Discovery Changes and Broadens After Hawaii Supreme Court Decision

Based on questions that greeted me when I got to my desk this morning, here are just some of the thoughts that apply — a case review and analysis for each case being necessary to actually draft the right questions and to close any trap doors.

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

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NOTE: Procedural questions should be posed to local counsel who knows local discovery rules and court procedure. My answer is based upon general knowledge and not based upon any experience in litigating discovery issues in your state.
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The effect of the new decision in the link above is most probably (a) a broadening of existing discovery requests (b) rehearings on recent decisions denying discovery and (c) an opportunity and a reason to ask the questions you really want to ask.
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The first question is whether the questions you would ask now are already within the scope of the questions you have already asked. If so, generally speaking, there is nothing to do. In this scenario you could send a letter, I think, that clarifies your questions in view of the new Supreme Court ruling. The letter would specifically address certain issues that were raised in questions already asked and tells them the details you expect. This could be done in a supplemental request for discovery citing the new Supreme Court decision. Check with local counsel.
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Second, and this is more likely, your case should be analyzed within the context of the new decision. It seems to me that the decision opens up some broader scope of discovery than had previously been submitted. Your opposition will fight this tooth and nail. Pointing to the Hawaii Supreme Court decision is not going to be enough even if the property is in Hawaii. You need to have a very clear narrative that explains why you are asking for the answers to questions and the production of documents and answers to request for admissions. Without a clear defense narrative your first Motion to Compel them to respond will likely fail. The general rule is that discovery, with certain exceptions, can be any request that could lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. By “admissible” the meaning is evidence that is relevant and “probative” to the truth of the matter asserted. It isn’t relevant unless it ties into either the case against you or the defense narrative. Lack of clarity can be fatal.
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The opposition is going to claim privilege, privacy, and proprietary information. You should force them to be more specific as to how the identification of the creditor is proprietary, or an invasion of privacy or some privilege. Tactically I would let them paint themselves into a corner, so you need someone who knows how to litigate. Once it is established that they can’t or won’t disclose the matters into which you have inquired, then the question becomes how they will prove authority from the creditor without identification of the creditor from whom all authority flows.
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That could lead to a motion for summary judgment wherein you allege that they have failed and refused to make disclosure as to the most fundamental aspect of pleading a case. Since their authorization to initiate and maintain a foreclosure action must relate back to the authorization of the creditor (owner of the debt) and they now have not or will not identify that party(ies), the presumption of authority must be considered rebutted, thus requiring them to prove their case with facts and not with the benefit of legal presumptions.
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Since they have admitted on record that they cannot prove they are acting on behalf of the creditor, it follows that they cannot prove authority to initiate or maintain a foreclosure action. Hence, the outcome is certain. They will not be able to prove standing although they might have made certain assertions or allegations that might pass for standing such that they can withstand a motion to dismiss or demurrer. The essential assertion of standing is either rebutted or barred from proof. Hence judgment should be entered for the homeowner.
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Some of this might come out in a motion for sanctions which is virtually certain to come from you when they fail to properly respond to your requests for discovery. This is intricate litigation that should be handled by a local attorney.
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Again don’t start a second front in the battle if you have already covered it in your previously submitted requests for discovery. I think you have asked most of the right questions, although now with this decision it becomes more refined.Among the questions I would ask in view of the new decision from the Supreme Court of Hawaii are the following presented only as narrative draft, subject to improvement by local counsel:
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  1. Does the trust exist under the laws of any jurisdiction? If yes, describe the jurisdiction in which the trust is recognized as existing.
  2. Was the trust organized under the laws of any jurisdiction? If yes, when and where?
  3. Does the trust own the subject debt? If yes, please explain why the trust is not claimed as a holder in due course.
  4. Does the trust allow the beneficiaries an interest in the assets of the trust?
  5. Please describe the manner in which the certificate holders are beneficiaries of a trust.
  6. Does the named Trustee of the Trust have any rights or obligations to monitor trust assets?
  7. Does the named Trustee of the Trust engage in any activities in which it is administering the assets of the Trust.
  8. Describe the assets of the Trust.
  9. Please identify the Trustor or Settlor of the Trust.
  10. Please identify the date, place and parties involved in any transaction in which assets were entrusted to the named trustee for the benefit of named or described beneficiaries.
  11. Please identify the date, place and parties involved in any transaction in which assets were purchased by the Trust or in which a Trustor or Settlor purchased assets that were then entrusted to the named trustee of the Trust for the benefit of named or described beneficiaries.
  12. Is the named Trust a fictitious name being used by one or more other entities?
  13. Do the certificates contain provisions in which the holder of the certificate disclaims any right, title or interest to assets of the Trust or any right, title or interest to the subject loan? If yes, please describe the provision, in what document it is located, the date of the document, and where that document currently exists in the care, custody and/or control of the Trust or any party doing business as or on behalf of the named Trust.
  14. Please describe the owner of the debt, to wit: describe the party currently carrying a receivable on its books that includes the subject loan, wherein no other party is ultimately entitled to proceeds of payments, proceeds or recovery on the subject loan.
  15. Is it your contention that residential foreclosure is legally allowed without ownership of the underlying debt from the borrower? If so, describe the elements of a party who would be legally allowed to foreclose on a residential mortgage without ownership of the underlying debt.
  16. Does the Trust have a bank account in the name of the Trust?
  17. Does the Trust have a bank account in the name of the named Trustee as Trustee for the Trust.
  18. If the answer to either of the two preceding question is yes, please describe the account, its location and identify the signatories on said account.
  19. Please describe the retainer agreement between the named Trust and current counsel of record including all the parties thereto, the date(s) of execution and date that the agreement became effective, the names of the signatories, and their authority to execute the instrument.
  20. With respect to loans attributed to or allegedly owned by the Trust please describe the parties who make decisions, along with a description of their authority, with respect to the following relating to the subject loan:
    1. Whether to foreclose
    2. When to foreclose
    3. What documents are needed for foreclosure
    4. Applications for modification
    5. Terms of modification
    6. Terms for settlement of the debt

How Do We Know That the Name of the Trustee was Rented?

The practice of paying a fee to a “service provider” to conceal the real nature of a transaction and the real parties in interest has been at the center of all Wall Street schemes that are at variance from conventional loan products.

Virtually all parties who appear in the chain of title or possession in securitization schemes are parties who rent their name to lend credence to the illusion of the loan transaction, loan transfers and foreclosures.

The truth is simply that the debt is never purchased and sold in such circumstances. But paper is created to create the illusion that “the loan” has been purchased and sold. It wasn’t. This illusion is created by simply using the names of the biggest banks in the world.

