jmdenison https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/29589295/posts/15035 Very Good MERS article from Mandelman


https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/29589295/posts/15035
jmdenison
MaryGSykes.com

From GG: the good ship MERS may be going down…for you folks facing those robo signing/false accountings foreclosure cases, read on
23h ago
http://mandelman.ml-implode.com/2011/02/new-bankruptcy-court-decision-sounds-the-alarm-%E2%80%93-the-uss-mers-is-going-down/

This is a pretty funny article about MERS and how it is mostly a full of it mortgage/note handling process that bilks county recorder out of millions in recording mortgage docts per year, plus it can often create havoc in foreclosure/assignment/purchase cases.
read on.
New Bankruptcy Court Decision Sounds the Alarm – The USS MERS is Going Down

Preface…

Before I jump into this decision by a U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge in New York, I just want to acknowledge that I very rarely write about MERS. And it’s not an accident; I’ve chosen not to do so… until now, anyway.

Perhaps I’ve been wrong not to cover the MERS debacle in greater detail, but the reason I haven’t is that I view some of the issues related to MERS as kind of… well, pedestrian… not to put too fine a point on it.

Other than a few good decisions by courts that have barred MERS from foreclosing, it just seemed to me that the problems presented by MERS could be fixed, and therefore I didn’t want homeowners who read my column to put too much stock in their loan being a MERS loan, as doing much for them if they find themselves at risk of foreclosure.

This decision has done a lot to change my view of MERS and the role it plays in foreclosures. The judge in this case presents a damn strong, if non-binding case why MERS may in fact be a much larger problem than I thought it was.

According to consumer bankruptcy attorney and nationally known foreclosure defense guru, Max Gardner…

“This case may well be the final dagger in the deep dark heart of the MERS business model. MERS has fired its President, R.K. Arnold, and may well terminate its Secretary, William Hultman, but MERS cannot fix the systematic and fundamentally flawed legal issues clearly and succinctly identified by the Court in Agard.”
And so… without further delay, I present to you… the “Agard Decision”.

~~~

The State: New York

The Case: In re: Ferrel L. Agard, Debtor, Chapter 7

The Court: United States Bankruptcy Court, Eastern District of New York

The Judge: The Honorable Robert E. Grossman

The Set Up: U.S. Bank, as the trustee for one First Franklin Mortgage Loan Trust 2006-FF12, Mortgage Pass-Through Certificates, Series 2006-FF12… which all just means that we’re talking about a REMIC trust containing a securitized pool of mortgages… moves to obtain relief from the automatic stay created by a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing, in order to complete the foreclosure of Ferrel Agard’s home. New York State courts had already ruled and a foreclosure judgment was issued, so now U.S. Bank as trustee just needed to finish things out by obtaining relief from the automatic stay so they can proceed with selling the home.

Records show that the bankruptcy trustee expected a routine, no assets case… file report, collect fee, end of case. U.S. Bank, represented by its loan servicer, Select Portfolio Servicing (“SPS”), who was in turn represented by Buffalo’s most infamous foreclosure mill, Steven J. Baum PC, must have thought about the same… a straight forward foreclosure case, lets get rid of the deadbeats and be home by dinner.

But, in today’s fast changing world of Fraudclosuregate, things are not always as they appear, and crap that flew yesterday may not fly again tomorrow.

The Opposition: On October 27, 2010, the borrower’s attorney filed a single page document on which the type was double-spaced. It was a “partial opposition to the motion for relief from stay” that U.S. Bank had filed, and it suggested to the judge that perhaps there might be some sort of small problem with the MERS assignment. It also, in so many words, posited: Who the heck was Select Portfolio Services and why did they have any role in the case anyway?

After that, one might say… the fit hit the shan.

The Hearing: At a hearing held on November 15, 2010, the judge must have more than just hinted that he was going to look very carefully at this whole MERS thing, because he suggested that the parties might want to consider filing some real legal briefs on the subject, and he made it clear that he would be holding a real hearing on the issues on December 15, 2010, just one month down the road.

The Response: All of a sudden nothing was at it seemed just days before… SPS asks the court for more time and rushes out for reinforcements, bringing in a “tall building” law firm from New York City to replace the relative pikers at Baum’s Mill. The newly retained big city lawyers file a major brief in support of the U.S. Bank/SPS position on December 8th.

Then, on December 9th, MERS shows up, metaphorically at least with lights flashing and sirens blaring, to file an “emergency motion to intervene,” crying in sheer panic that their entire national business model is being attacked and that the result can be nothing less than the end of the world as we all know it.

They bring in a sworn declaration from MERS Treasurer and Corporate Secretary, William Hultman on December 10th, that explains what an entirely fabulous and utterly wonderful invention MERS actually is, and then… I suppose afraid that the one Hultman declaration just might not carry the day they show up with yet another declaration from MERS Treasurer and Corporate Secretary, William Hultman on December 23rd.

In an effort to keep things straight as related to the declarations, we’ll call that one: “Why Everyone Should Love MERS More Than Life Itself… The Sequel.”

The judge then begins to dig into the matter. Perhaps he was waiting for a case such as this one, or perhaps some other forces were in play, but regardless… for MERS… this was the wrong judge on the wrong day.

The Decision: Judge Grossman devotes the first half of his opinion to discussing whether he even has the legal authority to look into how U.S. Bank obtained this mortgage in the first place, since it already had obtained a foreclosure judgment in state court, and because there is an irritating (to Federal judges) and arcane Rooker-Feldman doctrine that prohibits federal courts from interfering with state court judgments.

Alas, our intrepid judge concludes on page 18 of his decision that Rooker-Feldman does in fact preclude him from looking further into the issues that underlie the U.S. Bank foreclosure judgment. And, as a result, Judge Grossman decides that he must grant U.S. Bank’s motion for relief from the bankruptcy automatic stay so that the trustee can complete the foreclosure.

Now, were we talking about most judges, that would represent the end of this proverbial road… the opinion would be dated and signed and I would not be writing about the case now. But we’re not talking about most judges… we’re talking about the Honorable Judge Robert E. Grossman of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, and he’s apparently not a judge with which one should trifle.

He’s got MERS in his crosshairs, apparently exactly where he wants them, and in the 18 pages that follow his decision to grant the relief from the automatic stay he goes after MERS mercilessly. Attorney Thomas Cox of Portland, Maine, who you may remember from the “GMAC uses robo-signers deposition” that brought foreclosures to a standstill last fall, says that in his opinion…

“He (Judge Grossman) does the most thorough and competent analysis of the MERS charade that I have seen, basically concluding that the entire MERS business model does not comply with our laws, and that he will no longer accept MERS mortgage assignments in his court room.”
It’s a decision that was a delight to see.”</em>
Now, clearly this is a decision that’s worth reading for one’s self… Judge Grossman is one heck of a writer and not one to play patty-cake with MERS or those of the banking persuasion, but I thought I’d at least provide the overview of the decision with “training wheels” for those who aren’t of the mind to wade through the entire text of the decision themselves, or who find these things next to impossible to read and understand.

Here’s the overview of the Memorandum Decision in its entirety… with my clarifications added for those who find them valuable. If you’re a lawyer or just an uber-smartee, just scroll on down to the imbedded document for a copy of Judge Grossman’s decision in its entirety.

The movant is Select Portfolio Servicing, Inc. (“Select Portfolio” or “Movant”), as servicer for U.S. Bank National Association, as Trustee for First Franklin Mortgage Loan Trust 2006-FF12, Mortgage Pass-Through Certificates, Series 2006-FF12 (“U.S. Bank”)

Okay, for now just remember that the servicer is the “Movant.” The rest I already covered above at the very beginning. U.S. Bank N.A. is the trustee for the First Franklin Mortgage Loan Trust… blah, blah, blah… got it? Good, let’s move on…

The Debtor filed limited opposition to the Motion contesting the Movant’s standing to seek relief from stay. The Debtor argues that the only interest U.S. Bank holds in the underlying mortgage was received by way of an assignment from the Mortgage Electronic Registration System a/k/a MERS, as a “nominee” for the original lender.

The Debtor’s argument raises a fundamental question as to whether MERS had the legal authority to assign a valid and enforceable interest in the subject mortgage. Because U.S. Bank’s rights can be no greater than the rights as transferred by its assignor – MERS – the Debtor argues that the Movant, acting on behalf of U.S. Bank, has failed to establish that it holds an enforceable right against the Property.1.

This references the single page, double-spaced document I described that was filed by the borrower’s attorney, called a “partial opposition to the motion top relief from stay”. It raised some questions that the judge would later seek to answer.

The Movant’s initial response to the Debtor’s opposition was that MERS’s authority to assign the mortgage to U.S. Bank is derived from the mortgage itself, which allegedly grants to MERS its status as both “nominee” of the mortgagee and “mortgagee of record.”

Judge Grossman is going to attack this line of reasoning head on in the last 18 pages of his decision. Among many other things, you’ll see him say… “Aside from the inappropriate reliance upon the statutory definition of “mortgagee,” MERS’s position that it can be both the mortgagee and an agent of the mortgagee is absurd, at best.” And there’s a whole lot more where that came from… read on…

The Movant later supplemented its papers taking the position that U.S. Bank is a creditor with standing to seek relief from stay by virtue of a judgment of foreclosure and sale entered in its favor by the state court prior to the filing of the bankruptcy.

The Movant argues that the judgment of foreclosure is a final adjudication as to U.S. Bank’s status as a secured creditor and therefore the Rooker-Feldman doctrine prohibits this Court from looking behind the judgment and questioning whether U.S. Bank has proper standing before this Court by virtue of a valid assignment of the mortgage from MERS.

This is the part that caused Judge Grossman to back down in this particular instance and allow the relief from automatic stay, thus allowing the foreclosure to proceed. Basically, he concludes that he’s not allowed to question the facts that underlie the foreclosure judgment that was previously granted by the state court.

There is also an important footnote (“1”) on the second page that reads as follows:

The Debtor also questions whether Select Portfolio has the authority and the standing to seek relief from the automatic stay. The Movant argues that Select Portfolio has standing to bring the Motion based upon its status as “servicer” of the Mortgage, and attaches an affidavit of a vice president of Select Portfolio attesting to that servicing relationship.

Case law has established that a mortgage servicer has standing to seek relief from the automatic stay as a party in interest. See, e.g., Greer v. O’Dell, 305 F.3d 1297 (11th Cir. 2002); In re Woodberry, 383 B.R. 373 (Bankr. D.S.C. 2008).

This presumes, however, that the lender for whom the servicer acts validly holds the subject note and mortgage. Thus, this Decision will focus on whether U.S. Bank validly holds the subject note and mortgage.

I think the judge is saying that servicers do have standing to seek relief from an automatic stay that results from a borrower filing bankruptcy, but that such standing presumes that the lender being represented by the servicer validly holds the note and mortgage, and that the decision will address that issue.

Okay, you’ve got that part pretty much down, right? Then the decision goes on to say…

The Court received extensive briefing and oral argument from MERS, as an intervenor in these proceedings, which go beyond the arguments presented by the Movant.
This just says that MERS showed up with all guns blazing, arguing that MERS represents all that is right, good and just in the world. The judge isn’t buying though…

In addition to the rights created by the mortgage documents themselves MERS argues that the terms of its membership agreement with the original lender and its successors in interest, as well as New York state agency laws, give MERS the authority to assign the mortgage.

MERS argues that it holds legal title to mortgages for its member/lenders as both “nominee” and “mortgagee of record.” As such, it argues that any member/lender, which holds a note secured by real property, that assigns that note to another member by way of entry into the MERS database, need not also assign the mortgage because legal title to the mortgage remains in the name of MERS, as agent for any member/lender, which holds the corresponding note.

MERS’s position is that if a MERS member directs it to provide a written assignment of the mortgage, MERS has the legal authority, as an agent for each of its members, to assign mortgages to the member/lender currently holding the note as reflected in the MERS database.

Judge Grossman is going to examine all of these arguments and then some in his decision. But before he does that, he’s going to agree that he’s precluded from digging into the facts pertaining to the foreclosure judgment previously obtained in state court, and so he’s going to grant relief from the automatic stay and allow this foreclosure to proceed. And in that regard the judge writes…
For the reasons that follow, the Debtor’s objection to the Motion is overruled and the Motion is granted. The Debtor’s objection is overruled by application of either the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, or res judicata. Under those doctrines, this Court must accept the state court judgment of foreclosure as evidence of U.S. Bank’s status as a creditor secured by the Property. Such status is sufficient to establish the Movant’s standing to seek relief from the automatic stay. The Motion is granted on the merits because the Movant has shown, and the Debtor has not disputed, sufficient basis to lift the stay under Section 362(d).

Next the judge explains that, even though this court is constrained by Rooker-Feldman and the previously obtained state court decision, because there are numerous other cases before this court that present identical issues, and for which there have been no prior dispositive state court decisions, he’s going to look beyond this case’s limitations and publish a decision that addresses the issue of whether the “Movant” has established standing in this case because of the precedential effect it will have on other cases pending before the court. And so he writes…

Although the Court is constrained in this case to give full force and effect to the state court judgment of foreclosure, there are numerous other cases before this Court, which present identical issues with respect to MERS and in which there have been no prior dispositive state court decisions.

This Court has deferred rulings on dozens of other motions for relief from stay pending the resolution of the issue of whether an entity which acquires its interests in a mortgage by way of assignment from MERS, as nominee, is a valid secured creditor with standing to seek relief from the automatic stay.

It is for this reason that the Court’s decision in this matter will address the issue of whether the Movant has established standing in this case notwithstanding the existence of the foreclosure judgment. The Court believes this analysis is necessary for the precedential effect it will have on other cases pending before this Court.

The next paragraph of the judge’s decision is particularly telling. It is Judge Grossman completely disregarding perhaps MERS’ favorite argument, which is that MERS has to be okay because half the mortgages in this country are registered with MERS and if it’s not okay, the whole world will come to an end.

Judge Grossman states his view of this argument in no uncertain terms…

The Court recognizes that an adverse ruling regarding MERS’s authority to assign mortgages or act on behalf of its member/lenders could have a significant impact on MERS and upon the lenders, which do business with MERS throughout the United States.

However, the Court must resolve the instant matter by applying the laws as they exist today. It is up to the legislative branch, if it chooses, to amend the current statutes to confer upon MERS the requisite authority to assign mortgages under its current business practices.

MERS and its partners made the decision to create and operate under a business model that was designed in large part to avoid the requirements of the traditional mortgage recording process. This Court does not accept the argument that because MERS may be involved with 50% of all residential mortgages in the country, that is reason enough for this Court to turn a blind eye to the fact that this process does not comply with the law.
Wow, so you see what he’s saying there, right? It’s worth repeating…

MERS and its partners made the decision to create and operate under a business model that was designed in large part to avoid the requirements of the traditional mortgage recording process. This Court does not accept the argument that because MERS may be involved with 50% of all residential mortgages in the country, that is reason enough for this Court to turn a blind eye to the fact that this process does not comply with the law.
Did you hear that sound? That was the sound of the MERS ship hitting an iceberg and starting to sink. To the lifeboats, banker-people, your ship is sinking, and the water’s damn cold.

And on that note, it’s once again time to Sing-Along with Mandelman! You remember the song from our youth about “How they built the ship Titanic to sail the ocean blue? And they thought they had a ship that the water would never leak through. But the Lord’s almighty hand, knew that ship would never stand… it was sad when the great ship went down. It was sad, so sad… it was sad, so sad…” You remember that one right?

Alrighty then… so, sing it like you mean it… with feeling… and if you don’t want to sing, maybe you should be reading about this stuff on Naked Capitalism, or Firedog Lake… Yves Smith is smarter than all get out, but when was the last time she led you in song?

V1:

Oh they built the good ship MERS, so foreclosures could sail through,

And they thought they had a plan that the courts would never see through,

But some lawyers’ learned hands, showed that MERS just didn’t stand,

We were glad when the MERS ship went down.

~~~

CHORUS:

Oh we were glad, so glad,

We were glad, so glad,

We were glad when the MERS ship went down, to the bottom of the sea…

Many lost homes, but to those who lacked their loans,

We were glad when the MERS ship went down.

~~~

V2:

Oh, they went into the courts, hoping judges were inclined,

To not care exactly how, someone’s loan had been assigned.

Yes, the banks would rue the day, when they wrote that PSA,

We were glad when the MERS ship went down.

~~~

CHORUS:

Oh we were glad, so glad,

We were glad, so glad,

We were glad when the MERS ship went down, to the bottom of the sea…

Many lost homes, but to those who lacked their loans,

We were glad when the MERS ship went down.

~~~

V3:

MERS said it had the right, to do things as it pleased,

But the courts did not agree, and soon homes could not be seized.

Seems laws had important words, and MERS assertions were absurd,

We were glad when the MERS ship went down.

~~~

CHORUS:

Oh we were glad, so glad

We were glad, so glad

We were glad when the MERS ship went down, to the bottom of the sea…

Many lost homes, but to those who lacked their loans,

We were glad when the MERS ship went down.

V4:

Soon the bankers will all see, that fraud is not what prevails,

And they’ll realize their hot air will not fill this nation’s sails,

But the price will have been paid, for their mortgage-backed charade,

We were glad when the MERS ship went down.

~~~

CHORUS:

Oh we were glad, so glad

We were glad, so glad

We were glad when the MERS ship went down, to the bottom of the sea…

Many lost homes, but to those who lacked their loans,

We were glad when the MERS ship went down.

~~~

Okay, so I know there are at least a few people out there singing along with that little ditty from days spent at summer camp or on the school bus while on the way home from a field trip. Maybe next time I’ll work from Bingo Was His Name-O, or 100 bottles of Beer on the Wall.

Meanwhile, you’ve got plenty to do reading Judge Grossman’s decision as provided below. But, before you do, here are a few highlights, once again for those who want the Reader’s Digest Version.

First, from the MERS side of the argument…

In addition to adopting the arguments asserted by the Movant, MERS strenuously defends its authority to act as mortgagee pursuant to the procedures for processing this and other mortgages under the MERS “system.”

First, MERS points out that the Mortgage itself designates MERS as the “nominee” for the original lender, First Franklin, and its successors and assigns.

In addition, the lender designates, and the Debtor agrees to recognize, MERS “as the mortgagee of record and as nominee for ‘Lender and Lender’s successors and assigns’” and as such the Debtor “expressly agreed without qualification that MERS had the right to foreclose upon the premises as well as exercise any and all rights as nominee for the Lender.” (MERS Memorandum of Law at 7).

These designations as “nominee,” and “mortgagee of record,” and the Debtor’s recognition thereof, it argues, leads to the conclusion that MERS was authorized as a matter of law to assign the Mortgage to U.S. Bank.

Although MERS believes that the mortgage documents alone provide it with authority to effectuate the assignment at issue, they also urge the Court to broaden its analysis and read the documents in the context of the overall “MERS System.” According to MERS, each participating bank/lender agrees to be bound by the terms of a membership agreement pursuant to which the member appoints MERS to act as its authorized agent with authority to, among other things, hold legal title to mortgages and as a result, MERS is empowered to execute assignments of mortgage on behalf of all its member banks.

In this particular case, MERS maintains that as a member of MERS and pursuant to the MERS membership agreement, the loan originator in this case, First Franklin, appointed MERS “to act as its agent to hold the Mortgage as nominee on First Franklin’s behalf, and on behalf of First Franklin’s successors and assigns.”

MERS explains that subsequent to the mortgage’s inception, First Franklin assigned the Note to Aurora Bank FSB f/k/a Lehman Brothers Bank (“Aurora”), another MERS member. According to MERS, note assignments among MERS members are tracked via self-effectuated and self-monitored computer entries into the MERS database. As a MERS member, by operation of the MERS membership rules, Aurora is deemed to have appointed MERS to act as its agent to hold the Mortgage as nominee.

Aurora subsequently assigned the Note to U.S. Bank, also a MERS member. By operation of the MERS membership agreement, U.S. Bank is deemed to have appointed MERS to act as its agent to hold the Mortgage as nominee. Then, according to MERS, “U.S. Bank, as the holder of the note, under the MERS Membership Rules, chose to instruct MERS to assign the Mortgage to U.S. Bank prior to commencing the foreclosure proceedings by U.S. Bank.” (Affirmation of William C. Hultman, ¶12).

MERS argues that the express terms of the mortgage coupled with the provisions of the MERS membership agreement, is “more than sufficient to create an agency relationship between MERS and lender and the lender’s successors in interest” under New York law and as a result establish MERS’s authority to assign the Mortgage.

Okay, so that’s much of what MERS has to say about why it’s practices are fine and dandy, now let’s take a quick look at what the judge in this case has to say about the assignment of the note, among other things…

Noteholder Status

In the Motion, the Movant asserts U.S. Bank’s status as the “holder” of the Mortgage.

However, in order to have standing to seek relief from stay, Movant, which acts as the representative of U.S. Bank, must show that U.S. Bank holds both the Mortgage and the Note. Mims, 438 B.R. at 56. Although the Motion does not explicitly state that U.S. Bank is the holder of the Note, it is implicit in the Motion and the arguments presented by the Movant at the hearing.

However, the record demonstrates that the Movant has produced no evidence, documentary or otherwise, that U.S. Bank is the rightful holder of the Note.

Movant’s reliance on the fact that U.S. Bank’s noteholder status has not been challenged thus far does not alter or diminish the Movant’s burden to show that it is the holder of the Note as well as the Mortgage.

Under New York law, Movant can prove that U.S. Bank is the holder of the Note by providing the Court with proof of a written assignment of the Note, or by demonstrating that U.S. Bank has physical possession of the Note endorsed over to it. See, eg., LaSalle Bank N.A. v. Lamy, 824 N.Y.S.2d 769, 2006 WL 2251721, at *1 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. Aug. 7, 2006).

