof. That means if you are seeking AFFIRMATIVE relief from the Court, then you have the burden of proving your case. In order to prove your case you must present evidence. Your evidence must conform to the legal requirements or elements of your lawsuit. So for example if you want to prove a case for damages, you must prove a duty, breach of duty and damages related to the breach of that duty. If you want to prove a case for breach of contract, then you must prove up the contract, the breach of the contract and the damages from that breach. If you are seeking to have the court make the other party do something, like pay you damages, then you are seeking affirmative relief.

In judicial states, there is no issue of who has the burden of establishing a prima facie case. In non-judicial states the issue is muddled because the borrower is required to file a lawsuit even  though it is the “lender” or “creditor” who is seeking affirmative relief. For reasons expressed below, it is my opinion that the prima facie burden in ALL states lies with the the party presuming to be the “lender” or “creditor.” So in all situations in all courts, federal or state, bankruptcy or civil, the burden is on the party seeking to enforce the note or foreclose on the property because when all is said and done, the party actually seeking affirmative relief is the party seeking to recover money or property or both.

Legally, tactically and strategically, it is a mistake and perhaps malpractice to ignore this point because it is at the threshold of the courtroom that the case might be won or lost. If you ignore the point or lose the argument, you are stuck with going beyond the simple position of the homeowner — denial of the claim of the opposing party. Even the petition for temporary restraining order should be translated as the homeowner’s denial of the claim of of the “creditor” and a demand that the creditor prove up its claim.

In other words, once a homeowner denies the claim, the case automatically becomes judicial simply because the parties are in court. At that point the court must adjust the orientation of the parties such that the party claiming affirmative relief becomes the plaintiff and the homeowner becomes the defendant notwithstanding the initial pleading that brought them into court.

The essential legal question is first, what is the prima facie case, and who has the burden of proof? The party seeking affirmative relief is the party seeking to enforce the note and deed of trust (mortgage). That would be the beneficiary under the deed of trust and the party to whom the note is payable. The note is payable legally and equitably to the investors if the securitization of the note was successful. The beneficiary is also the investors, making the same presumption. The party seeking negative relief (i.e., seeking to avoid the enforcement) is the homeowner who may or may not be considered a “borrower” or “debtor” depending upon the outcome of a presentation of facts that include an accounting of ALL receipts and disbursements related to or allocable to the specific loan in question.

It is obvious that in plain language, the party initiating a non-judicial sale is seeking affirmative relief and that in cases where there is an adversary judicial proceeding, the homeowner wishes to deny the claim of the creditor. In non-judicial states where the sale is essentially a private sale NOT based upon judicial proceedings, the mistake made by judges and lawyers alike is that they become confused by the fact that homeowner brought the suit to stop the sale.

That homeowner lawsuit is actually in substance no more than a denial of the claim by the alleged beneficiary under the deed of trust. In practice, the error is compounded by making the homeowner prove a “case” based upon the homeowner’s denial. In effect, this practice presumes the existence of a prima facie case by the alleged creditor or beneficiary, which is a denial of due process. Due process means that first you make a claim, second you prove it and ONLY AFTER the claim and the proof does the opposing party have ANY obligation to offer ANY proof.

Further compounding this error in process, many such states have rules that prevent the homeowner from contesting an eviction (unlawful detainer, writ of possession) even though that is the FIRST TIME the case has been in court. In effect, the Court is making the presumption that legal process has been completed, and giving the Private Sale the status of a judicial order — and then inappropriately and without realizing it, applying the doctrine of res judicata or collateral estoppel in a case where there was no other proceeding, order, adversary hearing or any hearing on law or fact.

Therefore, in my opinion, the party who must establish a prima facie case is the party assuming the position of “creditor” or substitute lender, notwithstanding the apparent orientation of parties in the pleadings. Or, the prima facie case of the homeowner would consist of a denial that the opposing party is a creditor or that any money is due or that a default has occurred. Thus the burden would shift to the party actually seeking affirmative relief anyway. The prima facie case for the party seeking affirmative relief would require the following elements:

  • Establishment of the originating transaction
  • Establishment of chain of title as to homeowner
  • Establishment of chain of title as to obligation
  • Establishment of chain of title as to note
  • Establishment of chain of title as to deed of trust or mortgage
  • Establishment of chain of securitization documents
  • Establishment of acceptance of subject loan into each successive loan pool
  • Establishment of true party in interest and standing
  • Establishment of 1st party payments
  • Chain of 1st party payments step by step to the true party in interest
  • Chain of 3rd party payments step by step to the true party in interest
  • Establishment of allocation of 3rd party payments and receipts to subject loan
  • Accounting for all receipts and disbursements from all sources
  • Establishment of default date
  • Establishment of current status of the loan
  • Establishment of balance due
  • Establishment of encumbrance and status
  • Allocation of encumbrance to the property (if encumbrance covers future payments other than principal and interest — like taxes and insurance payable to 3rd parties, then the court must allocate a monetary value to the encumbrance for the benefit of the beneficiary)