See Rent-A-Name popular amongst banks

So Payday lenders, the bottom feeders of an already corrupt lending industry, are renting the names of Native American tribes in order to escape rules and laws that apply to lending in general and Payday lenders in particular. They do it because the tribes might be exempt from certain Federal laws and rules. This enables them to charge higher and higher “interest rates” that are in fact gouging American consumers. So the tribal name or jurisdiction is invoked and the lenders pretend that they are not the real parties in interest. More pretender lenders.

This is what happens when we don’t enforce the existing laws and rules in the first place for fear of angering or collapsing the major banks. The prevailing view is that collapsing the TBTF banks — i.e., putting them out of business — is a bad thing no matter how badly they behave.

In the case of REMIC Trusts, big name banks have a tacit and express agreement (which should be pursued in discovery) in which they each will allow their names to be used or rented for a fee. This cross pollination of names, makes it appear that the giant banks are in fact the injured parties in foreclosures. I can say with 100% certainty this is not the case where claims of securitization are involved.

Banks have been quick to point out when faced with judgments for costs, fees or sanctions that they are NOT the foreclosing party and that their name only appears as “Trustee” of a self-proclaimed REMIC Trust. The “party” is the REMIC Trust itself, they say. But when you peek under the hood, the named Trust is just that — only a name. There is no trust and there have been no transactions in which the nonexistent trust’s name has been involved wherein loans have been purchased — or in which anything has been purchased.

Logic dictates and data confirms that the reason for this lack of transactional data is that there were no such transactions. Logic further dictates that the only possible conclusion is that the “investor money” was never entrusted to the falsely named big bank, as trustee and therefore could not have been entrusted to the REMIC Trust. Hence a key element of any valid trust is missing — the active management by a named trustee of assets that were entrusted tot he trustee on behalf of beneficiaries.

So there is no trust and there is court jurisdiction to grant relief in the name of a nonexistent trust. Reading the so-called trust instrument (Pooling and Servicing Agreement) also reveals the absence of trustor/settlor. So not only is the putative trust empty, it also lacks a trustor and trustee. Further inquiry into the PSA and the indenture for the the fake RMBS certificates reveals that the investors are not beneficiaries of a trust because even if the trust existed, the indenture disclaim such an interest in compliance with the buried description in the PSA.

So there is no trust, no trustee, no trustor, and no beneficiary. The investors’ only interest is in the form of a constructive trust, shared with other investors who may or may not be in the same “pool”. The opportunity for commingling money from thousands of investors in multiple pools is just too good for the bank to pass up.

Thus the laws and rules governing the highly complex lending marketplace require only an illusion of compliance instead of the real thing. Court administrators justified their “rocket dockets” by judicial economy and expediency, requiring the courts to hire more judges and personnel. But that is only true if the foreclosure were real. Some courts have required that the original note must be filed with the court upon suit and others require an affidavit describing possession and ownership of the so-called loan documents. Some affidavits must be executed by the lawyers seeking foreclosure on behalf of their clients.

My question is if the trust does not exist except in the minds of certain financiers and there are no trust assets and no active management of them (obviously) then how truthful is it for any lawyer  to execute documents for filing in court on behalf of a client that the lawyer knows or should know does not exist?

 

DEUTSCH BANK Memo Reveals Documents and Policies Ripe for Discovery

This completely corroborates what I have been saying for years along with a chorus of lawyers and pro se litigants across the county. It simply is not true that the attorney represents the trust or the trustee. 

This “Advisory” shows that there are documents that are rarely in the limelight and that clarify claims of securitization in practice. Note that the memorandum cited below comes from Deutsch Bank National Trust Company, as trustee and Deutsch Bank Trust Company Americas, as trustee.

These names are often NOT used when foreclosure actions are initiated where the name of the alleged REMIC Trustee is Deutsch Bank. It is important to note that neither of the two trust entities actually have been entrusted with any loans on behalf of any trust. Their name is used, for a fee, as windows dressing.

In this memo, Deutsch is attempting to limit its liability beyond the absence of any duties or trustee powers whose absence is revealed by reading the Pooling and Servicing Agreement (PSA) which is the alleged Trust instrument.

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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 Deutsche Bank Memorandum – July 2008

I have previously published and commented on parts of this memorandum. This is an expansion on my comments. This “advisory” obviously intends to bring alleged servicers back in line because it states in the introductory paragraph that the Trustee respectfully requests that all servicers review the First Servicing Memorandum and adhere to the practices it describes.”

None of this would have been necessary if the servicers were conforming to the directions and restrictions contained in the First Servicing Memorandum. We all know now that they were not conforming to anything or accepting instruction from anyone other than the alleged “Master Servicers” for NEITs (nonexistent  inactive trusts).

In discovery, one should ask for any servicer memoranda that exist including but not limited to the Memorandum to Securitization Loan Servicers dated August 30, 2007 a/k/a the First Servicer Memorandum, and all subsequent correspondence or written directions to servicers including but not limited to this “Advisory Concerning Servicing Issues Affecting Securitized Housing Assets.

Note also the oblique reference to the fact that the cut-off date actually means something.  It states that “typically” the REMICs (actually NEITs) take ownership of loans at the time the securitization trusts are formed. Thus discovery would include questions as to whether or not that occurred and if not, when did transfer of ownership occur and with what parties. Also one would ask for correspondence and agreements attendant to the alleged “transaction” in which the Trust allegedly purchased the loans with trust money that came from the proceeds of sales of certificates to investors. If the Trust did not pay value for the loans then it did not acquire the debt. It only acquired the paper instruments that are used as evidence of the debt.

Perhaps most importantly, the memo comes down hard on the use of powers of attorney, which are a favorite medium through which lawyers for the foreclosing parties typically try to patch obvious gaps in the chain of ownership or custody of the loan documents.

Then the memo provides foreclosure defense attorneys with the opportunity to attack the foundation laid for testimony and exhibits from robo-witnesses. It states that all parties must “Understand the mechanics of of relevant securitization transactions and related custodial practices in sufficient details to address such questions in a timely and accurate manner.” As any foreclosure defense lawyer will tell you, the robo-witness knows nothing about “the mechanics of of relevant securitization transactions and related custodial practices.” [The problem is that most borrowers and foreclosure defense lawyers don’t know either].

The inability of the robo-witness to describe the specific securitization practices in real life as it pertains to the subject loan gives rise to a cogent attack on the foundation for the rest of his testimony. With proper objections, perhaps motions in limine, and cross examination, this could lead to a defensive motion to strike the witnesses testimony and exhibits for lack of foundation. The following quote takes this out of the realm of theory and argument and into simple fact:

Servicers must ensure that loss mitigation personnel and professionals engaged by servicers, including legal counsel retained by servicers, understand the mechanics of relevant securitization transactions and related custodial practices in sufficient details to address such questions in a timely and accurate manner. In particular, servicing professionals [including “loss mitigation”] must become sufficiently familiar with the terms of the relevant securitization documents for each Trust for which they act to explain, and where necessary, prove those terms and resulting ownership interests to courts and government agencies.”