The only written assignment presented to the Court is not an assignment of the Note but rather an “Assignment of Mortgage” which contains a vague reference to the Note.

Tagged to the end of the provisions which purport to assign the Mortgage, there is language in the Assignment stating “To Have and to Hold the said Mortgage and Note, and also the said property until the said Assignee forever, subject to the terms contained in said Mortgage and Note.” (Assignment of Mortgage (emphasis added)).

Not only is the language vague and insufficient to prove an intent to assign the Note, but MERS is not a party to the Note and the record is barren of any representation that MERS, the purported assignee, had any authority to take any action with respect to the Note. Therefore, the Court finds that the Assignment of Mortgage is not sufficient to establish an effective assignment of the Note.

By MERS’s own account, it took no part in the assignment of the Note in this case, but merely provided a database, which allowed its members to electronically self-report transfers of the Note.

MERS does not confirm that the Note was properly transferred or in fact whether anyone including agents of MERS had or have physical possession of the Note. What remains undisputed is that MERS did not have any rights with respect to the Note and other than as described above, MERS played no role in the transfer of the Note.

Absent a showing of a valid assignment of the Note, Movant can demonstrate that U.S. Bank is the holder of the Note if it can show that U.S. Bank has physical possession of the Note endorsed to its name. See In re Mims, 423 B.R. at 56-57.

According to the evidence presented in this matter the manner in which the MERS system is structured provides that, “when the beneficial interest in a loan is sold, the promissory note is transferred by an endorsement and delivery from the buyer to the seller [sic], but MERS Members are obligated to update the MERS® System to reflect the change in ownership of the promissory note. . . .” (MERS Supplemental Memorandum of Law at 6).

However, there is nothing in the record to prove that the Note in this case was transferred according to the processes described above other than MERS’s representation that its computer database reflects that the Note was transferred to U.S. Bank.

The Court has no evidentiary basis to find that the Note was endorsed to U.S. Bank or that U.S. Bank has physical possession of the Note. Therefore, the Court finds that Movant has not satisfied its burden of showing that U.S. Bank, the party on whose behalf Movant seeks relief from stay, is the holder of the Note.

So, the judge is saying things that are very similar to what we’ve all heard before, most recently in the Ibanez Decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Court, and in the New Jersey court decision, Kemp v. Countrywide, among numerous others of late. How was the note assigned, was it endorsed properly, can the trustee even produce any evidence that the trust is the holder of the note?

What it would seem to come down to is quite simple, I think…

Does the trust that thinks that it owns the loan, actually own the loan, and can the trustee produce any evidence that it does own the loan?

If the loan was not properly transferred into the trust, and if there is no evidence that the trust owns the loan in question, then it would seem that the investor bought a mortgage-backed security without the mortgage-backed part, and my guess would be that the investors at this point don’t care about the mortgages… they will want their pound of flesh from the bankers whose massive securities fraud has robbed them of untold billions and destroyed the global financial system.

I’m not a lawyer, but with the first investor lawsuit against Bank of America – Countrywide having been filed just a couple weeks ago, and saying basically that the investor was delivered mortgage-backed securities without the mortgages, that’s how I’m seeing it start to stack up.

Now let’s look at what the judge says about the mortgage itself… you see… it’s supposed to follow the note, but when MERS is in the game, it simply doesn’t.

Mortgagee Status

The Movant’s failure to show that U.S. Bank holds the Note should be fatal to the Movant’s standing.

However, even if the Movant could show that U.S. Bank is the holder of the Note, it still would have to establish that it holds the Mortgage in order to prove that it is a secured creditor with standing to bring this Motion before this Court.

The Movant urges the Court to adhere to the adage that a mortgage necessarily follows the same path as the note for which it stands as collateral. See Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. v. Perry, 875 N.Y.S.2d 853, 856 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2009).

In simple terms the Movant relies on the argument that a note and mortgage are inseparable. See Carpenter v. Longan, 83 U.S. 271, 274 (1872).

While it is generally true that a mortgage travels a parallel path with its corresponding debt obligation, the parties in this case have adopted a process, which by its very terms alters this practice where mortgages are held by MERS as “mortgagee of record.”

By MERS’s own account, the Note in this case was transferred among its members, while the Mortgage remained in MERS’s name.

MERS admits that the very foundation of its business model as described herein requires that the Note and Mortgage travel on divergent paths. Because the Note and Mortgage did not travel together, Movant must prove not only that it is acting on behalf of a valid assignee of the Note, but also that it is acting on behalf of the valid assignee of the Mortgage5.

Footnote 5 – MERS argues that notes and mortgages processed through the MERS System are never “separated” because beneficial ownership of the notes and mortgages are always held by the same entity.

The Court will not address that issue in this Decision, but leaves open the issue as to whether mortgages processed through the MERS system are properly perfected and valid liens. See Carpenter v. Longan, 83 U.S. at 274 (finding that an assignment of the mortgage without the note is a nullity); Landmark Nat’l Bank v. Kesler, 216 P.3d 158, 166-67 (Kan. 2009)

(“In the event that a mortgage loan somehow separates interests of the note and the deed of trust, with the deed of trust lying with some independent entity, the mortgage may become unenforceable”).
Yes, you read that last part right. The mortgage may become unenforceable. That’s really the 800-pound Gorilla in the room, isn’t it? Do they own it or not, and if they broke the laws, who wins?

Many people get all upset about the idea that a homeowner could not have to pay their mortgage because the laws were broken related to the transfer of the note and mortgage, but I’m starting to think they’re just a bunch of crybabies. The law is the law and if it says that someone doesn’t owe their mortgage, well… good for them.

We’re a nation built on laws and forged by lawyers, and there have been a lot of unpopular decisions that rightly stood because they upheld our nation’s laws… Brown v. The Board of Education comes immediately to mind, but there are many.

We need our plaintiff’s lawyers, our judges and our courts, if we’re going to live through what’s ahead of us. We certainly can’t depend on our legislature or our executive branches… they have, for the most part, been bought and paid for… our system is corrupt with the money of lobbyists. Only our laws and our courts can see us through this, and I’m willing to abide by whatever they say follows the law.

Okay, so here’s just a bit more from Judge Grossman’s analysis and conclusion…

MERS asserts that its right to assign the Mortgage to U.S. Bank in this case, and in what it estimates to be literally millions of other cases, stems from three sources: the Mortgage documents; the MERS membership agreement; and state law.

In order to provide some context to this discussion, the Court will begin its analysis with an overview of mortgage and loan processing within the MERS network of lenders as set forth in the record of this case.

In the most common residential lending scenario, there are two parties to a real property mortgage – a mortgagee, i.e., a lender, and a mortgagor, i.e., a borrower. With some nuances and allowances for the needs of modern finance this model has been followed for hundreds of years.

The MERS business plan, as envisioned and implemented by lenders and others involved in what has become known as the mortgage finance industry, is based in large part on amending this traditional model and introducing a third party into the equation.

MERS is, in fact, neither a borrower nor a lender, but rather purports to be both “mortgagee of record” and a “nominee” for the mortgagee.

MERS was created to alleviate problems created by, what was determined by the financial community to be, slow and burdensome recording processes adopted by virtually every state and locality. In effect the MERS system was designed to circumvent these procedures. MERS, as envisioned by its originators, operates as a replacement for our traditional system of public recordation of mortgages.

MERS argues that it had full authority to validly execute the Assignment of Mortgage to U.S. Bank on February 1, 2008, and that as of the date the foreclosure proceeding was commenced U.S. Bank held both the Note and the Mortgage.

However, without more, this Court finds that MERS’s “nominee” status and the rights bestowed upon MERS within the Mortgage itself are insufficient to empower MERS to effectuate a valid assignment of mortgage.

There are several published New York state trial level decisions holding that the status of “nominee” or “mortgagee of record” bestowed upon MERS in the mortgage documents, by itself, does not empower MERS to effectuate an assignment of the mortgage.

However, the rules lack any specific mention of an agency relationship, and do not bestow upon MERS any authority to act. Rather, the rules are ambiguous as to MERS’s authority to take affirmative actions with respect to mortgages registered on its system.
That’s pretty clear, I think. MERS, you’re going down.

In addition to casting itself as nominee/agent, MERS seems to argue that its role as “mortgagee of record” gives it the rights of a mortgagee in its own right.

MERS relies on the definition of “mortgagee” in the New York Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law Section 1921, which states that a “mortgagee” when used in the context of Section 1921, means the “current holder of the mortgage of record . . . or their agents, successors or assigns.” N.Y. Real Prop. Acts. L. § 1921 (McKinney 2011).

The provisions of Section 1921 relate solely to the discharge of mortgages and the Court will not apply that definition beyond the provisions of that section in order to find that MERS is a “mortgagee” with full authority to perform the duties of mortgagee in its own right.

Aside from the inappropriate reliance upon the statutory definition of “mortgagee,” MERS’s position that it can be both the mortgagee and an agent of the mortgagee is absurd, at best.

Okay, so some of that gets a little technical, I agree, but the last sentence is about as straightforward as it gets… MERS’s position that it can be both the mortgagee and an agent of the mortgagee is absurd, at best. And wait… there’s just a little bit more…

Adding to this absurdity, it is notable in this case that the Assignment of Mortgage was by MERS, as nominee for First Franklin, the original lender.

By the Movant’s and MERS’s own admission, at the time the assignment was effectuated, First Franklin no longer held any interest in the Note.

Both the Movant and MERS have represented to the Court that subsequent to the origination of the loan, the Note was assigned, through the MERS tracking system, from First Franklin to Aurora, and then from Aurora to U.S. Bank. Accordingly, at the time that MERS, as nominee of First Franklin, assigned the interest in the Mortgage to U.S. Bank, U.S. Bank allegedly already held the Note and it was at U.S. Bank’s direction, not First Franklin’s, that the Mortgage was assigned to U.S. Bank.

Said another way, when MERS assigned the Mortgage to U.S. Bank on First Franklin’s behalf, it took its direction from U.S. Bank, not First Franklin, to provide documentation of an assignment from an entity that no longer had any rights to the Note or the Mortgage.

The documentation provided to the Court in this case (and the Court has no reason to believe that any further documentation exists), is stunningly inconsistent with what the parties define as the facts of this case.

However, even if MERS had assigned the Mortgage acting on behalf of the entity which held the Note at the time of the assignment, this Court finds that MERS did not have authority, as “nominee” or agent, to assign the Mortgage absent a showing that it was given specific written directions by its principal.

This Court finds that MERS’s theory that it can act as a “common agent” for undisclosed principals is not support by the law.

The relationship between MERS and its lenders and its distortion of its alleged “nominee” status was appropriately described by the Supreme Court of Kansas as follows: “The parties appear to have defined the word [nominee] in much the same way that the blind men of Indian legend described an elephant – their description depended on which part they were touching at any given time.”

For all of the foregoing reasons, the Court finds that the Motion in this case should be granted. However, in all future cases, which involve MERS, the moving party must show that it validly holds both the mortgage and the underlying note in order to prove standing before this Court.

