revmichellehopkins August 20 2013
(Reuters) – The highest court in the state of Washington recently ruled that a company that has foreclosed on millions of mortgages nationwide can be sued for fraud, a decision that could cause a new round of trouble for the nation’s banks.
The ruling is one of the first to allow consumers to seek damages from Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, a company set up by the nation’s major banks, if they can prove they were harmed.
Legal experts said last month’s decision from the Washington Supreme Court could become a precedent for courts in other states. The case also endorsed the view of other state courts that MERS does not have the legal authority to foreclose on a home.
“This is a body blow,” said consumer law attorney Ira Rheingold. “Ultimately the MERS business model cannot work and should not work and needs to be changed.”
Banks set up MERS in the 1990s to help speed the process of packaging loans into mortgage-backed bonds by easing the process of transferring mortgages from one party to another. But ever since the housing crash, MERS has been besieged by litigation from state attorneys general, local government officials and homeowners who have challenged the company’s authority to pursue foreclosure actions.
A spokeswoman for MERS said the company is confident its role in the financial system will withstand legal challenges.
In 2012, when we think Wall Street we think: MF Global theft, JPM criminality, Goldman naked shorting, DTTC failures to deliver, precious metals manipulation, fractional reserve banking, Comex games, HFT trading and endless derivatives. But don’t forget about MERS and mortgage fraud – because according to Vermont Trotter, the National Director of ‘Protect Americas Dream’ it’s all tied together in one giant Ponzi scheme. The worst part is, the bank you pay for your mortgage probably does not even hold the title to your home. It’s a mess – and we are ALL victims.
The State AG’s are supposed to settle the enormous mortgage mess for a mere $25 billion. The alleged fraud has been reported to be in the neighborhood of $13.5 trillion. Will the crooked big banks who perpetrated this scam on America get a free pass in the so-called “robo-signing” mess? There have been multiple lawsuits over the rip-offs, and there are at least a few states that are holding up the settlement for a better deal and the right to proceed with possible criminal investigations. NASDAQ.com is reporting some of the negotiations going on with a story filed yesterday that said, “New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman expressed confidence Friday that his main concern with a pending settlement of alleged foreclosure abuses by U.S. banks would be resolved, but he didn’t commit to participating in an agreement. Schneiderman also said the settlement is being structured so as to not interfere with a separate probe into the packaging of shaky loans into mortgage- backed securities, a practice that preceded the financial crisis.”
MSNBC’s Dylan Ratigan was on the warpath on yesterday’s show. He thinks the big banks could be getting away with the biggest scams in history. He says the Obama Administration is strong-arming states to sign onto a deal, but that has not happened just yet. By the way, I have to give Ratigan a hat tip because it seems he is one of the only members of the MSM doing his job. Check out how he laid out the case. If you only listen for the first 4 minutes or so, you’ll get the picture and just how outrageous this proposed $25 billion settlement really is.
A foreclosure settlement between five major banks guilty of “robo-signing” and the attorneys general of the 50 states is pending for Monday, February 6th; but it is still not clear if all the AGs will sign. California was to get over half of the $25 billion in settlement money, and California AG Kamala Harris has withstood pressure to settle.
That is good. She and the other AGs should not sign until a thorough investigation has been conducted. The evidence to date suggests that “robo-signing” was not a mere technical default or sloppy business practice but was part and parcel of a much larger fraud, the fraud that brought down the whole economy in 2008. It is not just distressed homeowners but the entire economy that has paid the price, resulting in massive unemployment and a shrunken tax base, throwing state and local governments into insolvency and forcing austerity measures and cutbacks in government services across the nation.
The details of the robo-signing scam were spelled out in my last article, here. The robo-signing fraud and its implications are expanded on below.
Over half the homes in the country are now held in the name of an electronic database called MERS—Mortgage Electronic Registration Services. MERS is a smokescreen behind which mortgages were sold to trusts that sold them to investors. The mortgages were chopped into pieces and sold as “mortgage-backed securities” (MBS), which traded in a supposedly liquid market. That meant the investors could sell them in the money market at any time on a day’s notice. Yale economist Gary Gorton gives this example:
Tim McLaughlin & Aruna Viswanatha (Reuters) | RS_News
December 2 2011
The Massachusetts attorney general has filed a lawsuit against five large U.S. banks accusing them of deceptive foreclosure practices, a signal of ebbing confidence that a multi-state agreement can be worked out.
Attorney General Martha Coakley said on Thursday she filed the lawsuit partly because it has been taking too long to hammer out a nationwide settlement.
For more than a year, state and federal officials have been negotiating a deal in which banks would pay billions of dollars in fines – to go toward housing relief – in exchange for legal protection against future suits.
The Massachusetts lawsuit, filed in state court in Boston, accuses Bank of America Corp, JPMorgan Chase & Co Inc, Citigroup Inc, Wells Fargo & Co and GMAC of deceptive foreclosure practices, such as using robo-signers and false documents.
“Our suit alleges that the banks have charted a destructive path by cutting corners and rushing to foreclose on homeowners without following the rule of law,” Coakley said in a statement.
The attorney general in Iowa, Tom Miller, who is leading the negotiations for the states, said in a statement they hope to reach a settlement “soon.” He also said Coakley had indicated she is still open to joining the settlement.
“We’re optimistic that we’ll settle on terms that will be in the interests of Massachusetts,” Miller said.
However, analysts said Coakley’s lawsuit is a bad sign for banks, which hope a deal with states and federal authorities could help the industry move beyond the legal fallout that has dogged it since the peak of the financial crisis.
“I can’t say anything is dead, but it sure looks like this is a negative. The banks are going to have these suits out there for years.” said Paul Miller, a bank analyst with FBR Capital Markets.
By Richard (RJ) Eskow | Nation Of Change
October 25 2011
Imagine that a group of arsonists was terrorizing your town. First they’d buy insurance on a stranger’s home, then they’d show up with a blowtorch and a tanker truck filled with gasoline and burn the place down. Imagine that they’ve burned down a thousand homes this way, ruining the lives of the homeowners – and everyone else’s, too, as real estate values plunged and the local economy collapsed.
Now let’s imagine that the Mayor, the DA, and the Chief of Police said they’ve come up with a great “settlement”: The arsonists will pay a small fine, and they’ll never be prosecuted for arson. Plus, if they’re asked very nicely, they’ll also agree to provide a little help to 27 out of the 1,000 families they made homeless – although they’d control the ‘help’ process and the town might wind up footing the bill anyway.
And one more thing: They get to keep the gasoline truck and the blowtorch
Substitute “country” for “town” and “banker” for “arsonist,” and that pretty much sums up the mortgage fraud settlement that the Administration and some Attorneys General keep trying to impose on the nation. It’s a sweetheart arrangement that asks for pennies on the dollar, would only help a tiny fraction of those harmed, and would allow the wrongdoers to keep the tools of their criminal trade – making future crimes all but irresistible to the feloniously inclined.
Here are four reasons why California Attorney General Kamala Harris and her colleagues must reject this proposal:
1. Crime must be punished
The bankers’ crimes during the mortgage crisis have included perjury, forgery, and investor fraud. These aren’t the baseless accusations of some wild-eyed radicals. They’re well-documented in the “consent orders” that the banks signed with the Treasury Department, most of which resemble the one executed with JPMorgan Chase. It’s the kind of deal that’s all too common these days: The bank “neither confirms nor denies” it did anything wrong.
Then it promises to stop.