The above elements would only be satisfied by the Court’s acceptance of testimony and documents with adequate foundation to be admitted into evidence. It would require actual persons with actual knowledge based upon personal observation, participation or experience with whatever aspect of the transaction is within the scope of their direct examination proffered by the party seeking affirmative relief. By virtue of the confusing panoply of documents, events and facts applicable to a securitized loan, it is my opinion that no legal presumptions would apply with respect to the obligation, note, encumbrance or default.

Hence, non-payment by the payor shown on the note would not give rise to the presumption of a default because of the explicit reference to third party payments, insurance and credit enhancements in the securitization documents. The party seeking affirmative relief would be required to proffer the testimony of a competent witness (probably someone from the investment banker that created the securitization chain and/or someone from the trading desk of the investment bank) that would provide a record and status of third party payments, receipts and disbursements allocable to the loan pool in which the subject loan was securitized. Failure to do so would lead to the conclusion of a failure of proof, or, in the court’s discretion, requiring the homeowner to cross examine each witness offered by the party seeking affirmative relief with the following question: “So you don’t know whether any third party made payments that would offset losses or principal in the loan pool, is that right?”

Ratings Arbitrage a/k/a Fraud

Investment banks bundled mortgage loans into securities and then often rebundled those securities one or two more times. Those securities were given high ratings and sold to investors, who have since lost billions of dollars on them.

Editor’s Note: The significance of this report cannot be overstated. Not only did the investment bankers LOOK for and CREATE loans guaranteed to fail, which they did, they sold them in increasingly complex packages more than once. So for example if the yield spread profit or premium was $100,000 on a given loan, that wasn’t enough for the investment bankers. Without loaning or investing any additional money they sold the same loans, or at least parts of those loans, to additional investors one, two three times or more. In the additional sales, there was no cost so whatever they received was entirely profit. I would call that a yield spread profit or premium, and certainly undisclosed. If the principal of the loan was $300,000 and they resold it three times, then the investment bank received $900,000 from those additional sales, in addition to the initial $100,000 yield spread profit on sale of the loan to the “trust” or special purpose vehicle.

So the investment bank kept $1 million dollars in fees, profits or compensation on a $300,000 loan. Anyone who has seen “The Producers” knows that if this “show” succeeds, i.e., if most of the loans perform as scheduled and borrowers are making their payments, then the investment bank has a problem — receiving a total of $1.3 million on a $300,000 loan. But if the loans fails, then nobody asks for an accounting. As long as it is in foreclosure, no accounting is required except for when the property is sold (see other blog posts on bid rigging at the courthouse steps documented by Charles Koppa).

If they modify the loan or approve the short sale then an accounting is required. That is a bad thing for the investment bank. But if they don’t modify any loans and don’t approve any short-sales, then questions are going to be asked which will be difficult to answer.

You make plans and then life happens, my wife says. All these brilliant schemes were fraudulent and probably criminal. All such schemes eventually get the spotlight on them. Now, with criminal investigations ongoing in a dozen states and the federal government, the accounting and the questions are coming anyway—despite the efforts of the titans of the universe to avoid that result.

All those Judges that sarcastically threw homeowners out of court questioning the veracity of accusations against pretender lenders, can get out the salt and pepper as they eat their words.

“Why are they not in jail if they did these things” asked practically everyone on both sides of the issue. The answer is simply that criminal investigations do not take place overnight, they move slowly and if the prosecutor has any intention of winning a conviction he must have sufficient evidence to prove criminal acts beyond a reasonable doubt.

But remember the threshold for most civil litigation is merely a preponderance of the evidence, which means if you think there is more than a 50-50  probability the party did something, the prima facie case is satisfied and damages or injunction are stated in a final judgment. Some causes of action, like fraud, frequently require clear and convincing evidence, which is more than 50-50 and less than beyond a reaonsable doubt.

From the NY Times: ————————

The New York attorney general has started an investigation of eight banks to determine whether they provided misleading information to rating agencies in order to inflate the grades of certain mortgage securities, according to two people with knowledge of the investigation.

by LOUISE STORY

Andrew Cuomo, the attorney general of New York, sent subpoenas to eight Wall Street banks late Wednesday.