February 10, 2011

Hon. Robert E. Grossman United States Bankruptcy Judge
~~~

It’s very important to realize that the judge’s findings related to MERS in this case are NOT BINDING ON ANY COURT.

As foreclosure defense attorney Thomas Cox explains:

“Judge Grossman’s findings about MERS are not binding on anyone, because they did not resolve any issue in the case where Rooker-Feldman blocked that inquiry.”
Cox says he won’t be surprised if the MERS/securitization/foreclosure industry spin mentions this point since the law prohibited the judge from going behind the judgment to see how U.S. Bank got the mortgage, then it also prohibited making binding findings about the MERS issue.

Cox further points out…

“On the other hand, with that being so, I am highly doubtful that U.S. Bank and Select Portfolio Servicing could appeal from those MERS holdings because their position in the case was not affected by them. While the judge did allow them to intervene, since the judge’s opinions about MERS are not binding on any court, I do not see how MERS could effectively argue that it suffered a legally cognizable harm. If and when Judge Grossman, or some other judge, in some other case uses the rationale laid out by Judge Grossman to nullify a MERS mortgage assignment, only then will a trustee and/or MERS have any ability to appeal the issue.”
Okay, so that about covers it, I’d say. Below you’ll find the Judge Grossman’s decision in its entirety, and hat tip to attorney Thomas Cox of Portland, Maine for bringing this decision to my attention, helping me to understand it, and continuing to go after the bastards with the strength and tenacity of a Mainer.

Mandelman out.

In re: Ferrel L. Agard, Debtor
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Housing Wire’s Ben Lane’s Article: Ocwen Posts Big Loss, Erasing Profits for 2015

Home » Ocwen posts big loss, erasing profits for 2015

Ben LaneOctober 28, 2015 5:08PM

http://www.housingwire.com/articles/35480-ocwen-posts-big-loss-erasing-profits-for-2015
As the company itself predicted just last month, Ocwen Financial (OCN) is now in a position to record a loss in 2015, after the nonbank reported Wednesday that it generated a net loss of $66.8 million in the third quarter or $0.53 per share.

The company generated revenue of $405 million, down 21% compared to the third quarter of 2014.

According to a note from Briefing.com, Ocwen’s third quarter results were worse than the Capital IQ Consensus, which had Ocwen posting a loss of $0.22 per share.

For the full year 2014, Ocwen recorded a net loss of $546 million, a stark reversal from 2013, when Ocwen reported net income of $310.4 million.

The company told its shareholders in September that it expected to post a loss in 2015 as well, citing lower revenue expectations coupled with higher expected operating, interest and tax expenses.

Ocwen actually posted profits – albeit small ones – in the first and second quarters of this year. In the first quarter, Ocwen reported net income of $34.4 million, while in the second quarter, Ocwen reported net income of $10 million, but those profits have been undone by Ocwen’s rough third quarter.

According to the company, its cash flows from operating activities were $239 million for the third quarter, compared to $349 million during the same period last year.

The company said that its pre-tax loss for the third quarter of 2015 was $55.9 million.

According to the company’s earnings statement, its pre-tax results were impacted by a “number of significant items” including:

$41.2 million of net gains from sales of performing and non-performing agency mortgage servicing rights relating to loans with a total unpaid principal balance of $22.0 billion
A loss of $23.4 million of interest rate driven impairment of the company’s Ginnie Mae MSRs carried at lower of cost or fair value
A loss of $17.4 million in restructuring costs, which included severance payments to 300 of the company’s residential servicing employees at Ocwen’s facility in Waterloo, Iowa, which represented 10% of the company’s approximately 2,900 U.S.-based employees; and Fiserv platform exit costs, which the company stated was going to cost $10 million
A loss of $12.5 million of monitor costs
A loss of $11.1 million in legacy servicing claim reserves
A loss of $11.0 million in legal and other settlement costs
A loss of $8.2 million of expense incurred pursuant to the company’s agreement with New Residential Investment Corp. in connection with downgrades to the company’s Standard & Poor’s servicer ratings
Additionally, the company’s servicing segment recorded a $12.7 million pre-tax loss inclusive of the gain on sales of MSRs, MSR fair value changes and legacy servicing claim reserves.

“In the third quarter, we continued to make progress on our strategic and operating initiatives,” Ron Faris, president and CEO of Ocwen, said.

“Our asset sale strategy has succeeded in generating proceeds and gains for the company, enabling us to reduce leverage and focus on simplifying our operations,” Faris said.

“Our operating cash flow remained strong, enabling us to end the quarter with more than $731 million in available liquidity, including $459 million of cash on hand,” Faris continued. “The capital markets also continue to demonstrate strong support for the company, as we were able to successfully refinance our $1.8 billion OMART servicing advance facility and execute an amendment with our term loan lenders to give us more flexibility moving forward.”

At the end of July, Faris told investors that the second half of 2015 will be “challenging” from an income perspective for Ocwen.

Ocwen has been undergoing a shift in its business model over the last 18 months, ever since its $150 million settlement with the New York Department of Financial Services over its servicing practices.

In December of last year, Faris announced that Ocwen was moving away from agency servicing, which the company has done throughout this year.

In fact, Ocwen’s servicing portfolio has fallen significantly in 2015.

As of Sept. 30, 2014, Ocwen’s servicing portfolio was $411.28 billion in unpaid principal balance.

As of Sept. 30, 2015, Ocwen’s servicing portfolio had fallen to $288.07 billion, a decrease of more than $123 billion.

Ocwen noted that it originated forward and reverse mortgage loans with unpaid principal balances of $1.1 billion and $198.5 million, respectively, in the third quarter.

“We are making solid progress in developing our lending capabilities including expansion of our product offering,” Faris said. “Additionally, we are progressing as expected on the cost improvement initiatives that we laid out in the third quarter and anticipate identifying additional opportunities to reduce our operating costs. We remain committed to investing in our risk, compliance and technology infrastructure, and delivering best-in-class service to our customers.”

Ben_lane2
Ben Lane is a reporter for HousingWire. Previously, he worked for TownSquareBuzz, a hyper-local news service. He is a graduate of University of North Texas.
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Remember 2013 JP Morgan Settlement

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Justice Department, Federal and State Partners Secure Record $13 Billion Global Settlement with JPMorgan for Misleading Investors About Securities Containing Toxic Mortgages
 

*CORRECTION: The release below previously stated that New York is receiving $613.8 million in this settlement, however, the number is $613.0 million. This correction notice was posted on Nov. 20, 2013.*

The Justice Department, along with federal and state partners, today announced a $13 billion settlement with JPMorgan – the largest settlement with a single entity in American history – to resolve federal and state civil claims arising out of the packaging, marketing, sale and issuance of residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) by JPMorgan, Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual prior to Jan. 1, 2009.  As part of the settlement, JPMorgan acknowledged it made serious misrepresentations to the public – including the investing public – about numerous RMBS transactions.  The resolution also requires JPMorgan to provide much needed relief to underwater homeowners and potential homebuyers, including those in distressed areas of the country.  The settlement does not absolve JPMorgan or its employees from facing any possible criminal charges.

This settlement is part of the ongoing efforts of President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force’s RMBS Working Group. 

“Without a doubt, the conduct uncovered in this investigation helped sow the seeds of the mortgage meltdown,” said Attorney General Eric Holder.  “JPMorgan was not the only financial institution during this period to knowingly bundle toxic loans and sell them to unsuspecting investors, but that is no excuse for the firm’s behavior.  The size and scope of this resolution should send a clear signal that the Justice Department’s financial fraud investigations are far from over.  No firm, no matter how profitable, is above the law, and the passage of time is no shield from accountability.  I want to personally thank the RMBS Working Group for its tireless work not only in this case, but also in the investigations that remain ongoing.”

The settlement includes a statement of facts, in which JPMorgan acknowledges that it regularly represented to RMBS investors that the mortgage loans in various securities complied with underwriting guidelines.  Contrary to those representations, as the statement of facts explains, on a number of different occasions, JPMorgan employees knew that the loans in question did not comply with those guidelines and were not otherwise appropriate for securitization, but they allowed the loans to be securitized – and those securities to be sold – without disclosing this information to investors.  This conduct, along with similar conduct by other banks that bundled toxic loans into securities and misled investors who purchased those securities, contributed to the financial crisis.
                                    
“Through this $13 billion resolution, we are demanding accountability and requiring remediation from those who helped create a financial storm that devastated millions of Americans,” said Associate Attorney General Tony West.  “The conduct JPMorgan has acknowledged – packaging risky home loans into securities, then selling them without disclosing their low quality to investors – contributed to the wreckage of the financial crisis.  By requiring JPMorgan both to pay the largest FIRREA penalty in history and provide needed consumer relief to areas hardest hit by the financial crisis, we rectify some of that harm today.”

Of the record-breaking $13 billion resolution, $9 billion will be paid to settle federal and state civil claims by various entities related to RMBS.  Of that $9 billion, JPMorgan will pay $2 billion as a civil penalty to settle the Justice Department claims under the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act (FIRREA), $1.4 billion to settle federal and state securities claims by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), $515.4 million to settle federal and state securities claims by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), $4 billion to settle federal and state claims by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), $298.9 million to settle claims by the State of California, $19.7 million to settle claims by the State of Delaware, $100 million to settle claims by the State of Illinois, $34.4 million to settle claims by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and $613 million to settle claims by the State of New York. 

JPMorgan will pay out the remaining $4 billion in the form of relief to aid consumers harmed by the unlawful conduct of JPMorgan, Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual.  That relief will take various forms, including principal forgiveness, loan modification, targeted originations and efforts to reduce blight.  An independent monitor will be appointed to determine whether JPMorgan is satisfying its obligations.  If JPMorgan fails to live up to its agreement by Dec. 31, 2017, it must pay liquidated damages in the amount of the shortfall to NeighborWorks America, a non-profit organization and leader in providing affordable housing and facilitating community development. 

The U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the Eastern District of California and Eastern District of Pennsylvania and the Justice Department’s Civil Division, along with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas, conducted investigations into JPMorgan’s, Washington Mutual’s and Bear Stearns’ practices related to the sale and issuance of RMBS between 2005 and 2008.

“Today’s global settlement underscores the power of FIRREA and other civil enforcement tools for combatting financial fraud,” said Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division Stuart F. Delery, co-chair of the RMBS Working Group.  “The Civil Division, working with the U.S. Attorney’s Offices and our state and agency partners, will continue to use every available resource to aggressively pursue those responsible for the financial crisis.”

“Abuses in the mortgage-backed securities industry helped turn a crisis in the housing market into an international financial crisis,” said U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California Benjamin Wagner.  “The impacts were staggering.  JPMorgan sold securities knowing that many of the loans backing those certificates were toxic.  Credit unions, banks and other investor victims across the country, including many in the Eastern District of California, continue to struggle with losses they suffered as a result.  In the Eastern District of California, we have worked hard to prosecute fraud in the mortgage industry.  We are equally committed to holding accountable those in the securities industry who profited through the sale of defective mortgages.”
                                
“Today’s settlement represents another significant step towards holding accountable those banks which exploited the residential mortgage-backed securities market and harmed numerous individuals and entities in the process,” said U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania Zane David Memeger.  “These banks packaged and sold toxic mortgage-backed securities, which violated the law and contributed to the financial crisis.  It is particularly important that JPMorgan, after assuming the significant assets of Washington Mutual Bank, is now also held responsible for the unscrupulous and deceptive conduct of Washington Mutual, one of the biggest players in the mortgage-backed securities market.”

This settlement resolves only civil claims arising out of the RMBS packaged, marketed, sold and issued by JPMorgan, Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual.  The agreement does not release individuals from civil charges, nor does it release JPMorgan or any individuals from potential criminal prosecution. In addition, as part of the settlement, JPMorgan has pledged to fully cooperate in investigations related to the conduct covered by the agreement.

To keep JPMorgan from seeking reimbursement from the federal government for any money it pays pursuant to this resolution, the Justice Department required language in the settlement agreement which prohibits JPMorgan from demanding indemnification from the FDIC, both in its capacity as a corporate entity and as the receiver for Washington Mutual.   

“The settlement announced today will provide a significant recovery for six FDIC receiverships.  It also fully protects the FDIC from indemnification claims out of this settlement,” said FDIC Chairman Martin J. Gruenberg.  “The FDIC will continue to pursue litigation where necessary in order to recover as much as possible for FDIC receiverships, money that is ultimately returned to the Deposit Insurance Fund, uninsured depositors and creditors of failed banks.”

“NCUA’s Board extends our thanks and appreciation to our attorneys and to the Department of Justice, who have worked closely together for more than three years to bring this matter to a successful resolution,” said NCUA Board Chairman Debbie Matz.  “The faulty mortgage-backed securities created and packaged by JPMorgan and other institutions created a crisis in the credit union industry, and we’re pleased a measure of accountability has been reached.”

“JPMorgan and the banks it bought securitized billions of dollars of defective mortgages,” said Acting FHFA Inspector General Michael P. Stephens.  “Investors, including Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, suffered enormous losses by purchasing RMBS from JPMorgan, Washington Mutual and Bear Stearns not knowing about those defects.  Today’s settlement is a significant, but by no means final step by FHFA-OIG and its law enforcement partners to hold accountable those who committed  acts of fraud and deceit.  We are proud to have worked with the Department of Justice, the U.S. attorneys in Sacramento and Philadelphia and the New York and California state attorneys general; they have been great partners and we look forward to our continued work together.”

The attorneys general of New York, California, Delaware, Illinois and Massachusetts also conducted related investigations that were critical to bringing about this settlement.

“Since my first day in office, I have insisted that there must be accountability for the misconduct that led to the crash of the housing market and the collapse of the American economy,” said New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Co-Chair of the RMBS Working Group.  “This historic deal, which will bring long overdue relief to homeowners around the country and across New York, is exactly what our working group was created to do.  We refused to allow systemic frauds that harmed so many New York homeowners and investors to simply be forgotten, and as a result we’ve won a major victory today in the fight to hold those who caused the financial crisis accountable.”

“JP Morgan Chase profited by giving California’s pension funds incomplete information about mortgage investments,” California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris said. “This settlement returns the money to California’s pension funds that JP Morgan wrongfully took from them.”

“Our financial system only works when everyone plays by the rules,” said Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden.  “Today, as a result of our coordinated investigations, we are holding accountable one of the financial institutions that, by breaking those rules, helped cause the economic crisis that brought our nation to its knees.  Even as the American people recover from this crisis, we will continue to seek accountability on their behalf.”

“We are still cleaning up the mess that Wall Street made with its reckless investment schemes and fraudulent conduct,” said Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.  “Today’s settlement with JPMorgan will assist Illinois in recovering its losses from the dangerous and deceptive securities that put our economy on the path to destruction.”

“This is a historic settlement that will help us to hold accountable those investment banks that played a role in creating and exacerbating the housing crisis,” said Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley.  “We appreciate the work of the Department of Justice and the other enforcement agencies in bringing about this resolution and look forward to continuing to work together in other securitization cases.”

The RMBS Working Group is a federal and state law enforcement effort focused on investigating fraud and abuse in the RMBS market that helped lead to the 2008 financial crisis.  The RMBS Working Group brings together more than 200 attorneys, investigators, analysts and staff from dozens of state and federal agencies including the Department of Justice, 10 U.S. attorney’s offices, the FBI, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), HUD’s Office of Inspector General, the FHFA-OIG, the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, the Federal Reserve Board’s Office of Inspector General, the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, and more than 10 state attorneys general offices around the country.

The RMBS Working Group is led by five co-chairs: Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division Stuart Delery, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division Mythili Raman, Co-Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement George Canellos, U.S. Attorney for the District of Colorado John Walsh and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

Learn more about the RMBS Working Group and the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force at: http://www.stopfraud.gov. 

Related Material:

Toxic Loans – Settlement for Investors, SCREW THE BORROWERS!!!

Settlement can be found at:

Click to access 471201471413656848428.pdf

This Settlement Agreement (“Agreement”) is entered into between the United States
acting through the United States Department of Justice (“Department of Justice”), along with the
States of California, Delaware, Illinois, and New York and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,
acting through their respective Attorneys General (collectively, “the States”), and Citigroup Inc.
(“Citigroup”). The United States, the States, and Citigroup are collectively referred to herein as
“the Parties.”
RECITALS
A. The Department of Justice conducted investigations of the packaging, marketing,
sale, structuring, arrangement, and issuance of residential mortgage-backed securities (“RMBS”)
and collateralized debt obligations (“CDOs”) by Citigroup between 2006 and 2007. Based on
those investigations, the United States believes that there is an evidentiary basis to compromise
potential legal claims by the United States against Citigroup for violations of federal laws in
connection with the packaging, marketing, sale, structuring, arrangement, and issuance of RMBS
and CDOs.
B. The States, based on their independent investigations of the same conduct, believe
that there is an evidentiary basis to compromise potential legal claims by California, Delaware,
Illinois, Massachusetts, and New York against Citigroup for state law violations in connection
with the packaging, marketing, sale, structuring, arrangement, and issuance of RMBS and CDOs.
C. Citigroup has resolved claims filed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
as Receiver for Strategic Capital Bank, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation as
Receiver for Colonial Bank (collectively, “FDIC”), alleging violations of federal and state
securities laws in connection with private-label RMBS issued, underwritten, and/or sold by
Citigroup. The terms of the resolution of those claims are memorialized in a separate agreement,
attached as Exhibit A.
D. Citigroup acknowledges the facts set out in the Statement of Facts set forth in
Annex 1, attached and hereby incorporated.
E. In consideration of the mutual promises and obligations of this Agreement, the
Parties agree and covenant as follows:
TERMS AND CONDITIONS
1. Payment. Citigroup shall pay a total amount of $4,500,000,000.00 to resolve pending
and potential legal claims in connection with the packaging, marketing, sale, structuring,
arrangement, and issuance of RMBS and CDOs by Citigroup (“Settlement Amount”). As set out
below, $4,000,000,000.00 of that amount will be deposited in the United States Treasury and the
remainder is paid to resolve the claims of the States and the FDIC, pursuant to the subsequent
provisions of this Paragraph 1.
A. Within fifteen business days of receiving written payment processing instructions
from the Department of Justice, Office of the Associate Attorney General, Citigroup shall pay
$4,208,250,000.00 of the Settlement Amount by electronic funds transfer to the Department of
Justice.
i. $4,000,000,000.00 of the Settlement Amount, and no other amount, is a civil
monetary penalty recovered pursuant to the Financial Institutions Reform,
Recovery and Enforcement Act of 1989 (“FIRREA”), 12 U.S.C. § 1833a. It will
be deposited in the General Fund of the United States Treasury.
ii. $208,250,000.00 and no other amount, is paid by Citigroup in settlement of the
claims of the FDIC identified in Recital Paragraph C, pursuant to the settlement
2
agreement attached hereto as Exhibit A, the terms of which are not altered or
affected by this Agreement.
B. $102,700,000.00, and no other amount, will be paid by Citigroup to the State of
California pursuant to Paragraph 6, below, and the terms of written payment instructions from
the State of California, Office of the Attorney General. Payment shall be made by electronic
funds transfer within fifteen business days of receiving written payment processing instructions
from the State of California, Office of the Attorney General.
C. $7,350,000.00, and no other amount, will be paid by Citigroup to the State of
Delaware pursuant to Paragraph 7, below, and the terms of written payment instructions from the
State of Delaware, Office of the Attorney General. Payment shall be made by electronic funds
transfer within fifteen business days of receiving written payment processing instructions from
the State of Delaware, Office of the Attorney General.
D. $44,000,000.00, and no other amount, will be paid by Citigroup to the State of
Illinois pursuant to Paragraph 8, below, and the terms of written payment instructions from the
State of Illinois, Office of the Attorney General. Payment shall be made by electronic funds
transfer within fifteen business days of receiving written payment processing instructions from
the State of Illinois, Office of the Attorney General.
E. $45,700,000.00, and no other amount, will be paid by Citigroup to the
Commonwealth of Massachusetts pursuant to Paragraph 9, below, and the terms of written
payment instructions from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Office of the Attorney General.
Payment shall be made by electronic funds transfer within fifteen business days of receiving
written payment processing instructions from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Office of the
Attorney General.
3
F. $92,000,000.00, and no other amount, will be paid by Citigroup to the State of
New York pursuant to Paragraph 10, below, and the terms of written payment instructions from
the State of New York, Office of the Attorney General. Payment shall be made by electronic
funds transfer within fifteen business days of receiving written payment processing instructions
from the State of New York, Office of the Attorney General.
2. Consumer Relief. In addition, Citigroup shall provide $2.5 billion worth of consumer
relief as set forth in Annex 2, attached and hereby incorporated as a term of this Agreement. The
value of consumer relief provided shall be calculated and enforced pursuant to the terms of
Annex 2. An independent monitor will be appointed to determine whether Citigroup has
satisfied the obligations contained in this Paragraph (such monitor to be Thomas J. Perrelli), and
any costs associated with said Monitor shall be borne by Citigroup.
3. Covered Conduct. “Covered Conduct” as used herein is defined as the creation,
pooling, structuring, arranging, formation, packaging, marketing, underwriting, sale, or issuance
prior to January 1, 2009 by Citigroup of the RMBS and CDOs identified in Annex 3, attached
and hereby incorporated. Covered Conduct includes representations, disclosures, or nondisclosures
to RMBS investors made in connection with the activities set forth above about the
underlying residential mortgage loans, where the representation or non-disclosure involves
information about or obtained during the process of originating, acquiring, securitizing,
underwriting, or servicing residential mortgage loans included in the RMBS identified in
Annex 3. Covered Conduct also includes representations, disclosures, or non-disclosures made
in connection with the activities set forth above about the CDOs identified in Annex 3, attached
and hereby incorporated. Covered Conduct does not include: (i) conduct relating to the
origination of residential mortgages, except representations or non-disclosures to investors in the
4
RMBS listed in Annex 3 about origination of, or about information obtained in the course of
originating, such loans; (ii) origination conduct unrelated to securitization, such as soliciting,
aiding or abetting borrower fraud; (iii) the servicing of residential mortgage loans, except
representations or non-disclosures to investors in the RMBS listed in Annex 3 about servicing, or
information obtained in the course of servicing, such loans; or (iv) representations or nondisclosures
made in connection with the trading of RMBS, except to the extent that the
representations or non-disclosures are in the offering materials for the underlying RMBS listed in
Annex 3.
4. Cooperation. Until the date upon which all investigations and any prosecution arising
out of the Covered Conduct are concluded by the Department of Justice, whether or not they are
concluded within the term of this Agreement, Citigroup shall, subject to applicable laws or
regulations: (a) cooperate fully with the Department of Justice (including the Federal Bureau of
Investigation) and any other law enforcement agency designated by the Department of Justice
regarding matters arising out of the Covered Conduct; (b) assist the Department of Justice in any
investigation or prosecution arising out of the Covered Conduct by providing logistical and
technical support for any meeting, interview, grand jury proceeding, or any trial or other court
