CNBC’s Diana Olick reports that the investigation into the biggest financial fraud in recent history is about to be shelved: the reason, state AGs are nearing a settlement with banks, which will slap a few wrists, will see banks put some lunch money in a settlement fund, will result in some principal reductions, and everything will be well again, as banker bonuses surpass 2009 levels (as noted previously). Retroactively in perpetuity. In other news, state sponsored fraud in America is alive and well.
Update: don’t spend that bonus money on the January edition Perfect 10s just yet. In what seems to be a day of relentless newsflow, we have just learned via Charlie Gasparino and Fox Biz, that Phil Angelides is launching his own probe into the mortgage market. Then again, all this means is that BofA will need to spend a few million extra dollars to bribe the key people in this latest development, and then everything shall be well again.
Add Phil Angelides to the growing list of regulators investigating whether banks committed fraud in the $6.4 trillion mortgage-bond market, the FOX Business Network has learned.
The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, which Angelides chairs, has begun investigating whether mortgages packaged into bonds and now held by investors including government agencies like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were done so improperly, thus calling into question the legality of trillions of dollars of debt, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter.
The inner workings of the mortgage-backed securities market have come under intense scrutiny in recent months following revelations that big banks may have committed fraud by hiring so-called robo-signers to approve foreclosure applications on tens of thousands of mortgages. At issue: Whether the robo-signers properly approved foreclosures and whether people forced from their homes received due process.
The latest twist in the robo-signer controversy involves whether improper foreclosures and banks failing to follow proper legal procedures will call into question the mortgage bonds themselves. Many of the foreclosed mortgages aren’t held by banks, but have been placed in bonds held by investors. The money thus is returned to an investor holding the bond.
But if the foreclosure has been done by a robo-signer, or if the banks creating the bond did so improperly, as a recent congressional study suggested, then the bonds themselves could be declared illegal. That could pose big problems for the banks that created the mortgages and sold the bonds, like Bank of America (BAC: 11.94 ,-0.16 ,-1.32%) and JPMorgan (JPM: 39.58 ,-0.47 ,-1.17%) because it would allow investors to “put”, or force the banks to buy back, the underlying mortgages.
And here is Diana Olick’s disclosure:
While sources say there is no universal solution to shoddy foreclosure practices at some of the nation’s largest mortgage banks/servicers, the three largest, BofA, JPM and Wells Fargo, may be agreeing to the same solution.
First, banks would pay into a fund used to compensate borrowers who have claims after their home has been sold in foreclosure. The borrowers would have to prove they were wronged in the process, and the attorney’s general would allocate the funds. In other words, the AGs would be the administrators. The amount of said fund is still undetermined, and likely still in negotiation. Each bank could settle on its own amount, or there could be a joint agreement.
Secondly, the banks would do away with the dual track of modifications and foreclosures. That means that only after all options of modification are exhausted can a bank begin foreclosure proceedings. Many borrowers currently complain that they are in the midst of the modification process when they get a notice of foreclosure sale. The drawback to eliminating the dual track is even greater extended timelines to foreclosure for borrowers. As it is, borrowers on average can be in their homes for a year and a half without making mortgage payments before eviction.
Finally, there would be some kind of agreement to third party mediation for review of all the cases in the first part of the agreement where borrowers are seeking compensation from the AG fund.
There has also been talk of principal write down as part of settlements, perhaps with some banks and not others. “It’s been on the table,” says one source.
- BofA CEO: Settling foreclosure probe best solution (reuters.com)
- WRAPUP 3-US lawmakers hit banks, regulators on foreclosures (reuters.com)
- UPDATE 1-Banks, state AGs near foreclosure settlement–CNBC (reuters.com)
- Those Contrite Mortgage Servicers Have Plenty to Be Sorry for (dailyfinance.com)
- FCIC Delays Report Despite Republican Opposition, Citing ‘Very Powerful Interests’ Seeking To Undermine Investigations (huffingtonpost.com)
- Banks Are Nearing A Major Settlement On Foreclosure-Gate (businessinsider.com)
- Robo-Signing Foreclosure Mess: Bank of America Vows to Do Better (dailyfinance.com)
- Under Scrutiny in Foreclosure Mess: Banks’ Servicing Arms (blogs.wsj.com)
- “Banks Getting Hammered Again (BAC; C; JPM; WFC; XLF; FAZ)” and related posts (climateerinvest.blogspot.com)
- Bond Investors to Complain About Robo-Signing Costs (businessweek.com)
- Fortune Defends Banks In Robo-Foreclosure Scandal (huffingtonpost.com)
- Banks, state AGs near foreclosure settlement: report (reuters.com)
- Bank of America Bracing for Layoffs: Report (observer.com)