The investigation parallels federal inquiries into the business practices of a broad range of financial companies in the years before the collapse of the housing market.

Where those investigations have focused on interactions between the banks and their clients who bought mortgage securities, this one expands the scope of scrutiny to the interplay between banks and the agencies that rate their securities.

The agencies themselves have been widely criticized for overstating the quality of many mortgage securities that ended up losing money once the housing market collapsed. The inquiry by the attorney general of New York, Andrew M. Cuomo, suggests that he thinks the agencies may have been duped by one or more of the targets of his investigation.

Those targets are Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, UBS, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Crédit Agricole and Merrill Lynch, which is now owned by Bank of America.

The companies that rated the mortgage deals are Standard & Poor’s, Fitch Ratings and Moody’s Investors Service. Investors used their ratings to decide whether to buy mortgage securities.

Mr. Cuomo’s investigation follows an article in The New York Times that described some of the techniques bankers used to get more positive evaluations from the rating agencies.

Mr. Cuomo is also interested in the revolving door of employees of the rating agencies who were hired by bank mortgage desks to help create mortgage deals that got better ratings than they deserved, said the people with knowledge of the investigation, who were not authorized to discuss it publicly.

Contacted after subpoenas were issued by Mr. Cuomo’s office late Wednesday night notifying the banks of his investigation, spokespeople for Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank declined to comment. Other banks did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

In response to questions for the Times article in April, a Goldman Sachs spokesman, Samuel Robinson, said: “Any suggestion that Goldman Sachs improperly influenced rating agencies is without foundation. We relied on the independence of the ratings agencies’ processes and the ratings they assigned.”

Goldman, which is already under investigation by federal prosecutors, has been defending itself against civil fraud accusations made in a complaint last month by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The deal at the heart of that complaint — called Abacus 2007-AC1 — was devised in part by a former Fitch Ratings employee named Shin Yukawa, whom Goldman recruited in 2005.

At the height of the mortgage boom, companies like Goldman offered million-dollar pay packages to workers like Mr. Yukawa who had been working at much lower pay at the rating agencies, according to several former workers at the agencies.

Around the same time that Mr. Yukawa left Fitch, three other analysts in his unit also joined financial companies like Deutsche Bank.

In some cases, once these workers were at the banks, they had dealings with their former colleagues at the agencies. In the fall of 2007, when banks were hard-pressed to get mortgage deals done, the Fitch analyst on a Goldman deal was a friend of Mr. Yukawa, according to two people with knowledge of the situation.

Mr. Yukawa did not respond to requests for comment.

Wall Street played a crucial role in the mortgage market’s path to collapse. Investment banks bundled mortgage loans into securities and then often rebundled those securities one or two more times. Those securities were given high ratings and sold to investors, who have since lost billions of dollars on them.

Banks were put on notice last summer that investigators of all sorts were looking into their mortgage operations, when requests for information were sent out to all of the big Wall Street firms. The topics of interest included the way mortgage securities were created, marketed and rated and some banks’ own trading against the mortgage market.

The S.E.C.’s civil case against Goldman is the most prominent action so far. But other actions could be taken by the Justice Department, the F.B.I. or the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission — all of which are looking into the financial crisis. Criminal cases carry a higher burden of proof than civil cases. Under a New York state law, Mr. Cuomo can bring a criminal or civil case.

His office scrutinized the rating agencies back in 2008, just as the financial crisis was beginning. In a settlement, the agencies agreed to demand more information on mortgage bonds from banks.

Mr. Cuomo was also concerned about the agencies’ fee arrangements, which allowed banks to shop their deals among the agencies for the best rating. To end that inquiry, the agencies agreed to change their models so they would be paid for any work they did for banks, even if those banks did not select them to rate a given deal.

Mr. Cuomo’s current focus is on information the investment banks provided to the rating agencies and whether the bankers knew the ratings were overly positive, the people who know of the investigation said.

A Senate subcommittee found last month that Wall Street workers had been intimately involved in the rating process. In one series of e-mail messages the committee released, for instance, a Goldman worker tried to persuade Standard & Poor’s to allow Goldman to handle a deal in a way that the analyst found questionable.

The S.& P. employee, Chris Meyer, expressed his frustration in an e-mail message to a colleague in which he wrote, “I can’t tell you how upset I have been in reviewing these trades.”

“They’ve done something like 15 of these trades, all without a hitch. You can understand why they’d be upset,” Mr. Meyer added, “to have me come along and say they will need to make fundamental adjustments to the program.”

At Goldman, there was even a phrase for the way bankers put together mortgage securities. The practice was known as “ratings arbitrage,” according to former workers. The idea was to find ways to put the very worst bonds into a deal for a given rating. The cheaper the bonds, the greater the profit to the bank.