proceeding; (c) use its best efforts to secure the attendance and truthful statements or testimony
of any officer, director, agent, or employee of any of the entities released in Paragraph 5 at any
meeting or interview or before the grand jury or at any trial or other court proceeding regarding
matters arising out of the Covered Conduct; and (d) provide the Department of Justice, upon
request, all non-privileged information, documents, records, or other tangible evidence regarding
matters arising out of the Covered Conduct about which the Department or any designated law
enforcement agency inquires.
5
5. Releases by the United States. Subject to the exceptions in Paragraph 12 (“Excluded
Claims”), and conditioned upon Citigroup’s full payment of the Settlement Amount (of which
$4 billion will be paid as a civil monetary penalty pursuant to FIRREA, 12 U.S.C. § 1833a), and
Citigroup’s agreement, by executing this Agreement, to satisfy the terms in Paragraph 2
(“Consumer Relief”) and Paragraph 4 (“Cooperation”), the United States fully and finally
releases Citigroup and each of its current and former subsidiaries and affiliated entities
(collectively, the “Released Entities”), and each of their respective successors and assigns from
any civil claim the United States has against the Released Entities for the Covered Conduct
arising under FIRREA, 12 U.S.C. § l833a; the False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. §§ 3729, et seq.; the
Program Fraud Civil Remedies Act, 31 U.S.C. §§ 3801, et seq.; the Racketeer Influenced and
Corrupt Organizations Act, 18 U.S.C. §§ 1961, et seq.; the Injunctions Against Fraud Act, 18
U.S.C. § 1345; common law theories of negligence, payment by mistake, unjust enrichment,
money had and received, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract, misrepresentation, deceit,
fraud, and aiding and abetting any of the foregoing; or that the Civil Division of the Department
of Justice has actual and present authority to assert and compromise pursuant to 28 C.F.R.
§ 0.45.
6. Releases by the California Attorney General. Subject to the exceptions in
Paragraph 12 (Excluded Claims), and conditioned solely upon Citigroup’s full payment of the
Settlement Amount (of which $102,700,000.00 will be paid to the Office of the California
Attorney General, in accordance with written payment instructions from the California Attorney
General, to remediate harms to the State, pursuant to California Government Code §§ 12650-
12656 and 12658, allegedly resulting from unlawful conduct of the Released Entities), the
California Attorney General fully and finally releases the Released Entities from any civil or
6
administrative claim for the Covered Conduct that the California Attorney General has authority
to bring, including but not limited to: California Corporate Securities Law of 1968, Cal.
Corporations Code § 25000 et seq., California Government Code §§ 12658 and 12660 and
California Government Code §§ 12650-12656, common law theories of negligence, payment by
mistake, unjust enrichment, money had and received, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of
contract, misrepresentation, deceit, fraud and aiding and abetting any of the foregoing. The
California Attorney General executes this release in her official capacity and releases only claims
that the California Attorney General has the authority to release for the Covered Conduct. The
California Attorney General agrees that no portion of the funds in this paragraph is received as a
civil penalty or fine, including, but not limited to any civil penalty or fine imposed under
California Government Code § 12651. The California Attorney General and Citigroup
acknowledge that they have been advised by their attorneys of the contents and effect of Section
1542 of the California Civil Code (“Section 1542”) and hereby expressly waive with respect to
this Agreement any and all provisions, rights, and benefits conferred by Section 1542.
7. Releases by the State of Delaware. Subject to the exceptions in Paragraph 12
(Excluded Claims), and conditioned solely upon Citigroup’s full payment of the Settlement
Amount (of which $7,350,000.00 will be paid to the State of Delaware, in accordance with
written payment instructions from the State of Delaware, Office of the Attorney General, to
remediate harms to the State allegedly resulting from unlawful conduct of the Released Entities),
the Delaware Department of Justice fully and finally releases the Released Entities from any civil
or administrative claim for the Covered Conduct that it has authority to bring, including but not
limited to: 6 Del. C. Chapter 12 (the Delaware False Claims and Reporting Act), 6 Del. C.
§§ 2511 et seq. (the Delaware Consumer Fraud Act), 6 Del. C. Chapter 73 (the Delaware
7
Securities Act), and common law theories of negligence, payment by mistake, unjust enrichment,
money had and received, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract, misrepresentation, deceit,
fraud and aiding and abetting any of the foregoing. The State of Delaware agrees that no portion
of the funds in this paragraph is received as a civil penalty or fine, including, but not limited to
any civil penalty or fine imposed under 6 Del. C. § 1201 or § 2522.
8. Releases by the State of Illinois. Subject to the exceptions in Paragraph 12 (Excluded
Claims), and conditioned solely upon Citigroup’s full payment of the Settlement Amount (of
which $44,000,000.00 will be paid to the State of Illinois, Office of the Attorney General, in
accordance with the written payment instructions from the State of Illinois, Office of the
Attorney General, to remediate harms to the State allegedly resulting from unlawful conduct of
the Released Entities), the Illinois Attorney General of the State of Illinois fully and finally
releases the Released Entities from any civil or administrative claim for the Covered Conduct
that it has authority to bring, including but not limited to: Illinois Securities Law of 1953, 815
Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/1 et seq., and common law theories of negligence, payment by mistake, unjust
enrichment, money had and received, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract,
misrepresentation, deceit, fraud and aiding and abetting any of the foregoing. The State of
Illinois agrees that no portion of the funds in this paragraph is received as a civil penalty or fine.
9. Releases of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Subject to the exceptions in
Paragraph 12 (Excluded Claims), and conditioned solely upon Citigroup’s full payment of the
Settlement Amount (of which $45,700,000.00 will be paid to the Commonwealth of
Massachusetts, in accordance with the written payment instructions from the Commonwealth of
Massachusetts, to remediate harms to the Commonwealth allegedly resulting from unlawful
conduct of the Released Entities), the Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
8
fully and finally releases the Released Entities from any civil claim for the Covered Conduct that
she has authority to bring, including but not limited to: M.G.L. c. 93A, M.G.L. c. 12, and
common law theories of negligence, payment by mistake, unjust enrichment, money had and
received, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract, misrepresentation, deceit, fraud and aiding
and abetting any of the foregoing. The payment to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts shall be
made to a trustee chosen by the Commonwealth, which shall hold the monies and distribute them
as directed by the Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General for consumer relief,
compensation to the Commonwealth and its entities, and pursuant to M.G.L. c. 12 § 4A,
implementation of this Agreement and related purposes. Funds or portions of the funds
remaining in the trust after 90 days, at the discretion of the Massachusetts Office of the Attorney
General, may be transferred to the Massachusetts Treasury. The Commonwealth of
Massachusetts agrees that no portion of the funds in this paragraph is received as a civil penalty
or fine.
10. Releases by the State of New York. Subject to the exceptions in Paragraph 12
(Excluded Claims), and conditioned solely upon Citigroup’s full payment of the Settlement
Amount (of which $92,000,000.00 will be paid to the State of New York, in accordance with
written payment instructions from the State of New York, Office of the Attorney General, to
remediate harms to the State allegedly resulting from unlawful conduct of the Released Entities),
the State of New York, by Eric T. Schneiderman, Attorney General of the State of New York,
fully and finally releases the Released Entities from any civil or administrative claim for the
Covered Conduct that it has authority to bring, including but not limited to any such claim
under: New York General Business Law Article 23A, New York Executive Law § 63(12), and
common law theories of negligence, payment by mistake, unjust enrichment, money had and
9
received, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract, misrepresentation, deceit, fraud and aiding
and abetting any of the foregoing. The payment to the State of New York shall be used, to the
maximum extent possible, for purposes of redeveloping and revitalizing housing and home
ownership and rebuilding communities in the State, and for programs intended to avoid
preventable foreclosures, to ameliorate the effects of the foreclosure crisis, to provide funding for
housing counselors and legal assistance, housing remediation and anti-blight projects, for code
enforcement, and to enhance law enforcement efforts involving financial fraud or unfair or
deceptive acts or practices. The State of New York agrees that no portion of the funds in this
paragraph is received as a civil penalty or fine.
11. Releases by the FDIC. The release of claims by the FDIC is contained in a separate
settlement agreement with Citi, attached as Exhibit A. Any release of claims by the FDIC is
governed solely by that separate settlement agreement.
12. Excluded Claims. Notwithstanding the releases in Paragraphs 5-11 of this Agreement,
or any other term(s) of this Agreement, the following claims are specifically reserved and not
released by this Agreement:
a. Any criminal liability;
b. Any liability of any individual;
c. Any liability arising under Title 26 of the United States Code (the Internal
Revenue Code);
d. Any liability to or claims of the FDIC (in its capacity as a corporation, receiver, or
conservator), except as expressly set forth in the separate agreement with the
FDIC;
10
e. Any claim related to compliance with the National Mortgage Settlement
(“NMS”), or to compliance with the related agreements reached between the
settling banks and individual states;
f. Any liability to or claims of the United States of America, the Department of
Housing and Urban Development/Federal Housing Administration, the
Department of Veterans Affairs, or Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac relating to whole
loans insured, guaranteed, or purchased by the Department of Housing and Urban
Development/Federal Housing Administration, the Department of Veterans
Affairs, or Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, except claims based on or arising from
the securitizations of any such loans in the RMBS or CDOs listed in Annex 1.
g. Any administrative liability, including the suspension and debarment rights of any
federal agency;
h. Any liability based upon obligations created by this Settlement Agreement;
i. Any liability for the claims or conduct alleged in the following qui tam actions,
and no setoff related to amounts paid under this Agreement shall be applied to any
recovery in connection with any of these actions:
(i) United States, et al. ex rel. Szymoniak v. American Home Mortgage
Servicing, Inc. et al., No. 0:10-cv-01465-JFA (D.S.C.), and United States
ex rel. Szymoniak v. ACE Securities Corp. et al., No. 13-cv-464-JFA
(D.S.C.); and
(ii) United States ex rel. [Sealed] v. [Sealed], as disclosed to Citigroup;
j. Claims raised in Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. Bank of America, N.A., et
al., Civ. No. 11-4363 (BLS1)(Massachusetts Suffolk Superior Court); and
11
k. Any claims related to the alleged manipulation of the London Interbank Offered
Rate or other currency benchmarks.
13. Releases by Citigroup. Citigroup and any current or former affiliated entity and any of
their respective successors and assigns fully and finally release the United States and the States,
and their officers, agents, employees, and servants, from any claims (including attorney’s fees,
costs, and expenses of every kind and however denominated) that Citigroup has asserted, could
have asserted, or may assert in the future against the United States and the States, and their
officers, agents, employees, and servants, related to the Covered Conduct and the investigation
and civil prosecution to date thereof.
14. Waiver of Potential FDIC Indemnification Claims by Citi. Citigroup hereby
irrevocably waives any right that it otherwise might have to seek (and in any event agrees that it
shall not seek) any form of indemnification, reimbursement or contribution from the FDIC in any
capacity, including the FDIC in its Corporate Capacity or the FDIC in its Receiver Capacity for
any payment that is a portion of the Settlement Amount set forth in Paragraph 1 of this
Agreement or of the Consumer Relief set forth in Paragraph 2 of this Agreement, including
payments to the United States and the States made pursuant to Paragraphs 1 and 2 of this
Agreement.
15. Waiver of Potential Defenses by Citigroup. Citigroup and any current or former
affiliated entity (to the extent that Citigroup retains liability for the Covered Conduct associated
with such affiliated entity) and any of their respective successors and assigns waive and shall not
assert any defenses Citigroup may have to any criminal prosecution or administrative action
relating to the Covered Conduct that may be based in whole or in part on a contention that, under
12
the Double Jeopardy Clause in the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution, or under the Excessive
Fines Clause in the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, this Agreement bars a remedy sought
in such criminal prosecution or administrative action.
16. Unallowable Costs Defined. All costs (as defined in the Federal Acquisition Regulation,
48 C.F.R. § 31.205-47) incurred by or on behalf of Citigroup, and its present or former officers,
directors, employees, shareholders, and agents in connection with:
a. the matters covered by this Agreement;
b. the United States’ audit(s) and civil investigation(s) of the matters covered by this
Agreement;
c. Citigroup’s investigation, defense, and corrective actions undertaken in response
to the United States’ audit(s) and civil and any criminal investigation(s) in
connection with the matters covered by this Agreement (including attorney’s
fees);
d. the negotiation and performance of this Agreement; and
e. the payment Citigroup makes to the United States pursuant to this Agreement, are
unallowable costs for government contracting purposes (hereinafter referred to as
“Unallowable Costs”).
17. Future Treatment of Unallowable Costs. Unallowable Costs will be separately
determined and accounted for by Citigroup, and Citigroup shall not charge such Unallowable
Costs directly or indirectly to any contract with the United States.
18. This Agreement is governed by the laws of the United States. The Parties agree that the
exclusive jurisdiction and venue for any dispute relating to this Agreement is the United States
District Court for the Eastern District of New York.
13
19. The Parties acknowledge that this Agreement is made without any trial or adjudication or
finding of any issue of fact or law, and is not a final order of any court or governmental
authority.
20. Each Party shall bear its own legal and other costs incurred in connection with this
matter, including the preparation and performance of this Agreement.
21. Each party and signatory to this Agreement represents that it freely and voluntarily enters
into this Agreement without any degree of duress or compulsion.
22. Nothing in this Agreement in any way alters the terms of the NMS, or Citigroup’s
obligations under the NMS.
23. Nothing in this Agreement constitutes an agreement by the United States concerning the
characterization of the Settlement Amount for the purposes of the Internal Revenue laws,
Title 26 of the United States Code.
24. For the purposes of construing the Agreement, this Agreement shall be deemed to have
been drafted by all Parties and shall not, therefore, be construed against any Party for that reason
in any dispute.
25. This Agreement constitutes the complete agreement between the Parties. This
Agreement may not be amended except by written consent of the Parties.
26. The undersigned counsel represent and warrant that they are fully authorized to execute
this Agreement on behalf of the persons and entities indicated below.
27. This Agreement may be executed in counterparts, each of which constitutes an original
and all of which constitute one and the same Agreement.
28. This Agreement is binding on Citigroup’s successors, transferees, heirs, and assigns.
14
29. All parties consent to the disclosure to the public of this Agreement, and information
about this Agreement, by Citigroup, the United States, the States, and the FDIC whose separate
settlement agreement is referenced herein and attached as an exhibit to this Agreement.
30. This Agreement is effective on the date of signature of the last signatory to the
Agreement (“Effective Date of this Agreement”). Facsimiles of signatures shall constitute
acceptable, binding signatures for purposes of this Agreement.
15
For the California Department of Justice:
California Attorney General
California Department of Justice
455 Golden Gate, Suite 1000
San Francisco, CA 941 02
Phone: (415) 703-5500
Dated: 7 I!J I/ [ I I

For the State of Illinois:
LISA MADIGAN
Attorney General State of Illinois
500 South Second Street .
Springfield, IL 62706
Phone: (217) 782-1090
Dated: -vr, I’1 I L1)’ 2A> /,,( —–f—-‘——–.,
For the Commonwealth of Massachusetts:
Office of the Attorney General
Attorney General Martha Coakley
GLENN KAPLAN
Assistant Attorney General
One Ashburton Place
Boston, MA 02108
Phone: (617)727-2200
Dated:
By:

I Was Depressed, But Am Much Better Now…

After I read some posts on others’ blogs, I really do feel much better. Wanna know which ones I read? Here they are:

“NO ENDORSEMENT, NO NEGOTIATION–NO NEGOTIATION, NO SECURITIZATION” On Liberty Road Media: http://libertyroadmedia.wordpress.com/2014/06/20/no-endorsement-no-negotiation-no-negotiation-no-securitization/

and I read this and it helped too!:

Ineptocracy from here:
http://tomfernandez28.com/2014/06/20/ineptocracy-3/

Of course this Helped a lot!:

http://www.newser.com/story/188674/miss-usa-doesnt-know-her-state-capital.html
but I actually read that here:
https://wordpress.com/

Freddie Mac Is Putting an 83 Year Old Lady Out on the Street!

It never ceases to amaze me.  With all these numerous govt. programs that are supposed to be helping Homeowners/Borrowers stay in their homes, I have to wonder just who the hell it is that they are allegedly helping.  A case in Colorado, that I have become aware of, the 83 year old woman is most likely going to be on the streets next week.  And guess who is putting her out of her home.?.  Freddie Mac.

For some stupid reason, I was under the impression that Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and others, along with all these billions of dollars from the robo-signing settlements, and the numerous entities alleging to be aiding those being foreclosed upon, and not one of them does a damned thing that I can see.  The propaganda they feed to everyone in the media, might sound good…You know that the housing market has picked up, foreclosures are down, new home buyers are up.?.  Yea right.  Somebody forgot to tell our neighborhood.  The vacant houses are still vacant.  Houses that should sale for $90,000, sell for $36,000.

But hey, the housing market has recovered.  RRRRiiiiiiiiiiiiggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhtttttttttttttttt!!!  In your dreams.

Unless and until the someone steps in, slaps these foreclosure mill attorneys around, you know, the ones that make up the fictional documents in the County’s Land Records, throw their asses in jail for the forgery, fraud, perjury, that they are so used to committing,  they ain’t ever gonna stop.  

Has anyone other than myself noticed that the foreclosure mill attorneys, and other attorneys who on a regular basis have been foreclosing on Borrowers/Homeowner and manufacturing documents to use to foreclose with; sign the Assignments, Deeds Under Power, and lie to the Courts; an have been doing it so long now, yes, they have been breaking the law for so long now in foreclosure cases, it has spilled over to other types of cases.  No matter what kind of case it is, there are certain attorneys, who continue breaking the law as if they were working a foreclosure case.  And the worst part, is the judges let them.  WTF?  It is bad.  They are violating the RICO, committing fraud, forgery, theft, perjury, and God only knows what else.

Now you have the full swat teams going to evictions.  If the cops don’t like the way things are going, they just kill the homeowner.  It has gotten way out of hand.   Looks like if you fight the banks and win, you either go to jail, or die.

Be safe yall!

Exclusive: NY Judge in Largest Bankruptcy Case in History Receives IRS & SEC Whistleblower Filing

24 APRIL 2014 63 COMMENTS

**WORLD EXCLUSIVE BREAKING STORY.** **MUST CREDIT INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST MARINKA PESCHMANN**

Creditor and Whistleblower evidence alleges securities fraud, income tax fraud and income tax evasion. Further investigation is necessary to protect millions of homeowners.

If you have not read this story, it is a must read!!!

Read it here:

http://www.marinkapeschmann.com/2014/04/24/exclusive-ny-judge-in-largest-bankruptcy-case-in-history-receives-irs-sec-whistleblower-filing/

 

FHFA HEAD TARGETED

Former FHFA Head DeMarco Targeted by Disgruntled Ex-COO

Handcuffs_Blue_Pic_05_07_14

Last week, Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Chief Operating Officer Richard Hornsby reportedly threatened to shoot the Agency’s former top official, Edward DeMarco. According to Bloomberg, the threat was made as part of a murder-suicide Hornsby had planned regarding Hornby’s job performance ratings as reported by DeMarco.

Hornsby was arrested April 29, charged with a single felony of threatening to kidnap or injure a person. DeMarco was taken to a secure location the following day. Hornsby has since been released as long as he does not assault, harass, threaten or stalk DeMarco. There is also a restraining order placed on Hornsby as a result of the threat.

The threat reportedly stems from a negative performance rating. This resulted in Hornsby making overtly threatening comments toward DeMarco at an accelerated rate. May 14 has been set as the date for when the next hearing is held for this case.

Hornsby began working at the FHFA in November 2011, after 25-plus years in various management roles at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. FHFA Head Mel Watt has named Eric Stein, a Treasury Department official who joined the FHFA in early 2014, as interim FHFA COO.

FHFA Settles With BofA for $5.83 Billion Over Countrywide Legacy Loans

http://nationalmortgageprofessional.com/news47937/FHFA-Settles-With-BofA-%245.83-Billion-Over-Countrywide-Legacy-Loans?utm_source=MadMimi&utm_medium=email&utm_content=NMP+Daily%3A+FHFA+Settles+With+BofA+for+%245_83+Billion+Over+Countrywide+Legacy+Loans+and+More+___&utm_campaign=20140327_m119753830_NMP+Daily%3A+FHFA+Settles+With+BofA+for+%245_83+Billion+Over+Countrywide+Legacy+Loans+and+More+___&utm_term=FHFA+Settles+With+BofA+for+_245_83+Billion+Over+Countrywide+Legacy+Loans

FHFA_Logo_04_13_12

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) has announced it has reached a settlement in cases involving Bank of America, Countrywide Financial, Merrill Lynch, and certain named individuals totaling approximately $5.83 billion. Bank of America Corporation owns Countrywide and Merrill Lynch. The cases alleged violations of federal and state securities laws in connection with private-label, residential mortgage-backed securities (PLS) purchased by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac between 2005 and 2007. Allegations of common law fraud were made in the Countrywide and Merrill Lynch cases.

The Agreement provides for an aggregate payment of approximately $9.33 billion by Bank of America that includes the litigation resolution as well as a purchase of securities by Bank of America from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

“FHFA has acted under its statutory mandate to recover losses incurred by the companies and American taxpayers and has concluded that this resolution represents a reasonable and prudent settlement of these cases,” said FHFA Director Melvin L. Watt. “This settlement also represents an important step in helping restore stability to our broader mortgage market and moving to bring back the role of private firms in providing mortgage credit. Many potential homeowners will benefit from increasing certainty in the marketplace and that is very much the direction we should be taking.”

Of the 18 PLS suits filed in 2011, FHFA now has claims remaining in seven suits against various institutions and remains committed to satisfactory resolution of these pending actions.

The settlement agreement regarding private label securities claims between FHFA and Bank of America involves the following cases: Federal Housing Finance Agency v. Bank of America Corp., et al., No. 11 Civ. 6195 (DLC) (S.D.N.Y.); Federal Housing Finance Agency v. Countrywide Financial Corp., et al., No. 12 Civ. 1059 (MRP) (C.D. Cal.); Federal Housing Finance Agency v. Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc., et al., No. 11 Civ. 6202 (DLC) (S.D.N.Y.); as well as one Merrill Lynch security in Federal Housing Finance Agency v. First Horizon National Corp., No. 11 Civ. 6193 (DLC) (S.D.N.Y.).

From Our Friends at LivingLies Hearsay on Hearsay

 

Hearsay on Hearsay: Bank Professional Witnesses Using Business Records Exception as Shield from Truth

by Neil Garfield

Wells Fargo Manual “Blueprint for Fraud”

Well that didn’t take long. Like the revelations concerning Urban Lending Solutions and Bank of America, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the the intermediary banks were hell bent for foreclosure regardless of what was best for the investors or the borrowers. This included, fraud, fabrication, unauthorized documents and signatures, perjury and outright theft of money and identities. I understand the agreement between the Bush administration and the large banks. And I understand the reason why the Obama administration continued to honor the agreements reached between the Bush administration and the large banks. They didn’t have a clue. And they were relying on Wall Street to report on its own behavior. But I’m sure the agreement did not even contemplate the actual crimes committed. I think it is time for US attorneys and the Atty. Gen. of each state to revisit the issue of prosecution of the major Wall Street banks.

With the passage of time we have all had an opportunity to examine the theory of “too big to fail.” As applied, this theory has prevented prosecutions for criminal acts. But more importantly it is allowing and promoting those crimes to be covered up and new crimes to be committed in and out of the court system. A quick review of the current strategy utilized in foreclosure reveals that nearly all foreclosures are based on false assumptions, no facts,  and a blind desire for expediency that  sacrifices access to the courts and due process. The losers are the pension funds that mistakenly invested into this scheme and the borrowers who were used as pawns in a gargantuan Ponzi scheme that literally exceeded all the money in the world.

Let’s look at one of the fundamental strategies of the banks. Remember that the investment banks were merely intermediaries who were supposedly functioning as broker-dealers. As in any securities transaction, the investor places in order and is responsible for payment to the broker-dealer. The broker-dealer tenders payment to the seller. The seller either issues the securities (if it is an issuer) or delivers the securities. The bank takes the money from the investors and doesn’t deliver it to an issuer or seller, but instead uses the money for its own purposes, this is not merely breach of contract —  it is fraud.

And that is exactly what the investors, insurers, government guarantors and other parties have alleged in dozens of lawsuits and hundreds of claims. Large banks have avoided judgment based on these allegations by settling the cases and claims for hundreds of billions of dollars because that is only a fraction of the money they diverted from investors and continue to divert. This continued  diversion is accomplished, among other ways, through the process of foreclosure. I would argue that the lawsuits filed by government-sponsored entities are evidence of an administrative finding of fact that closes the burden of proof to be shifted to the cloud of participants who assert that they are part of a scheme of securitization when in fact they were part of a Ponzi scheme.