Note the assumption that lawyers are hired by servicers and not the Trustee or the Trust. Thus the servicers hire counsel and then order that foreclosure be brought in the name of the alleged trust. But if there is no trust or no acquisition of the debt, or authorization (remember powers of attorneys are not sufficient), the servicer is without legal authority to do anything, much less collect money from homeowners or bring foreclosure actions.

Paragraph (2) of the this “advisory” also gives guidance and foundation for what various people, especially attorneys, can say about who they represent and how.

“The Trustee believes that all persons retained by the servicer should specifically role or capacity in which they are acting. … One would be less accurate… if he or she claimed to be … attorney for the Trustee. A more accurate statement [attorney for servicer] acting for [Deutsch] as trustee of the Trust.”

This completely corroborates what I have been saying for years along with a chorus of lawyers and pro se litigants across the county. It simply is not true that the attorney represents the trust or the trustee.

 

Breaking it Down: What to Say and Do in an Unlawful Detainer or Eviction

Homeowners seem to have more options than they think in an unlawful detainer action based upon my analysis. It is the first time in a nonjudicial foreclosure where the foreclosing party is actually making assertions and representations against which the homeowner may defend. The deciding factor is what to do at trial. And the answer, as usual, is well-timed aggressive objections mostly based upon foundation and hearsay, together with a cross examination that really drills down.

Winning an unlawful detainer action in a nonjudicial foreclosure reveals the open sores contained within the false claims of securitization or transfer.

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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 DAN EDSTROM

Matters affecting the validity of the trust deed or primary obligation itself, or other basic defects in the plaintiffs title, are neither properly raised in this summary proceeding for possession, nor are they concluded by the judgment.” (Emphasis added.) (Cheney v. Trauzettel (1937) 9 Cal.2d 158, 159-160.) My emphasis added

So we can assume that they are specifically preserving your right to sue for damages. But also, if they still have the property you can sue to get it back. If you do that and file a lis pendens they can’t sell it again. If a third party purchaser made the bid or otherwise has “bought” the property you probably can’t touch the third party — unless you can show that said purchaser did in fact know that the sale was defective. Actual knowledge defeats the presumptions of facially valid instruments and recorded instruments.

The principal point behind all this is that the entire nonjudicial scheme and structure becomes unconstitutional if in either the wording of the statutes or the way the statutes are applied deprive the homeowner of due process. Denial of due process includes putting a burden on the homeowner that would not be there if the case was brought as a judicial foreclosure. I’m not sure if any case says exactly that but I am sure it is true and would be upheld if challenged.


It is true that where the purchaser at a trustee’s sale proceeds under section 1161a of the Code of Civil Procedure he must prove his acquisition of title by purchase at the sale; but it is only to this limited extent, as provided by the statute, that the title may be litigated in such a proceeding. Hewitt v. Justice’ Court, 131 Cal.App. 439, 21 P.(2d) 641; Nineteenth Realty Co. v. Diggs, 134 Cal.App. 278, 25 P.(2d) 522; Berkeley Guarantee Building & Loan Ass’n v. Cunnyngham, 218 Cal. 714, 24 P.(2d) 782. — [160] * * * In our opinion, the plaintiff need only prove a sale in compliance with the statute and deed of trust, followed by purchase at such sale, and the defendant may raise objections only on that phase of the issue of title

So the direct elements are laid out here and other objections to title are preserved (see above):

  • The existence of a sale under nonjudicial statutes
  • Acquisition of title by purchase at the sale
  • Compliance with statutes
  • Compliance with deed of trust

The implied elements and issues are therefore as follows:

  • Was it a Trustee who conducted the sale? (i.e., was the substitution of Trustee valid?) If not, then the party who conducted the sale was not a trustee and the “sale” was not a trustee sale. If Substitution of Trustee occurred as the result of the intervention of a party who was not a beneficiary, then no substitution occurred. Thus no right of possession arises. The objection is to lack of foundation. The facial validity of the instrument raises only a rebuttable presumption.
  • Was the “acquisition” of title the result of a purchase — i.e., did someone pay cash or did someone submit a credit bid? If someone paid cash then a sale could only have occurred if the “seller” (i.e., the trustee) had title. This again goes to the issue of whether the substitution of trustee was a valid appointment. A credit bid could only have been submitted by a beneficiary under the deed of trust as defined by applicable statutes. If the party claiming to be a beneficiary was only an intervenor with no real interest in the debt, then the “bid” was neither backed by cash nor a debt owed by the homeowner to the intervenor. According there was no valid sale under the applicable statutes. Thus such a party would have no right to possession. The objection is to lack of foundation. The facial validity of the instrument raises only a rebuttable presumption.

The object is to prevent the burden of proof from falling onto the homeowner. By challenging the existence of a sale and the existence of a valid trustee, the burden stays on the Plaintiff. Thus you avoid the presumption of facial validity by well timed and well placed objections.

” `To establish that he is a proper plaintiff, one who has purchased property at a trustee’s sale and seeks to evict the occupant in possession must show that he acquired the property at a regularly conducted sale and thereafter ‘duly perfected’ his title. [Citation.]’ (Vella v. Hudgins (1977) 20 Cal.3d 251,255, 142 Cal.Rptr. 414,572 P.2d 28; see Cruce v. Stein (1956) 146 Cal.App.2d 688,692,304 P.2d 118; Kelliherv. Kelliher(1950) 101 Cal.App.2d 226,232,225 P.2d 554; Higgins v. Coyne (1946) 75 Cal.App.2d 69, 73, 170 P2d 25; [*953] Nineteenth Realty Co. v. Diggs (1933) 134 Cal.App. 278, 288-289, 25 P2d 522.) One who subsequently purchases property from the party who bought it at a trustee’s sale may bring an action for unlawful detainer under subdivision (b)(3) of section 1161a. (Evans v. Superior Court (1977) 67 Cai.App.3d 162, 169, 136 Cal.Rptr. 596.) However, the subsequent purchaser must prove that the statutory requirements have been satisfied, i.e., that the sale was conducted in accordance with section 2924 of the Civil Code and that title under such sale was duly perfected. {Ibid.) ‘Title is duly perfected when all steps have been taken to make it perfect, i.e. to convey to the purchaser that which he has purchased, valid and good beyond all reasonable doubt (Hocking v. Title Ins. & Trust Co, (1951), 37 Cal.2d 644, 649 [234 P.2d 625,40 A.L.R.2d 1238] ), which includes good record title (Gwin v. Calegaris (1903), 139 Cal. 384 [73 P. 851] ), (Kessler v. Bridge (1958) 161 Cal.App.2d Supp. 837, 841, 327 P.2d 241.) ¶ To the limited extent provided by subdivision (b){3) of section 1161a, title to the property may be litigated in an unlawful detainer proceeding. (Cheney v. Trauzettel (1937) 9 Cal.2d 158, 159, 69 P.2d 832.) While an equitable attack on title is not permitted (Cheney, supra, 9 Cal.2d at p. 160, 69 P.2d 832), issues of law affecting the validity of the foreclosure sale or of title are properly litigated. (Seidel) v. Anglo-California Trust Co. (1942) 55 Cai.App.2d 913, 922, 132 P.2d 12, approved in Vella v. Hudgins, supra, 20 Cal.3d at p. 256, 142 Cal.Rptr. 414, 572 P.2d 28.)’ ” (Stephens, Partain & Cunningham v. Hollis (1987) 196 Cai.App.3d 948, 952-953.)
 