The rating agencies may have facilitated the banks’ actions by publishing their rating models on their corporate Web sites. The agencies argued that being open about their models offered transparency to investors.

But several former agency workers said the practice put too much power in the bankers’ hands. “The models were posted for bankers who develop C.D.O.’s to be able to reverse engineer C.D.O.’s to a certain rating,” one former rating agency employee said in an interview, referring to collateralized debt obligations.

A central concern of investors in these securities was the diversification of the deals’ loans. If a C.D.O. was based on mostly similar bonds — like those holding mortgages from one region — investors would view it as riskier than an instrument made up of more diversified assets. Mr. Cuomo’s office plans to investigate whether the bankers accurately portrayed the diversification of the mortgage loans to the rating agencies.

Gretchen Morgenson contributed reporting

The Importance of Discovery and Motion Practice

Practically all the questions I get relate to how to prove the case that the loan was securitized. This is the wrong question. While it is good to have as much information about the pool a loan MIGHT BE INCLUDED, that doesn’t really answer the real question.

The real question is what is the identity of the creditor(s). The secondary question is what is owed on my obligation — not how much did I pay the servicer.

It might seem like a subtle distinction but it runs to the heart of the burden of proof. You can do all the research in the world and come up with the exact pool name that lists your property in the assets as a secured loan supporting the mortgage backed security that was issued and sold for real money to real investors.  But that will not tell you whether the loan was ever really accepted into the pool, whether it is still in the pool, or whether it is paid in whole or in part by third parties through various credit enhancement (insurance) contracts or federal bailout.

You must assume that everything is untrue. That includes the filings with the SEC. They may claim the loan is in the pool and even show an assignment. But as any first year law student will tell you there is no contract unless you have an offer AND an acceptance. If the terms of the pooling and service agreement say that the cutoff date is April 30 and the assignment is dated June 10, then by definition the loan is not in the pool unless there is some other documentation that overrides that very clear provision of the pooling and service agreement.

Even if it made it into the pool there are questions about the authenticity of the assignment, forgery and whether the pool structure was broken up (trust dissolved, or LLC dissolved) only to be broken up further into one or more new resecuritized pools. And even if that didn’t happen, someone related to this transaction most probably received payments from third parties. Were those allocated to your loan yet? Probably not. I haven’t heard about any borrower getting a letter with a new amortization schedule showing credits from insurance allocated to the principal originally due on the loan.

The pretender lenders want to direct the court’s attention to whether YOU paid your monthly payments, ignoring the fact that others have most likely made payments on your obligation. Remember every one of these isntruments derives its value from your loan. Therefore every payment on it needs to be credited to your loan whether the payment came from you or someone else. [You know all that talk about $20 billion from AIG going to Goldman Sachs? They are talking about YOUR LOAN!]

The error common to pro se litigants, lawyers and judges is that this is not a matter of proof from the borrower. The party sitting there at the other table in the courtroom with a file full of this information is the one who has it — and the burden of proof. Your case is all about the fact that the information was withheld and you want it now. That is called discovery. And it is in motion practice that you’ll either win the point or lose it. If you win the point about proceeding with discovery you have won the case.

You still need as much information as possible about the probability of securitization and the meaning it has in the context of the subject mortgage. But just because you don’t have it doesn’t mean the pretender lender has proved anything. What they have done, if they prevailed, is they blocked you from getting the information.

By rights you shouldn’t have to prove a thing about securitization where there is a foreclosure in process. By rights you should be able to demand proof they are the right people with the full accounting of all payments including receipts from insurance and credit default swaps. The confusion here emanating from Judges is that particularly in non-judicial states, since the borrower must bring the case to court in the first instance, the assumption is made that the borrower must prove a prima facie case that they don’t owe the money or that the foreclosing pretender lender is an impostor. That’s what you get when you convert a judicial issue into a non-judicial one on the basis of “judicial economy.”

In reality, the ONLY way that non-judicial statutes can be constitutionally applied is that if the borrower goes to the trouble of raising an objection by bringing the matter to court, the burden of proof MUST shift immediately to the pretender lender to show that in a judicial proceeding they can establish a prima facie case to enforce the obligation, the note and the mortgage (deed of trust). ANY OTHER INTERPRETATION WOULD UNCONSTITUTIONALLY DENY THE BORROWER THE RIGHT TO A HEARING ON THE MERITS WHEREIN THE PARTY SEEKING AFFIRMATIVE RELIEF (THAT IS THE FORECLOSING PARTY, NOT THE BORROWER) MUST PROVE THEIR CASE.

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