This cloud of participants is managed in part by LPS in Jacksonville. If you are really looking for the source of documentation and the choice of plaintiff or forecloser, this would be a good place to start. You will notice that in both judicial and non-judicial settings, there is a single party designated as the apparent creditor. But where the homeowner is proactive and brings suit against multiple entities each of whom have made a claim relating to the alleged loan, the banks stick with presenting a single witness who is “familiar with the business records.” That phrase has been specifically rejected in most jurisdictions as proving the personal knowledge necessary for a finding that the witness is competent to testify or to authenticate documents that will be introduced in evidence. Those records are hearsay and they lack the legal foundation for introduction and acceptance into evidence in the record.

So even where the lawsuit is initiated by “the cloud” and even where they allege that the plaintiff is the servicer and even where they allege that the plaintiff is a trust, the witness presented at trial is a professional witness hired by the servicer. Except for very recent cases, lawyers for the homeowner have ignored the issue of whether the professional witness is truly competent,  and especially why the court should even be listening to a professional witness from the servicer when it is hearing nothing from the creditor. The business records which are proffered to the court as being complete are nothing of the sort. There documents prepared for trial which is specifically excluded from evidence under the hearsay rule and an exception to the business records exception.

Lately Chase has been dancing around these issues by first asserting that it is the owner of a loan by virtue of the merger with Washington Mutual. As the case progresses Chase admits that it is a servicer. Later they often state that the investor is Fannie Mae. This is an interesting assertion which depends upon complete ignorance by opposing counsel for the homeowner and the same ignorance on the part of the judge. Fannie Mae is not and never has been a lender. It is a guarantor, whose liability arises after the loss has been completely established following the foreclosure sale and liquidation to a third-party. It is also a master trustee for securitized trusts. To say that Fannie Mae is the owner of the alleged loan is an admission that the originator never loaned any money and that therefore the note and mortgage are invalid. It is also intentional obfuscation of the rights of the investors and trusts.

The multiple positions of Chase is representative of most other cases regardless of the name used for the identification of the alleged plaintiff, who probably doesn’t even know the action exists. That is why I suggested some years ago that a challenge to the right to represent the alleged plaintiff would be both appropriate and desirable. The usual answer is that the attorney represents all interested parties. This cannot be true because there is an obvious conflict of interest between the servicer, the trust, the guarantor, the trustee, and the broker-dealer that so far has never been named. Lawsuits filed by trust beneficiaries, guarantors, FDIC and insurers demonstrate this conflict of interest with great clarity.

I wonder if you should point out that if Chase was the Servicer, how could they not know who they were paying? As Servicer their role was to collect payments and send them to the creditor. If the witness or nonexistent verifier was truly familiar with the records, the account would show a debit to the account for payment to Fannie Mae or the securitized trust that was the actual source of funds for either the origination or acquisition of loans. And why would they not have shown that?  The reason is that no such payment was made. If any payment was made it was to the investors in the trust that lies behind the Fannie Mae curtain.

And if the “investor” had in fact received loss sharing payment from the FDIC, insurance or other sources how would the witness have known about that? Of course they don’t know because they have nothing to do with observing the accounts of the actual creditor. And while I agree that only actual payments as opposed to hypothetical payments should be taken into account when computing the principal balance and applicable interest on the loan, the existence of terms and conditions that might allow or require those hypothetical payments are sufficient to guarantee the right to discovery as to whether or not they were paid or if the right to payment has already accrued.

I think the argument about personal knowledge of the witness can be strengthened. The witness is an employee of Chase — not WAMU and not Fannie Mae. The PAA is completely silent about  the loans. Most of the loans were subjected to securitization anyway so WAMU couldn’t have “owned” them at any point in the false trail of securitization. If Chase is alleging that Fannie Mae in the “investor” then you have a second reason to say that both the servicing rights and the right to payment of principal, interest or monthly payments in doubt as to the intermediary banks in the cloud. So her testimony was hearsay on hearsay without any recognizable exception. She didn’t say she was custodian of records for anyone. She didn’t say how she had personal knowledge of Chase records, and she made no effort to even suggest she had any personal knowledge of the records of Fannie and WAMU — which is exactly the point of your lawsuit or defense.
 

If the Defendant/Appellee’s argument were to be accepted, any one of several defendants could deny allegations made against all the defendants individually just by producing a professional witness who would submit self-serving sworn affidavits from only one of the defendants. The result would thus benefit some of the “represented parties” at the expense of others.

Their position is absurd and the court should not be used and abused in furtherance of what is at best a shady history of the loan. The homeowner challenges them to give her the accurate information concerning ownership and balance, failing which there was no basis for a claim of encumbrance against her property. The court, using improper reasoning and assumptions, essentially concludes that since someone was the “lender” the Plaintiff had no cause of action and could not prove her case even if she had a cause of action. If the trial court is affirmed, Pandora’s box will be opened using this pattern of court conduct and Judge rulings as precedent not only in foreclosure actions, disputes over all types of loans, but virtually all tort actions and most contract actions.

Specifically it will open up a new area of moral hazard that is already filled with debris, to wit: debt collectors will attempt to insert themselves in the collection of money that is actually due to an existing creditor who has not sold the debt to the collector. As long as the debt collector moves quickly, and the debtor is unsophisticated, the case with the debt collector will be settled at the expense of the actual creditor. This will lead to protracted litigation as to the authority of the debt collector and the liability of the debtor as well as the validity of any settlement.

         Foreclosure filings were reported on 124,419 U.S. properties in January 2014, an 8 percent increase from December but still down 18 percent from January 2013.  Foreclosure filings were reported on 1,361,795 U.S. properties in 2013, down 26 percent from 2012 and down 53 percent from the peak of 2.9 million properties with foreclosure filings in 2010.  But still, 9.3 million U.S. residential properties were deeply underwater representing 19 percent of all properties with a mortgage in December 2013, down from 10.7 million homes underwater in September 2013.[1] 

            In 2006 there were 1,215,304 foreclosures, 545,000 foreclosure filings and 268,532 Home Repossessions.  By 2007 foreclosures had almost doubled – up to 2,203,295 with 1,260,000 foreclosure filings and 489,000 Home Repossessions.  2008 saw an even further increase to 3,019,482 foreclosures, 2,350,000 Foreclosure filings and 679,000 Home Repossessions.  In 20093,457,643 foreclosures, 2,920,000 foreclosure filings, and 945,000 Home Repossessions.  2010:  3,843,548 foreclosures, 3,500,000 foreclosure filings, and 1,125,000 Home Repossessions.  2011:  3,920,418 foreclosures, 3,580,000 foreclosure filings, and 1,147,000 Home Repossessions.  Then January to September 20121,616,427 foreclosures 1,382,000 foreclosure filings and 572,844 Repossessions.  The remainder of 2012 – September through December saw an additional 2,300,000 foreclosures, 2,100,000 foreclosure filings and 700,000 Repossessions.  In other words, from 2006 through 2012, there were a total of  21,576,117 foreclosures; 17,637,000 foreclosure filings; 5,926,376 Home Repossessions.  The foreclosures added to the repossessions is equal to:  27,502,493[2].  The numbers are staggering.

            Many of the homes have been wrongfully foreclosed upon, where either the party had not been in default, or the foreclosing party lacked standing to foreclose.  It has become almost as lawless as the wildwest, or comparable to a shark feeding frenzy.


[1] All of the foreclosure figures came from RealtyTrac:  http://www.realtytrac.com/content/foreclosure-market-report

[2] http://www.statisticbrain.com/home-foreclosure-statistics/                                                                 Statistic Verification  Source: RealtyTrac, Federal Reserve, Equifax

Whistleblower, Szymoniak Has It Going On!

Banks, Mortgage Companies Defrauded HUD, Veteran Whistleblower Says

FEB 5, 2014 1:30pm ET
 

A whistleblower with a track record of wresting large settlements from banks is suing 22 companies for allegedly filing fraudulent mortgage documents with the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Lynn E. Szymoniak, famous for her 2011 “60 Minutes” interview on the robo-signing scandal, filed a lawsuit late Monday against the companies, including Deutsche Bank, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America. The Palm Beach, Fla., plaintiff’s lawyer alleges the 22 banks, mortgage servicers, trustees, custodians and default management companies created fraudulent mortgage assignments and submitted tens of thousands of false claims to HUD.

The lawsuit is a stark reminder that banks still face massive litigation and potential settlements for wrongdoing from the mortgage boom and financial crisis. On Wednesday, JPMorgan Chase acknowledged that it violated the False Claims Act and agreed to pay $614 million to settle claimsthat it improperly approved Federal Housing Administration and Veterans Affairs loans that did not meet underwriting standards.

HUD oversees the FHA, which reimburses servicers for losses and fees when government-guaranteed loans go into foreclosure.

Banks can be held liable for treble damages under the False Claims Act if they are found to have “falsely certified” that mortgages met all FHA requirements. The act also gives whistleblowers the right to file suit on behalf of the government.

“It’s been very difficult to uncover how fraudulent documents were created and spread through the system,” says Reuben Guttman, Szymoniak’s attorney at the firm of Grant & Eisenhofer. “Lynn Szymoniak did the original analysis, looked at documents and put the pieces together in a way that nobody else did.”

The new lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court in South Carolina. Several of the defendants, including Deutsche Bank and Wells Fargo, said they are reviewing the lawsuit and could not immediately comment.

In 2012, Szymoniak helped the government recover $95 million from the top five mortgage servicers, as part of the $25 billion national mortgage settlement. She personally received $18 million for providing information on the filing of false claims on FHA loans.

The suit also seeks to recover damages and penalties on behalf of the federal government, 16 states, the District of Columbia and the cities of Chicago and New York for the financial harm incurred in the purchase of private-label mortgage-backed securities that allegedly used fraudulent documents in foreclosure filings since 2008.

As investors in mortgage bonds, the government and others paid fees and expenses for services such as reviewing all mortgage documents put into trusts that were supposed to be performed by trustees. The federal government bought mortgage-backed securities with missing or forged documents through several avenues, including the Federal Reserve’s direct purchases and Maiden Lane vehicles, and the Treasury Department’s purchases through public-private partnership investment funds, the suit states.

The complaint does not specify damages but Szymoniak says she expects them to total around $10 billion.

The fraudulent mortgage documents were created because the original loans documents either were never delivered to the securitization trusts, or they were lost or destroyed, the lawsuit states. Many of the documents were created years after the trusts’ closing dates and showed the trusts acquired the loans only after they were in default.

Servicers “devised and operated a scheme to replace the missing documents,” the lawsuit states, and to conceal the fact that the trusts and servicers never actually held the mortgage notes and assignments, which are needed to initiate a foreclosure.

Szymoniak was also instrumental in uncovering fraud and forged documents at DocX, a now-defunct subsidiary of Lender Processing Services. She worked with the Federal Bureau of Investigations and U.S. Attorney’s office in Jacksonville, Fla., that ultimately led to the conviction of an LPS executive, the closure of DocX, firm, and varioussettlements by LPS, which is now owned by Black Knight Financial Services.

 

Jeff Barnes/Foreclosure Defense Nationwide “New Legal Issues”

NEW LEGAL ISSUES COMING UP IN TRIAL AND APPELLATE COURTS

DECEMBER 16, 2013

With the release of the US Bank admissions per our post of November 6, 2013; the issuance of the opinions from the Supreme Courts of Oregon and Montana holding that MERS is not the “beneficiary”; and recent opinions from various jurisdictions which are now, finally, holding that securitization-related issues are relevant in a foreclosure, a host of new legal issues are about to be litigated in the trial and appellate courts throughout the country. It has taken six (6) years and coast-to-coast work to get courts to realize that securitization of a mortgage loan raises issues as to standing, real party in interest, and the alleged authority to foreclose, and that the simplistic mantra of the “banks” and servicers of “we have the note, thus we win” is no longer to be blindly accepted.

One issue which we and others are litigating relates to mortgage loans originated by Option One, which changed its name to Sand Canyon Corporation and thereafter ceased all mortgage loan operations. Pursuant to the sworn testimony of the former President of Sand Canyon, it stopped owning mortgage loans as of 2008. However, even after this cessation of any involvement with servicing or ownership of mortgage loans, we see “Assignments” from Option One or Sand Canyon to a securitization trustee bank or other third party long after 2008.

The United States District Court for the District of New Hampshire concluded, with the admission of the President of Sand Canyon, that the homeowner’s challenge to the foreclosure based on a 2011 alleged transfer from Sand Canyon to Wells Fargo was not an “attack on the assignment” which certain jurisdictions have precluded on the alleged basis that the borrower is not a party to the assignment, but is a situation where no assignment occurred because it could not have as a matter of admitted fact, as Sand Canyon could not assign something it did not have. The case is Drouin v. American Home Mortgage Servicing, Inc. and Wells Fargo, etc., No. 11-cv-596-JL.

The Option One/Sand Canyon situation is not unique: there are many originating “lenders” which allegedly “assigned” mortgages or Deeds of Trust long after they went out of business or filed for Bankruptcy, with no evidence of post-closing assignment authority or that the Bankruptcy court having jurisdiction over a bankrupt lender ever granted permission for the alleged transfer of the loan (which is an asset of the Bankruptcy estate) out of the estate. Such a transfer without proof of authority to do so implicates bankruptcy fraud (which is a serious crime punishable under United States criminal statutes), and fraud on the court in a foreclosure case where such an alleged assignment is relied upon by the foreclosing party.

As we stated in our post of November 6, the admission of US Bank that a borrower is a party to any MBS transaction and that the loan is governed by the trust documents means that the borrower is, in fact, a party to any assignment of that borrower’s loan, and should thus be permitted to seek discovery as to any alleged assignment and all issues related to the securitization of the loan. We have put this issue out in many of our cases, and will be arguing this position at both the trial and appellate levels beginning early 2014.

Jeff Barnes, Esq., http://www.ForeclosureDefenseNationwide.com

Sentiments of US District Judge, Jed S. Rakoff – We Need More Judges Like This One!

I was reading some information about the financial crisis in this country (USA), and ran across a paper written by US District Court Judge Jed S. Rakoff.  If we had more Judges with the mind of this one, we would not be in nearly as bad a shape as we are in.  I have not yet figured out how the Judges justify allowing foreclosures, when they know for a fact that the Banks and their attorneys are creating fraudulent documents, committing perjury in their Courtrooms, and are breaking so many laws, that it has become the norm…  

Read what Honorable Judge Jed S. Rakoff says:  http://www.ft.com/cms/cb1e43f2-4be6-11e3-8203-00144feabdc0.pdf

11/12/13
Why Have No High Level Executives Been Prosecuted In Connection With The Financial Crisis?
by Jed S. Rakoff
(U.S. District Judge)

Five years have passed since the onset of what is sometimes called the Great Recession. While the economy has slowly improved, there are still millions of Americans leading lives of quiet desperation: without jobs, without resources, without hope.

Who was to blame? Was it simply a result of negligence, of the kind of inordinate risk-taking commonly called a “bubble,” of an imprudent but innocent failure to maintain adequate reserves for a rainy day? Or was it the result, at least in part, of fraudulent practices, of dubious mortgages portrayed as sound risks and packaged into ever-more-esoteric financial instruments, the fundamental weaknesses of which were intentionally obscured?

If it was the former – if the recession was due, at worst, to a lack of caution – then the criminal law has no role to play in the aftermath. For, in all but a few circumstances (not here relevant), the fierce and fiery weapon called criminal prosecution is directed at intentional misconduct, and nothing less. If the Great Recession was in no part the handiwork of intentionally fraudulent practices by high-level executives, then to prosecute such executives criminally would be “scapegoating” of the most shallow and despicable kind.

But if, by contrast, the Great Recession was in material part the product of intentional fraud, the failure to prosecute those responsible must be judged one of the more egregious failures of the criminal justice system in many years.Indeed, it would stand in striking contrast to the increased success that federal prosecutors have had over the past 50 years or so in bringing to justice even the highest level figures who orchestrated mammoth frauds. Thus, in the 1970’s, in the aftermath of the “junk bond” bubble that, in many ways, was a precursor of the more recent bubble in mortgage-backed securities, the progenitors of the fraud were all successfully prosecuted, right up to Michael Milken. Again, in the 1980’s, the so-called savings-and-loan crisis, which again had some eerie parallels to more recent events, resulted in the successful criminal prosecution of more than 800 individuals, right up to Charles Keating. And, again, the widespread accounting frauds of the 1990’s, most vividly represented by Enron and WorldCom, led directly to the successful prosecution of such previously respected C.E.O.’s as Jeffrey Skilling and Bernie Ebbers.

In striking contrast with these past prosecutions, not a single high level executive has been successfully prosecuted in  connection with the recent financial crisis, and given the fact that most of the relevant criminal provisions are governed by a five-year statute of limitations, it appears very likely that none will be. It may not be too soon, therefore, to ask why.

One possibility, already mentioned, is that no fraud was committed. This possibility should not be  discounted. Every case is different, and I, for one, have no opinion as to whether criminal fraud was committed in any given instance.

 But the stated opinion of those government entities asked to examine the financial crisis overall is not that no fraud was committed. Quite the contrary. For example, the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, in its final report, uses variants of the word “fraud” no fewer than 157 times in describing what led to the crisis, concluding that there was a “systemic breakdown,” not just in  accountability, but also in ethical behavior. As the Commission found, the signs of fraud were everywhere to be seen, with the number of reports of suspected mortgage fraud rising 20-fold between 1998 and 2005 and then doubling again in the next four years. As early as 2004, FBI Assistant Director Chris Swecker, was publicly warning of the “pervasive problem” of mortgage fraud, driven by the voracious demand for mortgagebacked securities. Similar warnings, many from within the financial community, were disregarded, not because they were  viewed as inaccurate, but because, as one high level banker put it, “A decision was made that ‘We’re going to have to hold our nose and start buying the product if we want to stay in business.’”

Without multiplying examples, the point is that, in the aftermath of the financial crisis, the prevailing view of many government officials (as well as others) was that the crisis was in material respects the product of intentional fraud. In a nutshell, the fraud, they argued, was a simple one. Subprime mortgages, i.e., mortgages of dubious creditworthiness, increasingly provided the sole collateral for highly-leveraged securities that were marketed as triple-A, i.e., of very low risk. How could this transformation of a sow’s ear into a silk purse be accomplished unless someone dissembled along the way?

While officials of the Department of Justice have been more circumspect in describing the roots of the financial crisis than have the various commissions of inquiry and other government agencies, I have seen nothing to indicate their disagreement with the widespread conclusion that fraud at every level permeated the bubble in mortgage-backed securities. Rather, their position has been to excuse their failure to prosecute high level individuals for fraud in connection with the financial crisis on one or more of three grounds:

First, they have argued that proving fraudulent intent on the part of the high level management of the banks and companies involved has proved difficult. It is undoubtedly true that the ranks of top management were several levels removed from those who were putting together the collateralized debt obligations and other securities offerings that were based on dubious mortgages; and the people generating the mortgages themselves were often at other companies and thus even further removed. And I want to stress again that I have no opinion as to whether any given top executive had knowledge of the dubious nature of the underlying mortgages, let alone fraudulent intent. But what I do find surprising is that the Department of Justice should view the proving of intent as so difficult in this context. Who, for example, were generating the so-called “suspicious activity” reports of mortgage fraud that, as mentioned, increased so hugely in the years leading up to the crisis? Why, the banks themselves. A top level banker, one might argue, confronted with increasing evidence from his own and other banks that mortgage fraud was increasing, might have inquired as to why his bank’s mortgage-based securities continued to receive triple-A ratings?  And if, despite these and other reports of suspicious activity, the executive failed to make such inquiries, might it be because he did not want to know what such inquiries would reveal?  

This, of course, is what is known in the law as “willful blindness” or “conscious disregard.” It is a well-established basis on which federal prosecutors have asked juries to infer intent, in cases involving complexities, such as accounting treatments, at least as esoteric as those involved in the events leading up to the financial crisis. And while some federal courts have occasionally expressed qualifications about the use of the willful blindness approach to prove intent, the Supreme Court has consistently approved it. As that Court stated most recently in Global-Tech Appliances, Inc. v. SEB S.A., 131 S.Ct. 2060, 2068 (2011), “The doctrine of willful blindness is well established in criminal law. Many criminal statutes require proof that a defendant acted knowingly or willfully, and courts applying the doctrine of willful blindness hold that defendants cannot escape the reach of these statutes by deliberately shielding themselves from clear evidence of critical facts that are strongly suggested by the circumstances.” Thus, the Department’s claim that proving intent in the financial crisis context is particularly difficult may strike some as doubtful.

Second, and even weaker, the Department of Justice has sometimes argued that, because the institutions to whom mortgagebacked securities were sold were themselves sophisticated investors, it might be difficult to prove reliance. Thus, in  defending the failure to prosecute high level executives for frauds arising from the sale of mortgage-backed securities, the then head of the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, told PBS that “in a criminal case … I have to prove not only that you made a false statement but that you intended to commit a crime, and also that the other side of the transaction relied on what you were saying. And frankly, in many of the securitizations and the kinds of transactions we’re talking about, in reality you had very sophisticated counterparties on both sides. And so even though one side may have said something was dark blue when really we can say it was sky blue, the other side of the transaction, the other sophisticated party, wasn’t relying at all on the description of the color.”

Actually, given the fact that these securities were bought and sold at lightning speed, it is by no means obvious that even a sophisticated counterparty would have detected the problems with the arcane, convoluted mortgage-backed derivatives they were being asked to purchase. But there is a more fundamental problem with the above-quoted statement from the former head of the Criminal Division, which is that it totally misstates the law.  In actuality, in a criminal fraud case the Government is never required to prove reliance, ever. The reason, of course, is that would give a crooked seller a license to lie whenever he was  dealing with a sophisticated counterparty.  The law, however, says that society is harmed when a seller purposely lies about a material fact, even if the immediate purchaser does not rely on that particular fact, because such misrepresentations create problems for the market as a whole. And surely there never was a situation in which the sale of dubious mortgage-backed securities created more of a huge problem for the marketplace, and society as a whole, than in the recent financial crisis.

The third reason the Department has sometimes given for not bringing these prosecutions is that to do so would itself harm the economy. Thus, Attorney General Holder himself told Congress that “it does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if we do prosecute – if we do bring a criminal charge – it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy.” To a federal judge, who takes an oath to apply the law equally to rich and to poor, this excuse — sometimes labeled the “too big to jail” excuse – is disturbing, frankly, in what it says about the
Department’s apparent disregard for equality under the law.

In fairness, however, Mr. Holder was referring to the prosecution of financial institutions, rather than their
C.E.O.’s. But if we are talking about prosecuting individuals, the excuse becomes entirely irrelevant; for no one that I know of has ever contended that a big financial institution would collapse if one or more of its high level executives were prosecuted, as opposed to the institution itself.

Without multiplying examples further, my point is that the Department of Justice has never taken the position that all the top executives involved in the events leading up to the financial crisis were innocent, but rather has offered one or another excuse for not criminally prosecuting them – excuses that, on inspection, appear unconvincing. So, you might ask, what’s really going on here? I don’t claim to have any inside information about the real reasons why no such prosecutions have been brought, but I take the liberty of offering some speculations, for your consideration or amusement as the case may be.

At the outset, however, let me say that I totally discount the argument sometimes made that no such prosecutions have been brought because the top prosecutors were often people who previously represented the financial institutions in question and/or were people who expected to be representing such