Here the court goes further in describing the elements. The assumption is that a trustee sale has occurred and that title has been perfected. If you let them prove that, they win.
  • acquisition of property
  • regularly conducted sale
  • duly perfecting title

The burden on the party seeking possession is to prove its case “beyond all reasonable doubt.” That is a high bar. If you raise real questions and issues in your objections, motion to strike testimony and exhibits etc. they would then be deemed to have failed to meet their burden of proof.

Don’t assume that those elements are present “but” you have a counterargument. The purpose of the law on this procedure to gain possession of property is to assure that anyone who follows the rules in a bona fide sale and acquisition will get POSSESSION. The rights of the homeowner to accuse the parties of fraud or anything else are eliminated in an action for possession. But you can challenge whether the sale actually occurred and whether the party who did it was in fact a trustee. 

There is also another factor which is whether the Trustee, if he is a Trustee, was acting in accordance with statutes and the general doctrine of acting in good faith. The alleged Trustee must be able to say that it was in fact the “new” beneficiary who executed the substitution of Trustee, or who gave instructions for issuing a Notice of Default and Notice of sale.

If the “successor” Trustee does not know whether the “successor” party is a beneficiary or not, then the foundation testimony and exhibits must come from someone who can establish beyond all reasonable doubt that the foreclosure proceeding emanated from a party who was in fact the owner of the debt and therefore the beneficiary under the deed of trust. 

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Wilmington-Christiana Fail in Back-door Attempt to Have “Trust” Identified as the Owner of Debt, Note and Mortgage

If they had been successful the entire question of whether the Trustee could be named as the foreclosing party would have been off the table — if other courts followed suit. And the entire question of “debt purchasing” could never have been raised despite obvious flaws and defects in fabricated paperwork.

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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 and others
see below for case opinion Blackstone v Sharma v Marvastian, Maryland Special Appeals Court
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In their never ending quest to validate illegal acts, misrepresentation and fraud, the banks are throwing as much legal theory against the wall in hopes that some of it will stick. This one starts with the fact that “debt purchasers” are still “debt collectors” regardless of how they self-describe themselves.
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There has been a trend in which “debt purchasers” step in front of the pile off fabricated documents and then make the claim for foreclosure or enforcement of the debt. By calling themselves “debt purchasers” they once again are using self-serving descriptions that are designed to confuse homeowners, lawyers and the courts. The truth is that no debt, note or mortgage was purchased by anyone. If there had been a purchase the  foreclosing party would merely refer to EVIDENCE that they paid money for a “loan” that was “owned” by the preceding party. Instead they rely upon legal presumptions carried in fabricated documents.
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Despite there having been no movement of the debt by virtue of an actual purchase and sale they continue to call themselves “debt purchasers.” They are not and the implication that the debt was purchase thus morphs into we MUST have purchased it because we now “hold” the note and mortgage.
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This case highlights the issues with “substitution of trustees,” and fabricated transfer documents. It also provides guidance on the “substitution of plaintiffs” in non-judicial states. There is no difference.
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The Trustee on a deed of trust cannot be fired and replaced by anyone other than the ACTUAL beneficiary.
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The Plaintiff in a judicial foreclosure case cannot change unless the attorneys are wiling to amend their pleading to show how the fabricated documents were transferred from the old Plaintiff (which never owned the debt, note or mortgage) to the newly designated Plaintiff.
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Both reveal that the actual party in interest in the foreclosure is the subservicer and Master Servicer for a trust that doesn’t really exist and which does not own any assets, have any liabilities nor conduct any business.
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KYLE BLACKSTONE, ET AL.,
v.
DINESH SHARMA, ET AL.
TERRANCE SHANAHAN, SUBSTITUTE. TRUSTEE, ET AL.,
v.
SEYED MARVASTIAN, ET AL.

Nos. 1524, 1525 Consolidated Case, September Term, 2015.

Court of Special Appeals of Maryland.

Filed: June 6, 2017.

Wright, Shaw Geter, Salmon, James P., (Senior Judge, Specially Assigned), JJ.

Opinion by SALMON, J.

This consolidated appeal originates from two foreclosure cases filed in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County. In both cases, substitute trustees (collectively, “appellants”) acting on behalf of Ventures Trust 2013-I-H-R (“Ventures Trust”), a statutory trust formed under the laws of the State of Delaware, filed orders to docket foreclosure suits against homeowners in the State of Maryland. The circuit court judges who considered the cases dismissed the actions, determining that pursuant to the Maryland Collection Agency Licensing Act (“MCALA”), codified at Maryland Code (1992, 2015 Repl. Vol.), Business Regulation Article (“B.R.”) § 7-101, et seq., Ventures Trust was required to be licensed as a collection agency and, because Ventures Trust had not obtained such a license, any judgment entered as a result of the foreclosure actions would be void. The dismissal of these foreclosure actions, without prejudice, presents us with two questions:

1. Under the MCALA, does a party who authorizes a trustee to initiate a foreclosure action need to be licensed as a collection agency before filing suit?

2. If the answer to question one is in the affirmative, does the licensing requirement apply to foreign statutory trusts such as Ventures Trust?

We shall answer “yes” to both questions and affirm the judgments entered by the Circuit Court for Montgomery County.

BACKGROUND

Appeal No. 1524

On August 4, 2006, Dinesh Sharma, Santosh Sharma, and Ruchi Sharma[1](collectively “the Sharmas”) executed a deed of trust that encumbered real property in Potomac, Maryland, in order to secure a $1,920,000 loan. Washington Mutual Bank, FA was the lender. The Sharmas, in December 2007, defaulted on the loan by failing to make payments when due.

Ventures Trust, by its trustee MCM Capital Partners, LLC (“MCM Capital”), acquired ownership and “all beneficial interest” of the loan on October 9, 2013. The substitute trustees[2] appointed by Ventures Trust filed an order to docket, initiating the foreclosure action, on November 25, 2014. The Sharmas owed $3,008,536.23 on the loan as of November 25, 2014.

The Sharmas responded to the foreclosure action by filing a counterclaim which was later severed by order of the circuit court. They also filed a motion to dismiss or enjoin the foreclosure sale pursuant to Md. Rule 14-211.[3] The substitute trustees moved to strike the Sharmas’ motion, which the court granted on May 7, 2015. The Sharmas filed a motion to alter or amend the May 7th order. On June 22, 2015 the court vacated its May 7th order, denied the substitute trustees’ motion to strike the Sharmas’ motion to dismiss, and set a hearing date for arguments concerning the motion to dismiss.

Following a hearing, the court, on August 28, 2015, issued an opinion and order granting the motion to dismiss the foreclosure action without prejudice. In its written opinion the circuit court determined that, pursuant to the MCALA, Ventures Trust was a collection agency and was therefore required to be licensed before attempting to collect on the deed of trust. The circuit court ruled that because Ventures Trust was not licensed as a collection agency, it had no right to file a foreclosure action. In its written opinion, the court also rejected Ventures Trust’s contention that it was a “trust company” and was therefore exempt from MCALA’s licensure requirements. The substitute trustees noted a timely appeal.

Appeal No. 1525

On June 23, 2006, Seyed and Sima Marvastian executed a deed of trust on property in Bethesda, Maryland in order to secure a $1,396,500 loan. Premier Mortgage Funding, Inc. was the lender. The Marvastians defaulted on the loan by failing to make payments when due in December 2012.

Ventures Trust by its trustee MCM Capital acquired the Marvastians’ loan in February 2014. On October 20, 2014, the substitute trustees filed an order to docket, initiating the foreclosure process. At the time of filing, the substitute trustees alleged that the Marvastians owed $1,632,303.26 on the loan.

The Marvastians responded by filing a counterclaim, which was severed by order of the circuit court. They also filed a motion to dismiss or stay the foreclosure sale pursuant to Md. Rule 14-211. Following extensive briefing and a hearing, the court granted the Marvastians’ motion to dismiss, albeit without prejudice. The judge’s reasons for dismissing the case were exactly the same as those given for dismissing the foreclosure case that is the subject of Appeal No. 1524.

I.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

[B]efore a foreclosure sale takes place, the defaulting borrower may file a motion to stay the sale of the property and dismiss the foreclosure action. In other words, the borrower, may petition the court for injunctive relief, challenging the validity of the lien or . . . the right of the [lender] to foreclose in the pending action. The grant or denial of injunctive relief in a property foreclosure action lies generally within the sound discretion of the trial court. Accordingly, we review the circuit court’s denial of a foreclosure injunction for an abuse of discretion. We review the trial court’s legal conclusions de novo.

Hobby v. Burson, 222 Md. App. 1, 8 (2015) (internal citations and quotation marks omitted). See also Svrcek v. Rosenberg, 203 Md. App. 705, 720 (2012). In the two cases that are the subject of this appeal, the trial judges based their rulings on their legal conclusions. Thus we review those conclusions de novo.

II.

In Finch v. LVNV Funding, LLC, 212 Md. App. 748, 758-64 (2013) we stated that without a license, a collection agency has no authority to file suit against the debtor. Accordingly, a “judgment entered in favor of an unlicensed debt collector constitutes a void judgment[.]” Id. at 764. See also Old Republic Insurance v. Gordon, 228 Md. App. 1, 12-13 (2016) (footnote omitted).

Maryland Code B.R. § 7-101(c) defines a collection agency as follows:

“Collection agency” means a person who engages directly or indirectly in the business of:

(1)(i) collecting for, or soliciting from another, a consumer claim; or

(ii) collecting a consumer claim the person owns, if the claim was in default when the person acquired it;

(2) collecting a consumer claim the person owns, using a name or other artifice that indicates that another party is attempting to collect the consumer claim;

(3) giving, selling, attempting to give or sell to another, or using, for collection of a consumer claim, a series or system of forms or letters that indicates directly or indirectly that a person other than the owner is asserting the consumer claim; or

(4) employing the services of an individual or business to solicit or sell a collection system to be used for collection of a consumer claim.

(Emphasis added.)

As used in the Business Regulations Article, “person” means “an individual . . . trustee . . . fiduciary, representative of any kind, partnership, firm, association, corporation, or other entity.” B.R. § 1-101(g). B.R. 7-101(e) defines a “consumer claim” as meaning a “claim that: 1) is for money owed or said to be owed by a resident of the State; and 2) arises from a transaction in which, for a family, household, or personal purpose, the resident sought or got credit, money, personal property, real property, or services.”

Before the law was amended in 2007, MCALA applied only to businesses that collected debts owed to another person. Old Republic, 228 Md. App. at 16. In 2007, the statute was broadened to include persons who engage in the business of “collecting a consumer claim the person owns, if the claim was in default when the person acquired it[.]” B.R. § 7-101(c)(1)(ii).

The legislative history of the 2007 amendment, insofar as here pertinent, was set forth in Old Republic as follows:

[T]he legislative history makes clear that the General Assembly enacted the 2007 amendments to regulate “debt purchasers,” who were exploiting a loophole in the law to bypass the MCALA’s licensing requirements.

The Senate Finance Committee Report on House Bill 1324 explained:

House Bill 1324 extends the purview of the State Collection Agency Licensing Board to include persons who collect consumer claims acquired when the claims were in default. These persons are known as “debt purchasers” since they purchase delinquent consumer debt resulting from credit card transactions and other bills; these persons then own the debt and seek to collect from consumers like other collection agencies who act on behalf of original creditors.

Charles T. Turnbaugh, Commissioner of Financial Regulation and Chairman of the Maryland Collection Agency Licensing Board offered the following testimony:

[T]he evolution of the debt collection industry has created a “loophole” used by some entities as a means to circumvent current State collection agency laws. Entities, such as “debt purchasers” who enter into purchase agreements to collect delinquent consumer debt rather than acting as an agent for the original creditor, currently collect consumer debt in the State without complying with any licensing or bonding requirement. The federal government has recognized and defined debt purchasers as collection agencies, and requires that these entities fully comply with the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

This legislation would include debt purchases within the definition of “collection agency,” and require them to be licensed by the Board before they may collect consumer claims in this State. Other businesses that are collecting their own debt continue to be excluded from this law.