institutions in the future: the so-called “revolving door.” In my experience, every federal prosecutor, at every level, is seeking to make a name for him-or-herself, and the best way to do that is by prosecuting some high level person. While companies that are indicted almost always settle, individual defendants whose careers are at stake will often go to trial. And if the Government wins such a trial, as it usually does, the prosecutor’s reputation is made.My point is that whatever small influence the “revolving door” may have in discouraging certain white-collar prosecutions is more than offset, at least in the case of prosecuting high-level individuals, by the career-making benefits such prosecutions confer on the successful prosecutor.  So, one asks again, why haven’t we seen such prosecutions growing out of the financial crisis? I offer, by way of speculation, three influences that I think, along with others, have had the effect of limiting such prosecutions.

First, the prosecutors had other priorities. Some of these were completely understandable. For example, prior to 2001, the FBI had more than 1,000 agents assigned to investigating financial frauds, but after 9/11 many of these agents were shifted to anti-terrorism work. Who can argue with that?  Eventually, it is true, new agents were hired for some of the vacated spots in fraud detection; but this is not a form of detection easily learned and recent budget limitations have only exacerbated the problem.

Of course, the FBI is not the primary investigator of fraud in the sale of mortgage-backed securities; that responsibility lies mostly with the S.E.C. But at the very time the financial crisis was breaking, the S.E.C. was trying to deflect criticism from its failure to detect the Madoff fraud, and this led it to concentrate on other Ponzi-like schemes, which for awhile were, along with accounting frauds, its chief focus. More recently, the S.E.C. has been hard hit by budget limitations, and this has not only made it more difficult to assign the kind of manpower the kinds of frauds we are talking about require, but also has led S.E.C. enforcement to focus on the smaller, easily resolved cases that will beef up their statistics when they go to Congress begging for money.

As for the Department of Justice proper, a decision was made around 2009 to spread the investigation of these financial fraud cases among numerous U.S. Attorney’s Offices, many of which had little or no prior experience in investigating and prosecuting sophisticated financial frauds. At the same time, the U.S. Attorney’s Office with the greatest expertise in these kinds of cases, the Southern District of New York, was just embarking on its prosecution of insider trading cases arising from the Rajaratnam tapes, which soon proved a gold mine of good cases that absorbed a huge amount of the attention of the securities fraud unit of that office. While I want to stress again that I have no inside information, as a former chief of that unit I would venture to guess that the cases involving the financial crisis were parceled out to Assistants who also had insider trading cases. Which do you think an Assistant would devote most of her attention to:  an insider trading case that was already nearly ready to go to indictment and that might lead to a highvisibility trial, or a financial crisis case that was just getting started, would take years to complete, and had no guarantee of even leading to an indictment? Of course, she would put her energy into the insider trading case, and if she was lucky, it would go to trial, she would win, and she would then take a job with a large law firm. And in the process, the financial fraud case would get lost in the shuffle.

Alternative priorities, in short, is, I submit, one of the reasons the financial fraud cases were not brought, especially cases against high level individuals that would take many years, many investigators, and a great deal of expertise to investigate.  But a second, and less salutary, reason for not bringing such cases is the Government’s own involvement in the underlying circumstances that led to the financial crisis.

On the one hand, the government, writ large, had a hand in creating the conditions that encouraged the approval of dubious mortgages. It was the government, in the form of Congress, that repealed Glass-Steagall, thus allowing certain banks that had previously viewed mortgages as a source of interest income to become instead deeply involved in securitizing pools of mortgages in order to obtain the much greater profits available from trading. It was the government, in the form of both the executive and the legislature, that encouraged deregulation, thus weakening the power and oversight not only of the S.E.C. but also of such diverse banking overseers as the O.T.S. and the O.C.C. It was the government, in the form of the Fed, that kept interest rates low in part to encourage mortgages. It was the government, in the form of the executive, that strongly encouraged banks to make loans to low-income persons who might have previously been regarded as too risky to warrant a mortgage. It was the government, in the form of the government-sponsored entities known as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, that helped create the fora-time insatiable market for mortgage-backed securities. And it was the government, pretty much across the board, that acquiesced in the ever greater tendency not to require meaningful documentation as a condition of obtaining a mortgage, often preempting in this regard state regulations designed to assure greater mortgage quality and a borrower’s ability to repay.

The result of all this was the mortgages that later became known as “liars’ loans.” They were increasingly risky; but what did the banks care, since they were making their money from the securitizations; and what did the government care, since they  were helping to boom the economy and helping voters to realize their dream of owning a home.

Moreover, the government was also deeply enmeshed in the aftermath of the financial crisis. It was the government that proposed the shotgun marriages of Bank of America with Merrill Lynch, of J.P. Morgan with Bear Stearns, etc. If, in the process, mistakes were made and liabilities not disclosed, was it not partly the government’s fault?

Please do not misunderstand me. I am not alleging that the Government knowingly participated in any of the fraudulent practices alleged by the Financial Inquiry Crisis Commission and others. But what I am suggesting is that the Government was deeply involved, from beginning to end, in helping create the conditions that could lead to such fraud, and that this would give a prudent prosecutor pause in deciding whether to indict a C.E.O. who might, with some justice, claim that he was only doing what he fairly believed the Government wanted him to do.

 The final factor I would mention is both the most subtle and the most systemic of the three, and arguably the most important, and it is the shift that has occurred over the past 30 years or more from focusing on prosecuting high-level individuals to focusing on prosecuting companies and other institutions. It is true that prosecutors have brought criminal charges against companies for well over a hundred years, but, until relatively recently, such prosecutions were the exception, and prosecutions of companies without simultaneous prosecutions of their managerial agents were even rarer. The reasons were obvious. Companies do not commit crimes; only their agents do. And while a company might get the benefit of some such crimes, prosecuting the company would inevitably punish, directly or indirectly, the many employees and shareholders who were totally innocent.   Moreover, under the law of most U.S. jurisdictions, a company cannot be criminally liable unless at least one managerial agent has committed the crime in question; so why not prosecute the agent who actually committed the crime?

 In recent decades, however, prosecutors have been increasingly attracted to prosecuting companies, often even without indicting a single individual. This shift has often been rationalized as part of an attempt to transform “corporate cultures,” so as to prevent future such crimes; and, as a result, it has taken the form of “deferred prosecution agreements” or even “non-prosecution agreements,” in which the company, under threat of criminal prosecution, agrees to take various prophylactic measures to prevent future wrongdoing. But in practice, I suggest, it has led to some lax and dubious behavior on the part of prosecutors, with deleterious results.    

If you are a prosecutor attempting to discover the individuals responsible for an apparent financial fraud, you go about your business in much the same way you go after mobsters or drug kingpins: you start at the bottom and, over many months or years, slowly work your way up. Specifically, you start by “flipping” some lower level participant in the fraud whom you can show was directly responsible for making one or more false material misrepresentations but who is willing to cooperate in order to reduce his sentence, and – aided by the substantial prison penalties now available in white collar cases – you go up the ladder. For a detailed example of how this works, I recommend Kurt Eichenwald’s well-known book The Informant, which describes how FBI agents, over a period of three years, uncovered the huge price-fixing conspiracy involving high-level executives at Archer Daniels, all of whom were successfully prosecuted.

But if your priority is prosecuting the company, a different scenario takes place. Early in the investigation, you invite in counsel to the company and explain to him or her why you suspect fraud. He or she responds by assuring you that the company wants to cooperate and do the right thing, and to that end the company has hired a former Assistant U.S. Attorney, now a partner at a respected law firm, to do an internal investigation. The company’s counsel asks you to defer your investigation until the company’s own internal investigation is completed, on the condition that the company will share its results with you. In order to save time and resources, you agree. Six months later the company’s counsel returns, with a detailed report showing that mistakes were made but that the company is now intent on correcting them. You and the company then agree that the company will enter into a deferred prosecution agreement that couples some immediate fines with the imposition of expensive but internal prophylactic measures. For all practical purposes the case is now over. You are happy because you believe that you have helped prevent future crimes; the company is happy because it has avoided a devastating indictment; and perhaps the happiest of all are the executives, or former executives, who actually committed the underlying misconduct, for they are left untouched. 

I suggest that this is not the best way to proceed. Although it is supposedly justified in terms of preventing future crimes, I suggest that the future deterrent value of successfully prosecuting individuals far outweighs the prophylactic benefits of imposing internal compliance measures that are often little more than window-dressing. Just going after the company is also both technically and morally suspect. It is technically suspect because, under the law, you should not indict or threaten to indict a company unless you can prove beyond a reasonable doubt  that some managerial agent of the company committed the alleged crime; and if you can prove that, why not indict the manager?  And from a moral standpoint, punishing a company and its many innocent employees and shareholders for the crimes committed by some unprosecuted individuals seems contrary to elementary notions of moral responsibility.

These criticisms take on special relevance, however, in the instance of investigations growing out of the financial crisis, because, as noted, the Department of Justice’s position, until at least very, very recently, is that going after the suspect institutions poses too great a risk to the nation’s economic recovery. So you don’t go after the companies, at least not criminally, because they are too big to jail; and you don’t go after the individuals, because that would involve the kind of years-long investigations that you no longer have the experience or the resources to pursue.

In conclusion, I want to stress again that I have no idea whether the financial crisis that is still causing so many of us so much pain and despondency was the product, in whole or in part, of fraudulent misconduct. But if it was — as various governmental authorities have asserted it was –- then, the failure of the government to bring to justice those responsible for such colossal fraud bespeaks weaknesses in our prosecutorial system that need to be addressed.

Jeff Barnes, Esq. On the Ball!

http://foreclosuredefensenationwide.com/?p=533

US BANK ADMITS, IN WRITING FROM THEIR CORPORATE OFFICE, THAT THE BORROWER IS A PARTY TO AN MBS TRANSACTION; THAT SECURITIZATION TRUSTEES ARE NOT INVOLVED IN THE FORECLOSURE PROCESS; HAVE NO ADVANCE KNOWLEDGE OF WHEN A LOAN HAS DEFAULTED; THAT THE “TRUE BENEFICIAL OWNERS” OF A SECURITIZED MORTGAGE ARE THE INVESTORS IN THE MBS; AND THAT THE GOAL OF A SERVICER IS TO “MAXIMIZE THE RETURN TO INVESTORS”                                                                                                                                                                                                 November 6, 2013

 We have been provided with a copy of U.S. Bank Global Corporate Trust Services’ “Role of the Corporate Trustee” brochure which makes certain incredible admissions, several of which squarely disprove and nullify the holdings of various courts around the country which have taken the position that the borrower “is not a party to” the securitization and is thus not entitled to discovery or challenges to the mortgage loan transfer process. The brochure accompanied a letter from US Bank to one of our clients which states: “Your account is governed by your loan documents and the Trust’s governing documents”, which admission clearly demonstrates that the borrower’s loan is directly related to documents governing whatever securitized mortgage loan trust the loan has allegedly been transferred to. This brochure proves that Courts which have held to the contrary are wrong on the facts. 

The first heading of the brochure is styled “Distinct Party Roles”. The first sentence of this heading states: “Parties involved in a MBS transaction include the borrower, the originator, the servicer and the trustee, each with their own distinct roles, responsibilities and limitations.” MBS is defined at the beginning of the brochure as the sale of “Mortgage Backed Securities in the capital markets”. The fourth page of the brochure also identifies the “Parties to a Mortgage Backed Securities Transaction”, with the first being the “Borrower”, followed by the Investment Bank/Sponsor, the Investor, the Originator, the Servicer, the Trust (referred to “generally as a special purpose entity, such as a Real Estate Mortgage Investment Conduit (REMIC)”), and the Trustee (stating that “the trustee does not have an economic or beneficial interest in the loans”). 

The second page sets forth that U.S. Bank, as Trustee, “does not have any discretion or authority in the foreclosure process.” If this is true, how can U.S. Bank as Trustee be the Plaintiff in judicial foreclosures or the foreclosing party in non-judicial foreclosures if it has “no authority in the foreclosure process”? 

The second page also states: “All trustees for MBS transactions, including U.S. Bank, have no advance knowledge of when a mortgage loan has defaulted.” Really? So when, for example, MERS assigns, in 2011, a loan to a 2004 Trust where the loan has been in default since 2008, no MBS “trustee” bank (and note that it says “All” trustees) do not know that a loan coming into the trust is in default? The trust just blindly accepts loans which may or may not be in default without any advanced due diligence? Right. Sure. Of course. LOL. 

However, that may be true, because the trustee banks do not want to know, for then they can take advantage of the numerous insurances, credit default swaps, reserve pools, etc. set up to pay the trust when loans are in default, as discussed below. 

The same page states that “Any action taken by the servicer must maximize the return on the investment made by the ‘beneficial owners of the trust’ — the investors.” The fourth page of the brochure states that the investors are “the true beneficial owners of the mortgages”, and the third page of the brochure states “Whether the servicer pursues a foreclosure or considers a modification of the loan, the goal is still to maximize the return to investors” (who, again, are the true beneficial owners of the mortgage loans). 

This is a critical admission in terms of what happens when a loan is securitized. The borrower initiated a mortgage loan with a regulated mortgage banking institution, which is subject to mortgage banking rules, regulations, and conditions, with the obligation evidenced by the loan documents being one of simple loaning of money and repayment, period. Once a loan is sold off into a securitization, the homeowner is no longer dealing with a regulated mortgage banking institution, but with an unregulated private equity investor which is under no obligation to act in the best interest to maintain the loan relationship, but to “maximize the return”. This, as we know, almost always involves foreclosure and denial of a loan mod, as a foreclosure (a) results in the acquisition of a tangible asset (the property); and (b) permits the trust to take advantage of reserve pools, credit default swaps, first loss reserves, and other insurances to reap even more monies in connection with the claimed “default” (with no right of setoff as to the value of the property against any such insurance claims), and in a situation where the same risk was permitted to be underwritten many times over, as there was no corresponding legislation or regulation which precluded a MBS insurer (such as AIG, MGIC, etc.) from writing a policy on the same risk more than once. 

As those of you know who have had Bloomberg reports done on securitized loans, the screens show loans which have been placed into many tranches (we saw one where the same loan was collateralized in 41 separate tranches, each of which corresponded to a different class of MBS), and with each class of MBS having its own insurance, the “trust” could make 41 separate insurance claims AND foreclose on the house as well! Talk about “maximizing return for the investor”! What has happened is that the securitization parties have unilaterally changed the entire nature of the mortgage loan contract without any prior notice to or approval from the borrower. 

There is no language in any Note or Mortgage document (DOT, Security Deed, or Mortgage) by which the borrower is put on notice that the entire nature of the mortgage loan contract and the other contracting party may be unilaterally changed from a loan with a regulated mortgage lender to an “investment” contract with a private equity investor. This, in our business, is called “fraud by omission” for purposes of inducing someone to sign a contract, with material nondisclosure of matters which the borrower had to have to make the proper decision as to whether to sign the contract or not. 

U.S. Bank has now confirmed, in writing from its own corporate offices in St. Paul, Minnesota, so much of what we have been arguing for years. This brochure should be filed in every securitization case for discovery purposes and opposing summary judgments or motions to dismiss where the securitized trustee “bank” takes the position that “the borrower is not part of the securitization and thus has no standing to question it.” U. S. Bank has confirmed that the borrower is in fact a party to an MBS transaction, period, and that the mortgage loan is in fact governed, in part, by “the Trust’s governing documents”, which are thus absolutely relevant for discovery purposes. 

Jeff Barnes, Esq.,

http://www.ForeclosureDefenseNationwide.com

New post on Livinglies’s Weblog

Fannie and Freddie Demand $6 Billion for Sale of “Faulty Mortgage Bonds”

by Neil Garfield

You read the news on one settlement after another, it sounds like the pound of flesh is being exacted from the culprits again and again. This time the FHFA, as owner of Fannie and Freddie, is going for a settlement with Bank of America for sale of “faulty mortgage bonds.” And most people sit back and think that justice is being done. It isn’t. $6 Billion is window dressing on a liability that is at least 100 times that amount. And stock analysts take comfort that the legal problems for the banks has basically been discounted already. It hasn’t.

For practitioners who defend mortgage foreclosures, you must dig a little deeper. The term “faulty mortgage bonds” is a euphemism. Look at the complaints there filed. When they are filed by agencies it means that after investigation they have arrived at the conclusion that something was. very wrong with the sale of mortgage bonds. That is an administrative finding that concluded there was at least probable cause for finding that the mortgage bonds were defective and potentially were criminal.

So what does “defective” or “faulty” mean? Neither the media nor the press releases from the agencies or the banks tell us what was wrong with the bonds. But if you look at the complaints of the agencies, they tell you what they mean. If you look at the investor lawsuits you see that they are alleging that the notes and mortgages were “unenforceable.” Both the agencies and the investors filed complaints alleging that the mortgage bonds were a farce, sham or in other words, a PONZI Scheme.

Why is that important to foreclosure defense? Digging deeper you will find what I have been reporting on this blog. The investors money was not used to fund the REMIC trusts. The unfunded trusts never had the money to buy or fund the origination of bonds. The notes and mortgages were never sold to the Trusts even though “assignments” were executed and shown in court. The assignments themselves were either backdated or violated the 90 day cutoff that under applicable law (the laws of the State of New York) are VOID and not voidable.

What to do? File Freedom of Information Act requests for the findings, allegations and names of investigators for the agency that were involved in the agency action. Take their deposition. Get documents. Find put what mortgages were looked at and which bond series were involved. Get a list of the mortgages and the bonds that were examined. Get the findings on each mortgage and each mortgage bond. Use the the investor allegations as lender admissions admissions in court — that the notes and mortgages are unenforceable.

There is a disconnect between what is going on at the top of the sham securitization chain and what went on in sham mortgage originations and sham sales of loans. They never happened in the real world, no matter how much paper you throw at it.

And that just doesn’t apply to mortgages in default — it applies to all mortgages, which is why all the mortgages that currently exist, and most of the deeds that show ownership of the property have clouded and probably “defective” and “faulty” titles. It’s clear logic that the government and the banks are seeking to avoid, to wit: that if the way in which the money was raised to fund the loans or purchase the loans were defective, then it follows that there are defects in the chain of title and the money trail that were obviously not disclosed, as per the requirements of TILA and Reg Z.

And when you keep digging in discovery you will find out that your client has some clear remedies to collect the profits and compensation paid to undisclosed recipients arising out of the closing of the “loan.” These are offsets to the amount claimed as due. If the loan was not funded by the Trust, then the false paper trail used by the banks in foreclosure is subject to successful attack. If the loans were in fact funded directly by the trust complying with the REMIC provisions of the Internal Revenue Code, then the payee on the note and the mortgagee on the mortgage would be the trust — or if the loan was actually purchased, the Trust would have issued money to the seller (something that never happened).

And lastly, for now, let us look at the capital structure of these banks. A substantial portion of their capital derives from assets in the form of mortgage bonds. This is the most blatant lie of all of them. No underwriter buys the securities issued by the company seeking financing through an offering to investors. It is an oxymoron. The whole purpose of the underwriter was to create securities that would be appealing to investors. The securities are only issued when you have a buyer for them, and then the investor is the owner of the security — in this case mortgage bonds.

The bonds are not issued to the investment bank as an asset of the investment bank. But they ARE issued to the investment bank in “street name.” That is merely to facilitate trading and delivery of certificates which in most cases in the mortgage bond market don’t exist. The issuance in street name does not mean the banks own the mortgage bonds any more than when you a stock and the title is issued in street name mean that you have loaned or gifted the investment to the investment bank.

If you follow the logic of the investment bank then the deposits of money by depository customers could be claimed as assets — without the required entry in the liabilities section of the balance sheet because every dollar on deposit is a liability to pay those monies on demand, which is why checking accounts are referred to as demand deposits.

Hence the “asset” has been entered on the investment bank balance sheet without the corresponding liability on the other side of their balance sheet. And THAT remains that under cover of Federal Reserve purchase of these bonds from the banks, who don’t own the bonds, the value of the bonds is 100 cents on the dollar and the owner is the bank — a living lies fundamental. When the illusion collapses, the banks are coming down with it. You can only go so far lying to the public and the investment community. Eventually the reality is these banks are underfunded, under capitalized and still being propped up by quantitative easing disguised as the purchase of mortgage bonds at the rate of $85 Billion per month.

We need to be preparing for the collapse of the illusion and get the other financial institutions — 7,000 community and regional banks and credit unions — ready to take on the changes caused by the absence of the so-called major banks who are really fictitious entities without a foundation related to economic reality. The backbone is already available — electronic funds transfer is as available to the smallest bank as it is to the largest. It is an outright lie that we need the TBTF banks. They have failed and cannot recover because of the enormity of the lies they told the world. It’s over.

“How Much Time Is Left?” by Karl Denninger

http://beforeitsnews.com/alternative/2013/09/how-much-time-is-left-2777550.html

 “How Much Time Is Left?”

Friday, September 27, 2013 17:09

(Before It’s News) 

“How Much Time Is Left?”
by Karl Denninger

“There is an old truism: Revolution is a game for the young. It’s true. Look at the people who rose up in the Middle East. Or anywhere else for that matter.  It is rare to find a grizzled old man in the crowd, and women (of any age) are rare too. No, these sorts of things tend to require a fair bit of testosterone or, if you prefer a bit raunchier language, young and full of cum. The same dynamic is why military forces don’t draft 40 or 50 year old men. It’s not, in the world of technology, all about being able to hump a pack with no mechanical assistance, although certainly physical exertion is part of it. No, it’s the same thing – testosterone is an asset. 

So it is with alarm that I am watching this sort of display: “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid went so far as to call one counterproposal “stupid.” The Senate is set to take up the bill shortly after noon on Friday. The package as currently written would defund ObamaCare while also funding the government past Sept. 30, though Democrats are planning to promptly strip the ObamaCare measure. If it passes the Senate, House Republicans will then have to decide whether to insist on including anti-ObamaCare provisions.” 

Not having a final set of prices yet for Florida’s “Obamacare” choices, I’m somewhat-guessing here since what I have at this point is preliminary. But what I’m seeing is alarming. It appears that if I choose to participate I can have one of these plans for less than my catastrophic plan costs now (which I’m sure will “go away”, although I have yet to be formally notified of that.) 

Here’s the problem: I’m in really good health. I have no conditions and take no medications. Zero. My blood sugar and weight are normal, I don’t smoke and I’m quite active physically. I’m the 25% guy (or less) in my age group (~50) and all I need to do to prove that is walk around any of the public watering holes or other gathering places. So if my price is going down but I will get more than I get now then for someone sicker than me their price is going down a lot. 

Who’s price is going up? The 20ish year old person. The young family. The people who have thus far chosen (wisely, at that) to go without. So once again, as we did to our kids with college “educations” and “student loans”, we’re now doing it again, except this time it’s even worse in that you can’t “opt out” or the goons in government will come and shove a gun up your ass (via the IRS.)