Susan Hayes, a member of the Maryland Collection Agency Licensing Board, submitted the following in support of the bill:

The traditional method of dealing with distressed accounts has been for creditors to assign these accounts to a collection agency. These agencies, operating under a contingency fee arrangement with the creditor, keep a portion of the amount recovered and return the balance to the creditor. Today, a different option is available — selling accounts receivables to a third party debt collector at a discount.

* * *

HB 1324 closes a loophole in licensing of debt collectors under Maryland law. Just because a professional collector of defaulted debt “purchases” the debt, frequently on a contingent fee basis, should not exclude them from the licensing requirements of Maryland law concerning debt collectors.

Id. at 19-20.

Ventures Trust is in the business of buying from banks, at a discount, mortgages and deeds of trust that are in default. In the cases here at issue, there is no dispute that: 1) when Ventures Trust purchased the loans in question, the loans were in default; and 2) Ventures Trust, by filing (through its agents — the trustees) the foreclosure actions it was attempting to collect “consumer debt.”

As we said in Old Republic, the legislative history of the 2007 amendments to the MCALA make it “clear that the General Assembly had a specific purpose in mind in adopting the 2007 amendments, i.e., including [under the Act] debt purchasers, people who purchased defaulted accounts receivable at a discount, within the purview of MCALA.” Id. at 21. Money owed on a note secured by a deed of trust or a mortgage certainly qualifies as an account receivable. And Ventures Trust is in the business of buying up defaulted mortgages or deeds of trust and instituting foreclosure actions to obtain payment.

Appellants contend that the MCALA does not require a party to be licensed as a collection agency in order to file a foreclosure action. They support that contention with the following argument:

Foreclosures are not mentioned [in B.R. § 7-101(c)], although the Legislature clearly knew how to do so if it had wished. There is no specific statement in the MCALA to the effect that “doing business” as a “collection agency” includes actions taken to enforce a security interest, such as foreclosing on a deed of trust, nor is there any specific statement that such actions would fall into the definition of “collecting” a consumer claim. Neither this Court nor the Court of Appeals has ever ruled that pursuing a foreclosure proceeding amounts to “doing business” in Maryland as a “collection agency” under the Act, and for good reason. As the Legislature has made clear in numerous statutes, a foreign entity — including a statutory trust such as Ventures Trust — pursuing foreclosure is not “doing business” in Maryland[.]

Appellants emphasize that Md. Code (2014 Repl. Vol.), Corporations and Associations Article § 12-902(a) requires any foreign statutory trust doing business in Maryland to register with the State Department of Assessments and Taxation (“SDAT”). Section 12-908(a)(5) provides, however, that “[f]oreclosing mortgages and deeds of trust on property in this State” is not considered “doing business.”

According to appellants, because of “the Legislature’s” express decision to make clear that a foreclosure proceeding brought by a foreign statutory trust is by definition, not doing business in Maryland, a foreign trust does not need to be licensed as a collection agency to file a Maryland foreclosure action. That argument would be strong were it not for the fact (relied upon by both circuit court judges who ruled against appellants below) that section 12-908(a) of the Corporations and Associations Article expressly states that the “doing business” exception granted to foreign trusts is “for the purposes of this subtitle[.]” In other words, the foreign trust exception does not apply to the MCALA.

It is true, as appellants point out, that no Maryland appellate court has ever held that a foreign trust needs a license under the MCALA to file a foreclosure action. But the matter has simply not been addressed by any Maryland appellate court.

Judge Ellen Hollander, in Ademiluyi v. PennyMac Mortgage Investment Trust Holdings I, LLC, et al., 929 F.Supp.2d 502, 520-24 (D. Md. 2013) did hold that a MCALA license was needed to bring a foreclosure action based on the allegations set forth in the complaint filed in that case. In Ademiluyi, the holder of the mortgage (PennyMac), filed a foreclosure action on a mortgage even though (it was alleged) that PennyMac purchased the mortgage after it was in default and did not have a debt collection license. Id. at 520. The issue in that case was whether, based on the allegations in the complaint, PennyMac needed a license prior to bringing a foreclosure action. Id.

After a lengthy discussion, Judge Hollander said:

I am persuaded that, even if actions pertinent to mortgage foreclosure are taken in connection with enforcement of a security interest in real property, such actions may constitute debt collection activity under the MCALA. Therefore, based on the facts alleged by plaintiff, PennyMac Holdings may qualify as a collection agency under the MCALA with respect to mortgage debt it seeks to collect, including through judicial foreclosure proceedings or other conduct pertinent to foreclosure.

Id. at 523.

Support for Judge Hollander’s conclusion can be found in a twenty-one page order, dated December 8, 2013, signed by Gordon M. Cooley, Chairperson of the Maryland State Collection Agency Licensing Board.[4] Mr. Cooley ordered several entities, including NPR Capital, LLC, to stop attempting to collect consumer debts by filing foreclosure actions. At page 17 of his order, the Acting Commissioner determined, inter alia, that NPR Capital violated the provisions of the MCALA (specifically B.R. § 7-401(a)) by attempting to collect a debt by filing a foreclosure action at a time when it was not licensed as a collection agency.

When interpreting the MCALA, the ruling by Commissioner Cooley is of consequence because, as the Court of Appeals recently said, it is well established that appellate courts “should ordinarily give `considerable weight’ to `an administrative agency’s interpretation and application of the statute'” it is charged with administering. Board of Liquor License Commissioners for Baltimore City v. Kougl, 451 Md. 507, 514 (2017), (quoting Maryland Aviation Administration v. Noland, 386 Md. 556, 572 (2005)). As can be seen, the Board that administers the MCALA statute is of the view that the MCALA covers persons who attempt to collect consumer debt by filing a foreclosure action.

In support of their position, appellants point out, accurately, that nowhere in the legislative history of the 2007 amendment to the MCALA, is there any mention of foreclosure actions. From this, appellants ask us to infer that the General Assembly did not intend that persons who purchase defaulted mortgages or deeds of trust and then file foreclosure actions needed to purchase a debt collection license. In our view, the absence of a specific reference in the legislative history is not dispositive because, insofar as the issue here presented is concerned, the MCALA is unambiguous.

With exceptions not here relevant except the one discussed in Part III, infra, “a person must have a license whenever the person does business as a collection agency in the State.” B.R. § 7-301(a). The definition of a “collection agency” has five elements. Old Republic, 228 Md. App. at 23 (Nazarian, J. dissenting). Those elements are:

“[a] a person who [b] engages directly or indirectly in the business of . . . collecting a [c] consumer claim the [d] person owns, [e] if the claim was in default when the person acquired it.” BR § 7-101(c)(ii).

Id.

Ventures Trust admits that it meets elements (a), (c), (d) and (e). It argues, however, that element (b) is not met because it does not “engage in the business of collecting” debt by filing foreclosure actions. Boiled down to its essence, appellants’ “not in the business” argument is based on the contention that the General Assembly intended to exempt from the MCALA persons who attempt to collect consumer debt by bringing foreclosure actions. We can find no such intent in the words of the statute or in anything in the Act’s legislative history. We therefore reject that contention and hold that unless some exception to the MCALA is applicable, the licensing requirements of the MCALA applies to persons who attempt to collect a consumer debt by bringing a foreclosure action.

III.

The MCALA states: “This title does not apply to . . . a trust company[.]” B.R. § 7-102(b)(8). The statute does not define “trust company.” See B.R. § 7-101. Appellants claim that even if the MCALA licensing requirement applies to a person who brings a foreclosure action in order to enforce a consumer debt, the MCALA does not apply to Ventures Trust because it is a “trust company.” Black’s Law Dictionary (10th ed. 2014) defines “trust company” as “[a] company that acts as a trustee for people and entities and that sometimes also operates as a commercial bank.” The appellants claim that Ventures Trust meets that definition because, purportedly, Ventures Trust “certainly holds and maintains trust property.”

We pause at this point to discuss what the record reveals about Ventures Trust. In appellants’ filing with the Montgomery County Circuit Court, appellants’ counsel stated that Ventures Trust is the holder of the notes at issue, and that it is a statutory trust formed in Delaware under 12 DEL. CODE § 3801(g). Ventures Trust has two trustees. They are MCM Capital and Wilmington Federal Savings Fund Society, FSB doing business as Christiana Trust. In Appeal No. 1525, counsel for the substitute trustees orally told the motions judge that Ventures Trust was “like an account at Christiana Bank” and that Christiana Trust was the trustee of Ventures Trust. That representation was also made by counsel for the substitute trustee in that case in a supplemental memorandum where it was said: “Ventures Trust. 2013-I-H-R…, is the holding of a Federal Savings Bank[,] which serves as its co-trustee….”

Using the Black’s Law Dictionary (10th edition) definition of “trust company” set forth above, Ventures Trust does not fit within that definition. It does not act as a bank. Moreover, other entities act as trustees for it. There is nothing in the record that shows that Ventures Trust acts as a trustee for anyone.

Appellants also suggest that we use the slightly different definition of “trust company” set forth in Black’s Law Dictionary (5th ed. 1979) because that edition of Black’s was published “around the time of the 1977 amendment” that exempted trust companies from the MCALA. Black’s 1979 definition of “trust company” was as follows: “a corporation formed for the purpose of taking, accepting, and executing all such trusts as may be lawfully committed to it, and acting as testamentary trustee, executor, guardian, etc.” There is no indication in the record that Ventures Trust is a corporation or, as already mentioned, that it acts as a trustee for anyone. Therefore, Ventures Trust does not meet that definition either.

The words “trust company” is defined in Md. Code (2011 Repl. Vol.), Financial Institutions Article (“Fin. Institutions”) § 3-101(g) as meaning “an institution that is incorporated under the laws of this State as a trust company.” But that definition only applies to matters set forth in the Fin. Institutions Article section 3-101(a). In Fin. Institutions §3-501(d), governing common trust funds, the term “trust companies” is defined as including a national banking association that has powers similar to those given to a trust company under the laws of “this State.” That definition, however, only applies to subtitle 5 of the Financial Institutions Article. Md. Code (2011 Repl. Vol.), Estates and Trusts Article§ 1-101(v) also contains a definition of “Trust Company” but it applies only to laws governing the “estates of decedents.” See Estates & Trusts Article § 1-101(a). Lastly, the term “statutory trust” is defined in Md. Code (2011 Repl. Vol.), Corporations and Associations Article § 12-101(h) as meaning: an unincorporated business, trust, or association:

(i) Formed by filing an initial certificate of trust under § 12-204 of this title; and

(ii) Governed by a governing instrument.

(2) “Statutory trust” includes a trust formed under this title on or before May 31, 2010, as a business trust, as the term business trust was then defined in this title.

Ventures Trust admits that it does not fit within any of the above definitions of “trust company” or “statutory trust.” Moreover, even if it did meet one or more of those definitions, there is no indication that the legislature, in 1977, when it exempted “trust companies” from the MCALA, intended those definitions to be used. As appellants concede, we are thus left with the general definition of “trust company” as set forth in Black’s Law Dictionary. See Ishola v. State, 404 Md. 155, 161 (2008)(Dictionary definitions help clarify the plain meaning of a statute.).

The circuit court judge who dismissed the foreclosure action that is the subject of Appeal 1524 reached the following legal conclusion with which we are in complete accord:

MCALA expressly limits the scope of its license requirement exemptions to those “… provided in this title….” Md. Code Ann., Bus. Reg. § 7-301(a) (emphasis added). MCALA does not explicitly exempt “foreign statutory trusts” that bring foreclosure actions from its licensing requirements. See Bus. Reg. § 7-102(b). In fact, the term “foreign statutory trust” never appears in MCALA. See Bus. Reg. § 7-101, et seq. Thus, the General Assembly expressed a clear intent to subject foreign statutory trusts that bring foreclosure actions in Maryland, like Ventures Trust, to MCALA’s licensing requirements.

CONCLUSION

A debt purchaser that attempts to collect a consumer debt by bringing a foreclosure action is required to have a license unless some statutory exemption applies. Contrary to appellants’ contention, Ventures Trust is not a “trust company” within the meaning of the MCALA and must therefore obtain a debt collection license in accordance with the provisions of the MCALA before bringing a foreclosure action. Because Ventures Trust had no such license, it was barred from filing, through its agents, the two foreclosure actions here at issue.

JUDGMENTS AFFIRMED; COSTS TO BE PAID BY APPELLANTS.

Servicers Using US Bank as Shield From Liability in Fraudulent Foreclosures

The conclusion is that US Bank “as trustee” is a sham entity. it does not exist.

The marketplace is flooded with false representations about the role of US Bank. This becomes abundantly clear when you are made privy to decisions made wherein sanctions were levied against US Bank. It underscores the basic premise that there is no formal loan, and hence that there is no creditor and there is no borrower — a very accurate but  counter-intuitive conclusion.

Get a consult! 202-838-6345

https://www.vcita.com/v/lendinglies to schedule CONSULT, leave message or make payments.
 
THIS ARTICLE IS NOT A LEGAL OPINION UPON WHICH YOU CAN RELY IN ANY INDIVIDUAL CASE. HIRE A LAWYER.
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On U.S. Bank I have always had a problem with describing them as a national bank in this context.