Let’s be clear about this folks: We deserve to be eaten.

Yes, I said eaten.

As in caused to assume room temperature.

Then skinned.

Then slathered in BBQ sauce (to cover the bad taste.)

Then grilled.

And consumed.

And the people who should do it to you?

Your children.

Now granted, that’s harsh. And no, I’m not advocating it, I’m saying we deserve it. The people of this nation have no right to the love and respect of their offspring. None. Quite the contrary, we deserve to treated as food.  We have managed to extract promises that cannot be kept and what’s worse the attempt to do so is guaranteed to essentially enslave our younger generation.

I have for a long time lamented that the younger folks in our country seem to be very unmotivated, striving only to do what they have to in order to get by rather than being innovators and making a true effort to excel. I no longer hold this against them. I understand it. Their response to these abuses is non-violent and cannot be assailed – it is in fact logical.

Let’s me ask you the obvious but damned uncomfortable question: Would you prefer the violent – yet still logical, considering what we’ve done to them – alternative?

We, the older people in this country who not only refused to act over the last two decades of financial fraud and abuse in both the private sector and government but in addition continue to refuse to act to stop it to this very day deserve it.

Even though this attitude and passive refusal by our youth will destroy our nation’s competitiveness, the root cause of it is our pig-headed acts and the demand to write checks we cannot cash, insisting that they cash them instead so we can feast while they starve.

We lose the fundamental right to do that with our offspring when our children reach 18 and no longer have a claim on our assets and earnings power in exchange for their sustenance and protection.  Note that from birth to 18 while the relationship may have an essentially parasitic character to it there is a quid-pro-quo that we return to our kids.  You can argue over whether this is just but not whether it’s necessary, since an infant is physically incapable of survival and growth without outside assistance.

That transition from a power relationship to one of equals, even friends, is one that is supposed to happen over time from birth to emancipation. It is in fact our jobs as parents – our only job – to execute on that.

But we’ve become pigs.

We’re not content to perform that task and discharge our responsibilities. When we discovered that we can’t force our now-18 year olds to mow the lawn any more in exchange for an allowance, we then passed laws that tax them to cover our health care after we chose to be gluttonous jackasses, poisoning our bodies and then demanding the latest, most-expensive medical care that we cannot pay for ourselves. Worse, we let government and the “educational monopoly” design a system that is utterly rapacious and designed to screw our youth through uneconomic options sold to them as the “essential” educational background necessary for success.

Sure, there are exceptions. Some can claim those exceptions personally, but damn few can claim them socially. While you may claim you don’t want to burden your children you still continue to vote for, support and allow government to continue to **** the next door neighbor’s kid to get what you claim you deserve.

And don’t tell me it matters if you’re Democrat, Republican, Libertarian or otherwise. It does not. The fact of the matter is that no government can exist without the consent of the governed and no government can issue debt successfully if the people refuse to labor and thus provide something that creditors can rely on for repayment.

By going on strike en-masse we have the ability to stop all of this stupidity, from top to bottom. But we won’t do it because we are afraid. And in response to that fear, instead of standing up to what we’ve done and accepting that we must take risk in order to right what the wrongs we committed we instead choose to financially ****** and enslave those young adults we brought into this world, as if we bred them to be our slaves from the outset.

If you’re wondering why I believe we deserve to be eaten – or our youth simply shut down and refuse to make their best effort – read the above paragraph as many times as you need to until it sinks in.

‘Nuff said.”

– http://market-ticker.org/

Source: http://coyoteprime-runningcauseicantfly.blogspot.com/2013/09/how-much-time-is-left.html

Mark Stopa’s “The Erosion of the Judiciary”

Foreclosure Court: The Erosion of the Judiciary                                                                                                   http://www.stayinmyhome.com/foreclosure-court-the-erosion-of-the-judiciary/

Posted on September 2nd, 2013 by Mark Stopa 

I’m a big believer in the justice system.  In fact, that’s part of why I became a lawyer.  I believe in every litigant’s right to obtain a fair hearing and trial before a neutral judge and/or impartial jury.  It sounds cliché, but that’s what I do – help people navigate the judicial system in their time of need. 

In recent months, though, the judiciary in many parts of Florida (not all, but many) has turned into something I don’t recognize.  The change has been so sudden and so extreme that it’s altering the face of the judiciary and hindering that which I hold so dear – the right to fair hearings and due process.  Yes, what I consider the “core” of a fully-functioning judicial system is eroding. 

If you’re a Florida lawyer but you don’t handle foreclosure cases, you likely have no idea what I’m talking about.  After all, outside of foreclosure-world, Florida’s courts are operating like normal, business as usual.  Sure, the down economy has brought some minor changes, but all in all, our courts are functioning in a normal way. 

Foreclosure cases, though, are a totally different animal. 

I was chatting with a colleague the other day, an attorney who doesn’t handle foreclosure lawsuits, and he was shocked as I described the things I see in foreclosure court on a daily basis.  This is a seasoned attorney who was SHOCKED at what I see every day.  That made me realize … I’m not doing a good enough job of explaining the travesties I see every day in foreclosure-world. 

It’s a tough line to toe, frankly.  Bar rules prohibit me from disparaging any particular judge, so it’s sometimes difficult to explain what’s happening in foreclosure court without crossing that line.  In this blog, though, I’m going to toe that line.  Don’t misunderstand – I’m not criticizing anyone in particular.  Rather, my critique – and that’s what I see this as, a constructive critique, coupled with a hope that everyone will realize just how flawed our system has become – is aimed at the entire institution.  My concerns aren’t with any particular judge or any one ruling – they lie with the entire judicial system, the way the entire judiciary is operating right now, at least as it pertains to foreclosure cases. 

I know what you’re thinking.  I’m just a self-interested, foreclosure defense attorney who’s trying to delay foreclosures and let people live for free.  I’m upset because the courts are making that more difficult.  Right?

Before you blow off my concerns in that manner, you tell me.  Are my concerns legitimate?  Is this how a judicial system should operate?  You tell me … 

As a foreclosure defense lawyer, I’ve seen pro se homeowners attend hearings in their cases and not be allowed to speak.  Not one word.  It wasn’t that the judge didn’t hear the homeowner or didn’t realize he/she was present, either – the homeowner asked the judge to speak at a duly-noticed hearing and was not permitted to do so.  Homeowner loses, yet couldn’t say one word.  Isolated incident, you say?  I’ve personally seen it more than once. 

Not being permitted to speak has not been limited to pro se homeowners.  I have personally been threatened with criminal contempt – criminal contempt – for moving to disqualify a judge after striking my defenses without letting me say one word about those defenses.  Your defenses are stricken, you can’t talk, and if you complain about it, I’ll throw you in jail. 

In many parts of Florida, attorneys are not permitted to attend foreclosure hearings by phone – regardless of how insignificant or short the hearing may be.  Never mind that the Florida Supreme Court created a rule of judicial administration which requires phone appearances be permitted for hearings that are 15 minutes or less absent “good cause” – in many parts of Florida, attendance by phone is simply not permitted. 

I’ve heard some justify this procedure by explaining how it’s difficult to deal with phone appearances in foreclosure cases.  Really?  How is it any more difficult than in other types of cases?  Frankly, I can’t help but wonder if the prohibition on phone appearances is designed to make it harder for defense lawyers to appear in cases for homeowners, enabling the courts to push through those cases faster.  (Prohibiting phone appearances obviously makes it harder and more expensive to attend hearings, often making the difference in a homeowner’s ability to afford counsel.) 

That’s an absurd proposition, though, right?  Why would our courts care how quickly foreclosure lawsuits are litigated?  Judges are neutral arbiters – they don’t care how quickly the cases are adjudicated.  Do they? 

The answer to that question is at the heart of the problem.  In recent months, the Florida legislature has been putting immense pressure on Florida judges to clear the backlog of foreclosure lawsuits.  How much pressure?  Well, the legislature controls the amount of funding that goes to our courts – funding that is needed to retain new judges, senior judges, court staff, and clerks (basically, the funding necessary to keep all judges and JAs from being totally overwhelmed).  Unfortunately, the legislature has been giving these judges an ultimatum, kind of like parents do to their children regarding allowance.  Basically, it works like this … “if you don’t finish these foreclosure cases, we won’t give you more funding.”  As such, the legislature holds the judiciary hostage … if the judiciary doesn’t clear cases, then the legislature doesn’t give the judiciary the funding necessary to manage the many thousands of foreclosure lawsuits pending before it. 

Perhaps worse yet, and to my sheer disgust, I’m told the legislature recently cut the pay of Florida judges (for the first time in years), and the clear understanding was that it was done as a way to punish/blame the judges for not clearing up the backlog of foreclosure cases faster.  “You won’t enter judgments fast enough for our liking … we’ll cut your pay.” 

(The pay of Florida judges is public record, right?  Why is nobody talking about this?) 

The judicial system shouldn’t operate this way.  We all learned it in elementary school, how the three branches of government exist as “separate but equal” branches of government, employing a system of “checks and balances” to ensure a fully-functioning government.  But that’s not what’s happening right now, certainly not in foreclosure court.  In foreclosure-world, the legislature is king. 

You might think this is conjecture and speculation on my part.  It’s not.  I can’t go a week without hearing how the legislature is forcing judges to move cases.  Judges discuss it openly in open court, and not just to me – to everyone.  As a result of this dynamic – judges wanting to move cases – I see all sorts of crazy things I’d never see in any other area of law. 

I’ve mentioned the homeowners who can’t speak, the threats of incarcertaion, and the prohibition on phone appearances, but let’s get to some more egregious concerns. 

Judges sua sponte set trials in foreclosure cases (without a Notice of Trial having been filed, without a CMC or pretrial conference, and without discussing/clearing the date with an counsel).  This is now routine, virtually everywhere in the state. 

Judges sua sponte set trials in foreclosure cases where a motion to dismiss is outstanding and the defendant has not filed an answer. 

Judges sua sponte set trials with less than 30 days’ notice (such that, as defense counsel, you randomly receive a trial Order in the mail, reflecting you have a trial in 2 weeks).

 The sua sponte setting of trials dominates the landscape of foreclosure-world.  Banks often don’t want trials in foreclosure cases, but the judges will set them anyway.  Then, even when the plaintiffs are vocal about not wanting a trial in that particular case, judges often insist they go forward anyway.  Even stipulated/agreed Orders to continue a trial or vacate a trial Order often go unsigned. 

Sometimes, where trial has been set in violation of Rule 1.440, judges will recognize the error and fix it.  (The judges in Pinellas and Hillsborough in particular are good about this, striving to follow the law.)  In many others cases, though, judges will proceed with trial anyway.  In foreclosure circles, one county has become known for using a stamp – DENIED – right on the motion to vacate trial Order, without a hearing.  Case not at issue?  Doesn’t matter.  Less than 30 days’ notice?  Doesn’t matter.  Bank doesn’t want a trial?  Doesn’t matter.  We’re going to trial! 

Often, judges won’t proceed with trial where the defendant hasn’t filed an Answer but will essentially force the Answer to be filed forthwith.  How is this accomplished?  Easily – either deny the motion to dismiss (often without a hearing), or sua sponte set a CMC to ensure the case gets at issue.   Some courts use CMCs as a way to, in my view, browbeat parties into settling.  One county, for example, has started setting three CMCs at once – one per week for three consecutive weeks, requiring in-person attendance, at mass-motion calendars that last an hour or more, with no input from counsel on when the CMCs are scheduled.  You’re not available?  Too bad.  You don’t need a CMC three weeks in a row?  Yes, you do.  Your case will get at issue and it will be set for trial. 

Oh, and if you want to set a hearing in this county, you have to mail in a form – MAIL IN A FORM – and wait for them to respond to you, by mail, with a form that gives you a set hearing date, without any input from you on when that hearing takes place. 

What dominates the thinking from the judiciary – again, not my speculation, but something the judges openly discuss – is their desire to “close” cases.  That’s the monster that the legislature has created – evaluating the performance of judges not based on their work as judges but based on the results set forth in an Excel spreadsheet.  How many foreclosure lawsuits were filed in that county?  How many judgments have been entered?  If the ratio of judgments entered to cases filed is high enough, then the judges in that county are doing a good job and deserve more funding from the legislature.  If not, then those judges and JAs can all suffer through the many thousands of cases without more help. 

The dynamic is so perverse that I’ve seen judges refuse to cancel foreclosure sales even when both sides ask them to. 

Plaintiff’s lawyer:  “We don’t want this foreclosure sale to go forward, judge.” 

Defendant’s lawyer:  “We are living in this house.  We don’t want this foreclosure sale to go forward, judge.” 

Judge:  “Foreclosure sale will go forward as scheduled.” 

Huh? 

This dynamic is particularly difficult to take when the parties have reached a settlement.  For example, loan modifications sometimes happen after a judgment but before a sale.  That means, essentially, that both sides are willing to forego foreclosure with the homeowner resuming monthly mortgage payments.  Incredibly, based partly on their desire to “close” a case, some judges will force a foreclosure sale to go forward even when both parties don’t want it to, having settled their dispute via a loan modification.

 Plaintiff’s lawyer:  “We have agreed to a loan modification.  We want the foreclosure sale cancelled.” 

Defendant’s lawyer:  “We have agreed to a loan modification.  We want the foreclosure sale cancelled.” 

Judge:  “Foreclosure sale will go forward as scheduled.” 

Huh? 

Even when both sides are able to resolve disputes before trial, even then they sometimes can’t escape a dress-down from the judiciary.  For instance, I’ve watched judges threaten Bar grievances against lawyers – yes, Bar grievances – where they settled the lawsuit by consenting to a foreclosure judgment with a deficiency waiver and extended sale date.  Mind you, that’s a perfectly legitimate way to compromise and settle a foreclosure lawsuit – bank gets the house, homeowner avoids any further liability and gets to stay in the house longer so as to pack up and move – but the prospect of the sale date getting pushed out 4-5 months angers some judges.  “No, you can’t settle that way.  The sale has to happen sooner.”  Yes, I’ve seen settlements like this rejected with the sale set sooner than the parties agreed.

Huh? 

There’s absolutely no rule or law that requires a sale to happen sooner where the parties agree.  Unfortunately, the judges are motivated by having that case “closed” so the numbers on the spreadsheet look better for the legislature. 

My natural response is to lament the unfairness of it all.  After all, that homeowner gave up the chances of winning at trial predicated on getting more time in the house.  I find it terribly unfair that the homeowner gave up a right to trial in exchange for an extended sale date that the judge took away … right?  Some judges would scoff at that notion.  After all, I’ve heard several times, in open court, ”there is no defense to foreclosure,” or “I’ve never seen a valid defense to foreclosure,” or words of that ilk.  Never mind that I’ve had many dozens of foreclosure cases dismissed throughout Florida, including several at trial (25 different judges have dismissed a lawsuit of mine on paragraph 22 noncompliance, for example) … there is no valid defense to foreclosure and, hence, no reason for an extended sale date. 

Another county has become known for punishing any defendants who force a trial to proceed.  I personally observed the judge begin every hearing by telling the homeowners and their counsel that they “better” accept a 120-day extended sale date, as if that “offer” was rejected then it would be “off the table” after the trial.  The implication here was obvious to everyone in the room … You want to show up and force the bank to prove its case?  You’ll lose, and I’ll punish you by ruling against you and forcing you to move out sooner. 

Some would say that the way to deal with this madness is to appeal.  Easier said than done.  Homeowners facing foreclosure are often in no position to fund an appeal.  I’ve taken some appeals for free, but there’s only so many I can handle that way.  Oh, and even if you get beyond the issue of funding, go look for published decisions that are pro-homeowner in the First DCA, Third DCA, or Fifth DCA.  Many thousands of foreclosure cases have been adjudicated in those areas in the past several years.  How many favorable rulings do you think have come out of those jurisdictions during that time?  I’ll give you a hint – not many.  In many ways, appealing in those parts of the state is like standing at the bottom of Mount Everest and being told “climb.” 

Dealing with this dynamic has been very difficult in recent months.  It’s a hard pill to swallow.  It’s difficult to watch the judicial system bend at the direction of the legislature.  It’s tough to know the concept of “separation of powers” that we all learned in elementary school is being cast aside.  It’s hard to feel like the most fundamental concepts of due process are being sacrificed to push lawsuits faster when even the plaintiffs in those lawsuits don’t so desire.  It’s hard to feel like these procedures have made it impossible for me to help homeowners in certain parts of the state.  It’s frustrating that many reading this will be upset at the entire judiciary, not realizing there are many circuit judges – particularly in Hillsborough, Pinellas, and other areas within the ambit of Florida’s Second District – who are striving to be fair and follow the law notwithstanding all of the pressure from the legislature. 

Mostly, though, I’m disappointed.  I’m disappointed that such perverse procedures are happening in our courts every day yet nobody is talking about it – and many don’t even realize it’s happening.  I’m disappointed that the justice system I knew is eroding.  I’m not going to find a dictionary definition, but that’s what erosion is – a slow process of deterioration such that, before too long, that thing which previously existed is no more. 

I hope everyone shares this blog.  I hope my friends, colleagues, attorneys and homeowners all understand what’s happening in our courts.  I hope everyone stands up to the legislature and demands it stop this madness.  Most of all, I hope the erosion of our judiciary stops … soon.

Another Great Article From Living Lies, Telling It Like It Is!

LAST CHANCE FOR JUSTICE

Posted on August 19, 2013 by Neil Garfield

“We are still in the death grip of the banks as they attempt to portray themselves as the bulwarks of society even as they continue to rob us of homes, lives, jobs and vitally needed capital which is being channeled into natural resources so that when we commence the gargantuan task of repairing our infrastructure we can no longer afford it and must borrow the money from the thieves who created the gaping hole in our economy threatening the soul of our democracy.” Neil Garfield, livinglies.me

We all know that dozens of people rose to power in Europe and Asia in the 1930′s and 1940′s who turned the world on its head and were responsible for the extermination of tens of millions of people. World War II still haunts us as it projected us into an arms race in which we were the first and only country to kill all the people who lived in two cities in Japan. The losses on both sides of the war were horrendous.
Some of us remember the revelations in 1982 that the United States actively recruited unrepentant Nazi officers and scientists for intelligence and technological advantages in the coming showdown with what was known as the Soviet Union. Amongst the things done for the worst war criminals was safe passage (no prosecution for war crimes) and even new identities created by the United States Department of Justice. Policy was created that diverted richly deserved consequences into rich rewards for knowledge. With WWII in the rear view mirror policy-makers decided to look ahead and prepare for new challenges.

Some of us remember the savings and loans scandals where banks nearly destroyed everything in the U.S. marketplace in the 1970′s and 1980′s. Law enforcement went into high gear, investigated, and pieced together the methods and complex transactions meant to hide the guilt of the main perpetrators in and out of government and the business world. More than 800 people went to jail. Of course, none of the banks had achieved the size that now exists in our financial marketplace.

Increasing the mass of individual financial institutions produced a corresponding capacity for destruction that eclipsed anything imagined by anyone outside of Wall Street. The exponentially increasing threat was ignored as the knowledge of Einstein’s famous equation faded into obscurity. The possibilities for mass destruction of our societies was increasing exponentially as the mass of giant financial service companies grew and the accountability dropped off when they were allowed to incorporate and even sell their shares publicly, replacing a system, hundreds of years old in which partners were ultimately liable for losses they created.

The next generation of world dominators would be able to bring the world to its knees without firing a shot or gassing anyone. Institutions grew as malignancies on steroids and created the illusion of contributing half our gross domestic product while real work, real production and real inventions were constrained to function in a marketplace that had been reduced by 1/3 of its capacity — leaving the banks in control of  $7 trillion per year in what was counted as gross domestic product. Our primary output by far was trading paper based upon dubious and fictitious underlying transactions; if those transactions had existed, the share of GDP attributed to financial services would have remained at a constant 16%. Instead it grew to half of GDP.  The “paradox” of financial services becoming increasingly powerful and generating more revenues than any other sector while the rest of the economy was stagnating was noted by many, but nothing was done. The truth of this “paradox” is that it was a lie — a grand illusion created by the greatest salesmen on Wall Street.

So even minimum wage lost 1/3 of its value adjusted for inflation while salaries, profits and bonuses were conferred upon people deemed as financial geniuses as a natural consequence of believing the myths promulgated by Wall Street with its control over all forms of information, including information from the government.

But calling out Wall Street would mean admitting that the United States had made a wrong turn with horrendous results. No longer the supreme leader in education, medical care, crime, safety, happiness and most of all prospects for social and economic mobility, the United States had become supreme only through its military strength and the appearance of strength in the world of high finance, its currency being the world’s reserve despite the reality of the ailing economy and widening inequality of wealth and opportunity — the attributes of a banana republic.

All of us remember the great crash of 2008-2009. It was as close as could be imagined to a world wide nuclear attack, resulting in the apparent collapse of economies, tens of millions of people being reduced to poverty, tossed out of their homes, sleeping in cars, divorces, murder, riots, suicide and the loss of millions of jobs on a rising scale (over 700,000 per month when Obama took office) that did not stop rising until 2010 and which has yet to be corrected to figures that economists say would mean that our economy is functioning at proper levels. Month after month more than 700,000 people lost their jobs instead of a net gain of 300,000 jobs. It was a reversal of 1 million jobs per month that could clean out the country and every myth about us in less than a year.

The cause lay with misbehavior of the banks — again. This time the destruction was so wide and so deep that all conditions necessary for the collapse of our society and our government were present. Policy makers, law enforcement and regulators decided that it was better to maintain the illusion of business as usual in a last ditch effort to maintain the fabric of our society even if it meant that guilty people would go free and even be rewarded. It was a decision that was probably correct at the time given the available information, but it was a policy based upon an inaccurate description of the disaster written and produced by the banks themselves. Once the true information was discovered the government made another wrong turn — staying the course when the threat of collapse was over. In a sense it was worse than giving Nazi war criminals asylum because at the time they were protected by the Department of Justice their crimes were complete and there existed little opportunity for them to repeat those crimes. It could be fairly stated that they posed no existing threat to safety of the country. Not so for the banks.

Now as all the theft, deceit and arrogance are revealed, the original premise of the DOJ in granting the immunity from prosecution was based upon fraudulent information from the very people to whom they were granting safe passage. We have lost 5 million homes in foreclosure from their past crimes, but we remain in the midst of the commission of crimes — another 5 million illegal, wrongful foreclosures is continuing to wind its way through the courts.

Not one person has been prosecuted, not one statement has been made acknowledging the crimes, the continuing deceit in sworn filings with regulators, and the continuing drain on the economy and our ability to finance and capitalize on innovation to replace the lost productivity in real goods and services.

We are still in the death grip of the banks as they attempt to portray themselves as the bulwarks of society even as they continue to rob us of homes, lives, jobs and vitally needed capital which is being channeled into natural resources so that when we commence the gargantuan task of repairing our infrastructure we can no longer afford it and must borrow the money from the thieves who created the gaping hole in our economy threatening the soul of our democracy. If the crimes were in the rear view mirror one could argue that the policy makers could make decisions to protect our future. But the crimes are not just in the rear view mirror. More crimes lie ahead with the theft of an equal number of millions of homes based on false and wrongful foreclosures deriving their legitimacy from an illusion of debt — an illusion so artfully created that most people still believe the debts exist. Without a very sophisticated knowledge of exotic finance it seems inconceivable that a homeowner could receive the benefits of a loan and at the same time or shortly thereafter have the debt extinguished by third parties who were paid richly for doing so.