While it IS a national bank, it specifically disclaims that it is acting on its own behalf and states that it appears strictly as Trustee for a putative trust. As such it is neither acting as an investment bank nor a commercial bank processing deposits or withdrawals. It COULD perform those services if US Bank received borrower payments on putative loans. But it doesn’t perform those tasks since the records produced in court are ALWAYS those of a third party who claims rights to “service” particular loans including the subject loan.

Further, upon information and belief, US Bank has no knowledge or involvement in the invocation of the name “US Bank.” It uniformly refuses to sign off on any settlement or modification of loans and uniformly avoids sending any employee or officer to any court proceeding involving foreclosure of residential putative loans where it is described as “trustee” of a “trust”.

In addition US Bank has no duties that it is required to perform and no duties that are required by any document or instrument, save the consent to use its name in foreclosure cases. The absence of any duties to perform as Trustee is equivalent to the absence of a Trustee — a basic requirement in the creation of a valid trust.

And the absence of any duties as Trustee is evidence of the absence of any res, another basic requirement for the creation of a trust.

The use of the name “US Bank” is an attempt at “layering” or “laddering” as it is defined in the financial industry, to create a shield from liability on the part of self-proclaimed “servicers” whose authority is entirely dependent upon (1) the existence of a valid trust and (2) the presence of a real trustee.

Thus US Bank is not performing nor required to perform any trustee duties; and the putative trust never entered into any transaction in which the Trust paid for assets. Nor have any third parties contributed assets (owned by such third parties) to the res of the Trust.

Hence the sub rosa third party using the name of US Bank as a shield while the sub rosa third party pursued claims for its own benefit and not the benefit of any trust nor any beneficiaries of the putative trust nor any third party investors. Thus neither the named Trustee (or the named trust) nor the “servicer” had any right, justification or excuse to claim any rights arising out of the receipt of funds or the obligation to repay those funds by the putative borrower.

 

Problems with Lehman and Aurora

Lehman had nothing to do with the loan even at the beginning when the loan was funded, it acted as a conduit for investor funds that were being misappropriated, the loan was “sold” or “transferred” to a REMIC Trust, and the assets of Lehman were put into a bankruptcy estate as a matter of law.

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

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I keep receiving the same question from multiple sources about the loans “originated” by Lehman, MERS involvement, and Aurora. Here is my short answer:
 *

Yes it means that technically the mortgage and note went in two different directions. BUT in nearly all courts of law the Judge overlooks this problem despite clear law to the contrary in Florida Statutes adopting the UCC.

The stamped endorsement at closing indicates that the loan was pre-sold to Lehman in an Assignment and Assumption Agreement (AAA)— which is basically a contract that violates public policy. It violates public policy because it withholds the name of the lender — a basic disclosure contained in the Truth in Lending Act in order to make certain that the borrower knows with whom he is expected to do business.

 *
Choice of lender is one of the fundamental requirements of TILA. For the past 20 years virtually everyone in the “lending chain” violated this basic principal of public policy and law. That includes originators, MERS, mortgage brokers, closing agents (to the extent they were actually aware of the switch), Trusts, Trustees, Master Servicers (were in most cases the underwriter of the nonexistent “Trust”) et al.
 *
The AAA also requires withholding the name of the conduit (Lehman). This means it was a table funded loan on steroids. That is ruled as a matter of law to be “predatory per se” by Reg Z.  It allows Lehman, as a conduit, to immediately receive “ownership” of the note and mortgage (or its designated nominee/agent MERS).
 *

Lehman was using funds from investors to fund the loan — a direct violation of (a) what they told investors, who thought their money was going into a trust for management and (b) what they told the court, was that they were the lender. In other words the funding of the loan is the point in time when Lehman converted (stole) the funds of the investors.

Knowing Lehman practices at the time, it is virtually certain that the loan was immediately subject to CLAIMS of securitization. The hidden problem is that the claims from the REMIC Trust were not true. The trust having never been funded, never purchased the loan.

*

The second hidden problem is that the Lehman bankruptcy would have put the loan into the bankruptcy estate. So regardless of whether the loan was already “sold” into the secondary market for securitization or “transferred” to a REMIC trust or it was in fact owned by Lehman after the bankruptcy, there can be no valid document or instrument executed by Lehman after that time (either the date of “closing” or the date of bankruptcy, 2008).

*

The reason is simple — Lehman had nothing to do with the loan even at the beginning when the loan was funded, it acted as a conduit for investor funds that were being misappropriated, the loan was “sold” or “transferred” to a REMIC Trust, and the assets of Lehman were put into a bankruptcy estate as a matter of law.

*

The problems are further compounded by the fact that the “servicer” (Aurora) now claims alternatively that it is either the owner or servicer of the loan or both. Aurora was basically a controlled entity of Lehman.

It is impossible to fund a trust that claims the loan because that “reporting” process was controlled by Lehman and then Aurora.

*

So they could say whatever they wanted to MERS and to the world. At one time there probably was a trust named as owner of the loan but that data has long since been erased unless it can be recovered from the MERS archives.

*

Now we have an emerging further complicating issue. Fannie claims it owns the loan, also a claim that is untrue like all the other claims. Fannie is not a lender. Fannie acts a guarantor or Master trustee of REMIC Trusts. It generally uses the mortgage bonds issued by the REMIC trust to “purchase” the loans. But those bonds were worthless because the Trust never received the proceeds of sale of the mortgage bonds to investors. Thus it had no ability to purchase loan because it had no money, business or other assets.

But in 2008-2009 the government funded the cash purchase of the loans by Fannie and Freddie while the Federal Reserve outright paid cash for the mortgage bonds, which they purchased from the banks.

The problem with that scenario is that the banks did not own the loans and did not own the bonds. Yet the banks were the “sellers.” So my conclusion is that the emergence of Fannie is just one more layer of confusion being added to an already convoluted scheme and the Judge will be looking for a way to “simplify” it thus raising the danger that the Judge will ignore the parts of the chain that are clearly broken.

Bottom Line: it was the investors funds that were used to fund loans — but only part of the investors funds went to loans. The rest went into the pocket of the underwriter (investment bank) as was recorded either as fees or “trading profits” from a trading desk that was performing nonexistent sales to nonexistent trusts of nonexistent loan contracts.

The essential legal problem is this: the investors involuntarily made loans without representation at closing. Hence no loan contract was ever formed to protect them. The parties in between were all acting as though the loan contract existed and reflected the intent of both the borrower and the “lender” investors.

The solution is for investors to fire the intermediaries and create their own and then approach the borrowers who in most cases would be happy to execute a real mortgage and note. This would fix the amount of damages to be recovered from the investment bankers. And it would stop the hemorrhaging of value from what should be (but isn’t) a secured asset. And of course it would end the foreclosure nightmare where those intermediaries are stealing both the debt and the property of others with whom thye have no contract.

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