Job creation would be unleashed if we had the courage to stop the continuing fraud. It is time for the government to step forward and call them out, stop the virtual genocide and let the chips fall where they might when the paper giants collapse. It’s complicated, but that is your job. Few people lack the understanding that the bankers behind this mess belong in jail. This includes regulators, law enforcement and even judges. but the “secret” tacit message is not to mess with the status quo until we are sure it won’t topple our whole society and economy.

The time is now. If we leave the bankers alone they are highly likely to cause another crash in both financial instruments and economically by hoarding natural resources until the prices are intolerably high and we all end up pleading for payment terms on basic raw materials for the rebuilding of infrastructure. If we leave them alone another 20 million people will be displaced as more than 5 million foreclosures get processed in the next 3-4 years. If we leave them alone, we are allowing a clear and present danger to the future of our society and the prospects for safety and world peace. Don’t blame Wall Street — they are just doing what they were sent to do — make money. You don’t hold the soldier responsible for firing a bullet when he was ordered to do so. But you do blame the policy makers that him or her there. And you stop them when the policy is threatening another crash.

Stop them now, jail the ones who can be prosecuted, and take apart the large banks. IMF economists and central bankers around the world are looking on in horror at the new order of things hoping that when the United States has exhausted all other options, they will finally do the right thing. (see Winston Churchill quote to that effect).

But forget not that the ultimate power of government is in the hands of the people at large and that the regulators and law enforcement and judges are working for us, on our nickle. Action like Occupy Wall Street is required and you can see the growing nature of that movement in a sweep that is entirely missed by those who arrogantly pull the levers of power now. OWS despite criticism is proving the point — it isn’t new leaders that will get us out of this — it is the withdrawal of consent of the governed one by one without political affiliation or worshiping sound sound biting, hate mongering politicians.

People have asked me why I have not until now endorsed the OWS movement. The reason was that I wanted to give them time to see if they could actually accomplish the counter-intuitive result of exercising power without direct involvement in a corrupt political process. They have proven the point and they are likely to be a major force undermining the demagogues and greedy bankers and businesses who care more about their bottom line than their society that gives them the opportunity to earn that bottom line.

New Fraud Evidence Shows Trillions Of Dollars In Mortgages Have No Owner
http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2013/08/13/2460891/new-fraud-evidence-shows-trillions-of-dollars-in-mortgages-have-no-owner/

Land Records, Foreclosures, tax evasion

It is no secret that the foreclosure hell sweeping the country has resulted in a nightmare from hell. 

The land records of the past 300 years is in peril, as is your right to know who owns your Note, and who you are obligated to make your payments to.

There is an important Petition to sign to help your county keep the records in order.  It is one of the only safeguards that you, as a borrower have against the banksters.

Click the link, there are 100,000 signatures needed!

http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/mandated-national-land-record-audit.html

Lenders, Banksters, Courts, and all you other liars and thieves…

¤

COMES NOW… proceeding in Propria Persona, and respectfully files Plaintiff’s Opposition to Defendant Federal National Mortgage Association’s Motion to Dismiss, and shows this Honorable Court the following pertinent facts:

Federal National Mortgage Association (“Fannie Mae”) has filed their Motion to Dismiss, pursuant to O.C.G.A.§ 9-11-12(b), and on the claims that Plaintiff is a borrower who defaulted in repayment of his mortgage loan, resulting in the foreclosing on the real property which served as collateral for the loan. Plaintiff contends that had the banking and mortgage industry not been so greedy, they would not have over inflated the values through falsified appraisals on properties; they would not have been telling Borrowers not to worry, they can work out an affordable loan that will get you into that house you always dreamed of, while knowing in the back of their minds, that when the Borrower claims that they believed and relied upon their lenders, and what they had been told; the response would then be that the relationship had been nothing more than creditor – debtor and that you should not have relied upon the lies you had been told, because you are at different ends of the spectrum, with totally different interests. My Grandmother would say that America has gone to hell in a handbag.

We have headed into an era where the foreclosing entities are allowed to forge and falsify documents, because the borrower defaulted on their payments, and they need those documents that they are forging and falsifying in order to foreclose upon that Borrower, and the original documents no longer exist. Plaintiff was of the belief, that if you signed a contract, that the Original contract had to be kept in order for it to be collected upon, simple contract law. As it is in these foreclosure/wrongful foreclosure cases, the only time the documents are referred to contracts, is when the documents are referred to as in the Borrower failed to honor the contract by timely making their payments every month. Any other time, the words contract, does not exist. Should a Borrower mention the word, or words Note or Promissory Note, it is sacrilege and the Borrower is “claiming the show me the note theory”, or “vapor money theory”, which is a cue to the Court to dismiss because Georgia does not have a law that the foreclosing entity has to show you the Note. And then, there are the entities that think that they can talk to, and treat the pro se litigants any way they please.

No one would be in this mess, if Fannie Mae, US Bank,Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Aurora, Litton, Taylor Bean and Whitaker, Cenlar, GMAC, Wachovia, Popular, Countrywide, MERS, and a whole slew of other entities had not gotten greedy, eased the underwriting, slacked off on checking tax forms and employment, and had not lied that the borrowers could afford it, this loan will allow you to buy the home you always wanted.

L. Randall Wray: The $7 Trillion Question That Haunts Banks

 

L. Randall Wray

Professor of Economics and Research Director of the Center for Full Employment and Price Stability, University of Missouri–Kansas City

 

The $7 Trillion Question That Haunts Banks

Posted: 03/16/2012 4:09 pm

I’ve been writing about the MERS monster since 2010. Here is one of my early pieces.

I suppose it is now safe to reveal that a staffer of Representative Marcy Kaptur put me on the trail of this fraud — in dollar terms it has to be the single biggest fraud in human history. In sheer utter disregard for law, it is certainly the most audacious fraud in Western history. To tell the truth, I had never heard of MERS until she called. If you recall the Michael Moore movie, Rep. Kaptur stood on the steps and told homeowners facing foreclosure to stay in their homes. She was right: the banksters have no legal claim on the homes they are foreclosing. Foreclosure is theft. Any bank that used MERS has no legal claim on property — there are 65 million such mortgages to which no bank has a legal claim to foreclose.

And, to be sure, even those mortgages that were not run through MERS are suspect if they are handled by any of the five biggest servicers. These servicers keep such shoddy records that they cannot be trusted to accurately credit payments. They’ve been adding on fees and penalties that were unwarranted since they cannot keep track of records.

Folks, there are $7 trillion of securitized mortgages. It was (mostly) the securitization process that demanded fraud. Securitization could never have been profitable — it was a flawed way to go about financing homeownership. It was simply too expensive to compete with Jimmy Stewart thrifts. It required fraud to show profits. (As Bill Black always says: fraud is a sure thing. It is always the most profitable way to run a business — until you get caught.)

In addition to the MERS monster, we also know the securities did not meet the “reps and warranties” claimed. The banks that did the securizations will continue to get sued to take back bad mortgages. They are trying to shovel as many of these back to Fannie and Freddie as they can so that Uncle Sam will take the losses — as discussed in my previous blog they are now doing it through sale of servicing rights.

And of course Uncle Ben has helpfully put a lot of them on the Fed’s balance sheet. This is all part of the cover-up to avoid the obvious: all these big banks are massively insolvent as soon as the courts wake up to the fact that the whole damned real estate finance onion is layer upon layer of fraud.

But let us stick to the MERS fraud.

There should be an immediate and complete halt to all foreclosures in the US, and all foreclosures that have been completed over the past decade should be nullified. Yes that will get messy. But continuing with foreclosures will make the mess immeasurably worse. This foreclosure crisis is not going to stop.

No one should buy any bank-owned real estate because it is probable that eventually the US will return to the rule of law. The property will be returned to the rightful owners — those who were illegally kicked out of their houses.

Now that might be a pipe dream, but if the US is not going to be a nation ruled by law then it will not survive.

The biggest banks — including the GSEs — created MERS and proceeded to destroy our nation’s real estate property law. That is not an overstatement. Robo-signing is just one small and inevitable consequence of the fraud. The truth is that foreclosure cannot go through without fraud because the banks do not have the documents to show clear title.

Banks don’t have them because they do not exist.

There are no records because that was MERS’s business model: destroy all records of ownership while speeding the securitization process.

And since the mortgages themselves were often frauds (designing “affordability products” that homeowners could not afford), many would end in delinquency. So MERS was designed to speed the foreclosure process — it would be so much easier to foreclose if you didn’t bother with documents, records, and property law. Just kick the owners out, take the home, sell it, and reboot the whole scam again.

Another whistleblower has come forward, this one from CBO. Lan Pham was fired because she refused to get with the program: the government is supposed to help the banksters cover up their frauds, NOT expose them! She refused. So she was fired. Now she tells her story.

I won’t repeat her entire story — you can read it at Zerohedge. Here are a few quotes from Lan Pham, the CBO whistle-blower:

I was repeatedly pressured by the CBO Assistant Director, Deborah Lucas… to not write nor discuss issues in the banking sector and mortgage markets that might suggest weakness in these sectors and their consequences on the economy and households…

…Issues at the heart of the foreclosure problems pertain to securitization….and the Mortgage Electronic Registration System (MERS), which purports to have legal standing on electronic records of ownership on about 65 million…mortgages… MERS…facilitated Wall Street’s ability to expedite the pooling of subprime mortgages into MBSs by bypassing standard ownership transfer procedures as the housing bubble escalated…

The implications have profound financial and economic consequences that would be of compelling interest to Congress and the public, but the CBO sought to silence a discussion of such risks, that in reality have been materializing. These risks put into question the ability of investors or bondholders to make claims on the collateral (the homes) that underlies trillions of dollars in MBSs, the bulk of which are now guaranteed by …Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. This affects $10 trillion in residential mortgage debt outstanding, of which $7 trillion in mortgage-backed securities (MBSs)…

The CBO dismissing such issues prevents an analysis of the risks, so that the public may be forced again to shoulder the consequences for which they have not been a given a voice or a choice.

Essentially, the chain of title on securitized mortgages appears broken, whether or not there is a foreclosure. This would pertain to most homebuyers in the past 10 years as most mortgages were securitized by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac providing the guarantees, and the largest banks (“The $7 Trillion MBS Problem – Foreclosure Problems and Buybacks”). Recall that these same entities founded MERS, which expedited securitization and purported to have foreclosure authority from its electronic records of ownership on about 65 million mortgages. “Robo-signing” emerged as fraudulent or defective documents were used or created to establish the legal authority to foreclose as MERS faced legal challenges; as of July 22, 2011, foreclosures could no longer be initiated in MERS’ name. At last year’s pace, some figures suggest it could take lenders in New York 62 years to clear their foreclosure inventory, 49 years in New Jersey and a decade in Florida, Massachusetts, and Illinois.

It is unclear how the recent State attorney generals’ agreement to a proposed yet unpublished terms of the $25 billion robo-signing settlement would repair the chain of title issues that continue to mutate. In January 2011, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court reversed the foreclosure actions of two banks for lacking proof of clear title, followed by a decision in October 2011 that a buyer who purchased a house that was improperly foreclosed upon does not make the buyer the new owner of the house; the sale does not transfer the property.

A striking little mention fact of the Massachusetts foreclosure case was that the lenders could not show that the two mortgages were part of the securitization pool. Let’s consider a thought exercise. Others have the raised the question: if the entity that has been taking the homeowners’ mortgage payments is not the real owner, what happens when the true owner(s) of the mortgage shows up? Are homeowners on the hook again for those ‘missed’ mortgage payments? It was not uncommon for mortgages to be sold multiple times, and it is my understanding that loans were intentionally not given unique identifiers as it moved from origination or purchase through to securitization.

This is what I’ve been arguing since 2010. This will not go away — no matter how much the Administration, the Congress, and the banks try to cover it up.

Cross-posted from EconoMonitor

L. Randall Wray: The $7 Trillion Question That Haunts Banks

Guilford County, North Carolina Register of Deeds Want The Mess Cleaned Up!

http://newsandinsight.thomsonreuters.com/uploadedFiles/Reuters_Content/2012/03_-_March/guilfordvmers.pdf

STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA IN THE GENERAL COURT OF JUSTICE
SUPERIOR COURT DIVISION

NATURE AND SUMMARY OF THIS ACTION
1. This lawsuit seeks to have Defendants clean up the mess they created in
Guilford County’s public property records and to hold Defendants accountable for their unfair and deceptive trade practices.

COUNTY OF GUILFORD GUILFORD COUNTY, ex rel. JEFF L.
THIGPEN, GUILFORD COUNTY  REGISTER OF DEEDS,
Plaintiff,
v.
LENDER PROCESSING SERVICES, INC.;
DOCX, LLC; LPS DEFAULT SOLUTIONS,
INC.; MERSCORP HOLDINGS, INC.;
MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC
REGISTRATION SYSTEMS, INC.; WELLS
FARGO BANK, N.A.; WELLS FARGO
HOME MORTGAGE, INC.; BANK OF
AMERICA, N.A.; JPMORGAN CHASE
BANK, N.A.; CHASE HOME FINANCE
LLC; EMC MORTGAGE CORPORATION;
MIDFIRST BANK; SAND CANYON
CORPORATION; CITI RESIDENTIAL
LENDING, INC.; GREEN TREE
SERVICING, LLC; AMERIQUEST
MORTGAGE COMPANY; USAA
FEDERAL SAVINGS BANK; AMERICAN
HOME MORTGAGE SERVICING, INC.;
MOREQUITY, INC.; U.S. BANK
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION;
EQUICREDIT CORPORATION OF
AMERICA; NATIONSCREDIT
FINANCIAL SERVICES CORP.; ARGENT
MORTGAGE COMPANY, LLC; THE
BANK OF NEW YORK MELLON; THE
BANK OF NEW YORK MELLON TRUST
COMPANY, N.A.; CAPITAL ONE, N.A.;
FIRST FRANKLIN FINANCIAL CORP.;
NAVY FEDERAL CREDIT UNION; and
WEICHERT FINANCIAL SERVICES;
Defendants.

Mortgage Tornado Warning, Unheeded – NYTimes.com

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/05/business/mortgage-tornado-warning-unheeded.html?_r=2&ref=business

A Mortgage Tornado Warning, Unheeded

Gary Bogdon for The New York Times

After his own experience dealing with a mortgage mess, Nye Lavalle set out to learn all he could about the mortgage industry, traveling nationwide to dig into records. In 2003, he compiled a dossier of practices at Fannie Mae. In hindsight, the problems he found look like a blueprint of today’s foreclosure crisis.

By GRETCHEN MORGENSON
Published: February 4, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now, he hopes dubious mortgage practices will be eradicated.

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

A version of this article appeared in print on February 5, 2012, on page BU1 of the New York edition with the headline: A Tornado Warning, Unheeded.

 

Mortgage Tornado Warning, Unheeded – NYTimes.com

New York sues banks over foreclosures – Feb. 3, 2012

http://money.cnn.com/2012/02/03/news/economy/banks_sued/index.htm?source=cnn_bin

New York sues banks over foreclosures

  • By Jennifer Liberto@CNNMoneyFebruary 3, 2012: 3:15 PM ET

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has sued the big banks over their use of an electronic mortgage registry.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has sued the big banks over their use of a private electronic mortgage registry.

WASHINGTON (CNNMoney) — The New York attorney general sued some of the nation’s biggest banks on Friday, accusing them of unlawful and deceptive practices for relying on a private electronic registry that tracks mortgages.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on Friday sued Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500), Wells Fargo (WFC, Fortune 500), JPMorgan Chase (JPM, Fortune 500), as well as the Mortgage Electronic Registration System Inc. (MERS) in New York state court.

Schneiderman says that the banks created the electronic registry as an “end-run” around the public property recording system to help them more quickly buy and sell parts of mortgages. He said the system helped banks create “deceptive and fraudulent court submissions” and improperly foreclose on homeowners.

“Our action demonstrates that there is one set of rules for all — no matter how big or powerful the institution may be — and that those rules will be enforced vigorously,” said Attorney General Schneiderman in a statement.

Foreclosure settlement could be coming

MERS runs a database created in the 1995 to digitize and centralize the paperwork surrounding the bundling and selling of the loans. MERS members include most of the large banks in the mortgage industry. More than 70 million loans are registered in the MERS system, including 30 million that are active, according to the New York attorney general’s office.

The New York suit alleges that the database was used by the big banks to transfer ownership of mortgage debt without paying government registration fees and properly recording the transactions. The system also concealed the identities of the holders of mortgage debt from borrowers, the suit claims.

“MERS’ conduct, as well as the servicers’ use of the MERS System, has resulted in the filing of improper New York foreclosure proceedings, undermined the integrity of the judicial process, created confusion and uncertainty concerning property ownership interests, and potentially clouded titles on properties throughout the State of New York,” according to a statement by the New York Attorney General.

MERSCORP, parent company for Mortgage Electronic Registration System Inc., said the company refutes the attorney general’s claims, adding that federal and state courts nationwide have already upheld the MERS’ business model, according to a statement.

One Washington research analyst notes that the New York charges are similar to past cases brought against MERS, and that so far, “the industry has won most of those challenges,” said Jaret Seiberg, of Guggenheim’s Washington Research Group “The ones they lost tend to be on narrow issues.

In December the Massachusetts attorney general filed a lawsuit against the same banks, as well as Citigroup (C, Fortune 500) and GMAC Mortgage, alleging similar complaints. That case is still pending.

Schneiderman is also leading a working group of federal and state officials that the president put together to investigate mortgage securities fraud.

At the same time, Schneiderman is also considering whether New York should sign on to a mortgage servicing settlement agreement that federal officials and state attorneys general have been negotiating for a year with the nation’s largest banks that service mortgages. To top of page

New York sues banks over foreclosures – Feb. 3, 2012

Nye Lavalle, We Applaud You for Your Efforts to Expose Robo-Judges Signing Robo-Orders!!!

 

Message for My Friends & Colleagues –From: Nye Lavalle

Sent: Friday, October 28, 2011 3:50 PM
Please Read Entire Email

NOTE: to all blogs!!!

     Please post the email to the AGs, I wrote last week that I did not send you. I wrote them in confidence.       

       However, since they have failed to act and respond I think the way to get to them AND GET RESPONSES AND ACTION is to publicly publish all my warnings and my letters so there is a VERY public record of notices and warnings to them.

    They may wish to ignore me again, but I and hopefully each of YOU, won’t let them! So, please read You may also publish and post, separately, my letter attached to FHFA’s OIG.

Dear friends,

I am taking the gloves off, its that time! Attorney General Beau Biden did us all proud and right yesterday, despite the political reality that he faces in a state that hosts as corporations, the banks, Wall St. firms, and system he is attacking. I would ask that each of you kindly read the entirety of this letter and to assist me help each of you and this nation of ours and force the other AGs and elements of our government and the media to be as bold and brave as Beau Biden!

Beau knows MERS! LOL He certainly not only vindicated me and my decade-old fight against MERS and my predictions, but all of us, especially Max, April, Judges Logan and Gordon (would love to interview each now) and let me not forget our favorite jurist, Judge Schack!

Let us not forget the crooked judges too, like Craig Schwall and Louis Levenson in Fulton Co who will be getting their comeuppance next month in both courts of law and public opinion (the media). We need to have media focus on the Judges who get it and the judges we have evidence of corruption on. (including our tapes) This will be one of our new objectives. We also need to expose Robo-Judges™ who issue Robo-Orders™!

We’re starting a new movement in America. Our new movement will complement the Occupy Wall Street and Occupy the Internet movements by assisting those trying to help or most importantly IGNORING TO HELP our nation and states. That is the media who is trying to help and some in government like Beau Biden. The other AGs and regulators that ignore us will be publicly noticed and later publicly embarrassed if they fail to act, since a “record” of notices, warnings, and actions or inactions will be publicly displayed now and for the years to come that anyone can access. We shall begin with Names!!

The name for these new movements shall be Occupy The Government & Occupy The Media! As for the media, we shall and I request that you respect their time and their space.

The first step is that I want each of you to provide me, Lisa, Michael, Matt and everyone of our colleagues and comrades in arms with an email list of ALL media and government contacts you have in two separate email address books for Outlook or AOL. We will then discuss content to send by each of us to these contacts. For the media, we will target great story ideas for each journalist and editor we have befriended and has supported the cause. We will also provide a host of information, facts, and evidence for their investigative needs. The media is not only our friend, but our greatest ally in this movement, next to the Internet!

For government, we will create letters and petitions and forward to them in masse! Also, we will document and forward complaints, and evidence of fraudulent bank behavior. They are either with us, or against us! They get to choose and so do we, by a vote. It’s time to stop picking leaders by social issues, but real life issues. You’re either a bank bitch and for them or you’re not (like Beau).

I want to do to the AGs, all regulators, and politicians, what I did to CEOs and boards years ago, paper them and “put them on notice” to act. Let’s see if they ignore our warnings this time around since doing so, will surely jeopardize their political and/or professional aspirations. As they move up the political food chain, we will have a record of what they were warned of and what they did or didn’t do so that their prior actions can be judged by voters and regulators alike.

I am reminded of Gandhi’s quote “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” We’re now winning, so it’s time to pile in on as the bankster’s lawyers would say. Over the years, I have created a “hit list” and “target list” of enemies and foes and have guarded carefully very personal information about them. While information is power, knowledge of what to do with that information, and the wisdom to know when its right to use, is key. I suggest you each do the same!

Next, I will begin writing more letters and more warnings based on my experience and I will start doing some polling with the help of supporters and sponsors I will seek from law firms. This will accomplish a few goals. First, it will bring national media attention and coverage to the issues and second, media attention, business and leads to the law firms than sponsor my research. My research has traditionally garnered national media attention and the front pages of virtually every newspaper as well as television and radio. It will once more, do so again.

As for Beau Biden, his complaint is a masterpiece and must read and pins the tail on the ASS (sorry, Donkey was way too kind) so to speak in MERS. In effect, he is not only seeking to shut down every MERS foreclosure in DE, but seeking to foreclose on MERS itself! I wonder what ASSet protection MERSCORP and its enablers have in place.

I have previously called the racketeering acts of the servicers the “default servicing enterprise.” However, Beau kept it simple and called it the “foreclosure enterprise.” I agree. From this day forward, when we discuss or refer to this racketeering enterprise, let’s all agree to call it and refer to it as the FORECLOSURE ENTERPRISE! Let’s get that mantra up and explain it for what it is, an enterprise which is key for RICO actions, both state and federal, which is where we will be going next with the evidence we have all uncovered. Make Foreclosure enterprise as widely known and accepted as robo-signing and fraudclosure!

In his complaint and his exhibits, Beau Biden has laid the foundation for attacking MERS and every lender. In every case where MERS is ANYWHERE in the chain (current or prior loans) you must file his complaint and exhibits with the court with a notice for the Court to take “judicial notice” of the complaint. Next, you must also file all of the county recorder lawsuits. Remember, building a record is the most important thing you can do in a case. This is how we will also expose the corrupt judges we have evidence on. An analysis of their record and rulings will assist media and also how we vote them out. We shall approve and disprove of judges and politicians and make our voices known, regardless of party affiliation. We will make them sign pledges and contracts, so we know where stand.

We will get our friends in person, email, and on Facebook, to work with us, petition, send emails, make phone calls and focus attention on issues and those who fight and oppose us. We will gather lists of names too and personal and email addresses for protesters.

Our first petition will be the abolishment of MERS and I am drafting Lisa Epstein to create the first draft using the relief that Beau seeks in his lawsuit to be the first petition of our group. Lisa, please copy me, Jacqs, April, Dan, and Max on it and we’ll get out soon!

Friends, its time! 2012, the Mayans predicted would be the end of the world “as we know it!” I’m reminded of the song “its the end of the world as we know it, its the end of the world as we know it. If we believe and act, we can do it! I know we can and i know we will!

It’s time my friends, time to get immediate attention and use the legal strategy the the banks and foreclosure mills created called “piling on” after football piling on. Let’s get to the media, get to the government, get to judges, and get to the people. Let’s Occupy Government and The Media and take control of the destiny God has given each of us! 2012 is upon us. The Mayans were right, its the end of the world as we know it, and the start of a new world, not new world order, as we desire and want it to be free of banks, political influence, and corruption!

Nye