Daily Archives: August 15, 2012

Throwing The American Clients Under The Bus. HSBC, Credit Suisse Sacrifice Staff to Placate U.S., Lawyers Say

Swiss banks are turning over thousands of employee names to U.S. authorities as they seek leniency for their alleged role in helping American clients evade taxes, according to lawyers representing banking staff.

At least five banks supplied e-mails and telephone records containing as many as 10,000 names to the U.S. Department of Justice, according to estimates by Douglas Hornung, a Geneva- based lawyer representing 40 current and former employees of HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBA)’s Swiss unit, Credit Suisse Group AG (CSGN) and Julius Baer Group Ltd. (BAER) The data handover is illegal, said Alec Reymond, a former president of the Geneva Bar Association, who is representing two Credit Suisse staff.

“The banks are burning their own people to try and cut deals with the DoJ,” said Hornung. “This violation of personal privacy is unprecedented in the Swiss banking industry.”

Read on.


Ed Towns, Dem. Rep., Excluded His And Other House Members’ VIP Loans From Subpoena

House Members’ VIP Loans Excluded From Subpoena – ABC News.

A Democratic committee chairman overrode his own subpoena three years ago in an investigation of former subprime mortgage lender Countrywide Financial Corp. to exclude records showing that he, other House members and congressional aides got VIP discounted loans from the company, documents show.

The procedure to keep the names secret was devised by Rep. Edolphus Towns, D-N.Y. In 2003, the 15-term congressman had two loans processed by Countrywide’s VIP section, which was established to give discounts to favored borrowers.

The effort at secrecy was reversed when Towns’ Republican successor as chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, California Rep. Darrell Issa, issued a second subpoena. It yielded Countrywide records identifying four current House members, a former member and five staff aides whose loans went through the VIP unit. Towns was on the list.

Issa, in a statement to The Associated Press on Wednesday, said, “It was a long fight to expose how Countrywide used its VIP program to advance its business and policy goals.”

County eyeing possible $5M class-action mortgage suit

Jessamine County is mulling over signing onto a possible class-action lawsuit against the organization known as Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (MERS), which could possible recoup thousands of dollars of fees owed.

The county was approached by attorney Sandra Spurgeon of Spurgeon & Tinker, PSC, which, along with The Bolog firm, currently represents 14 counties in Kentucky that are suing MERS, including Boyd, Franklin, Pike and several other counties.

The basis of the litigation is an effort to seek compensation for lost mortgage assignment fees allegedly withheld because of the actions of MERS over the past several years.
MERS is a private third party that buys and sell mortgages between banks.

According to the lawsuit, MERS would buy and sell the same mortgage between as many as three banks. Every time a mortgage is bought or sold, there is an assignment fee owed to county clerk’s office where the mortgage originated.

Read on.

JPMorgan, UBS Said Among Banks Queried in Libor Probe

JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) and Barclays Plc (BARC) are among seven banks subpoenaed in New York and Connecticut’s investigation into alleged manipulation of Libor, according to a person familiar with the matter and company filings.

Subpoenas were sent in recent weeks to five of the banks, Deutsche Bank AG (DBK), Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc and HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBA) in addition to JPMorgan and Barclays, said the person. Citigroup Inc. (C) and UBS AG (UBSN) received subpoenas earlier this year as part of the investigation.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen are jointly investigating alleged manipulation of the London interbank offered rate by lenders. RBS, UBS, Lloyds Banking Group Plc (LLOY) and Deutsche Bank are among the lenders regulators in Europe, Asia and the U.S. are investigating. The U.S. is conducting a criminal investigation.

Read on.

Insight: Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac clamping down on banks

(Reuters) – Government-owned Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are stepping up efforts to find bad home loans that they can force mortgage lenders to buy back from them, providing an increasingly bigger headache to banks.

The government-controlled companies are squabbling with banks over who should bear the burden of losses from the housing crunch, in particular loans made between 2005 and 2008, when the market was at its frothiest.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s efforts will translate to higher mortgage losses for banks in the coming quarters. But the end of the fighting may be in sight. Fannie Mae, the larger of the two finance companies, is more than halfway through its review of loans to try to sell back to banks and is mainly focusing on that four-year period, a source familiar with the matter said.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac buy mortgages from banks and bundle the loans into bonds that get sold to investors. The loans are supposed to have met guidelines to be eligible for bundling. The two mortgage giants guarantee the packaged bonds.

Read on.

National Archives Sued Over Financial Crisis Documents

It’s been 18 months since the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC), the bipartisan group charged by Congress with discovering the causes of the 2008 financial meltdown, released its final report (PDF). At the time, the commissioners promised that many of the documents the FCIC gathered during its investigation—including testimony from bank officials and internal bank emails and memos—would “eventually be made public.” But the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), which holds the documents, has so far refused to release many of them, saying that it has put a five-year restriction on their release. “Eventually,” it turns out, means half a decade.

Cause of Action, a Washington transparency watchdog that filed a Freedom of Information Act request seeking the FCIC documents last year, thinks the American public should not have to wait that long. Late Tuesday, the group sued NARA in federal court in Washington, DC, aiming to force the disclosure of thousands of pages of as-yet-unreleased documents.

Rest here…

Arizona homeowner: ‘Bank stole my house’ – CBS 5 – KPHO#.UCukh1fM84c.twitter

Arizona homeowner: ‘Bank stole my house’ – CBS 5 – KPHO#.UCukh1fM84c.twitter.


An Arizona man is accusing his bank of stealing his house and he wants it back.

The homeowner was on the verge of foreclosure when he paid off all the money he owed, but the bank sold the house anyway.

David Reed told CBS5 that he thought he had nothing to worry about when his home and 5-acre property in Maricopa was scheduled to be sold at auction, because he fell behind on his mortgage payments.

“I called their payment line and asked them what is the  total amount I owed to stop my house from going into foreclosure,” said Reed. “They told me $21,573.”

The 52-year old, who’s spent the past year battling health problems, sent the full amount straight to Cenlar Bank, which acknowledged receiving the money March 5.

Reed was convinced his home was safe, but it wasn’t.

“I came home one day and had a notice on my door that somebody else owned my property and I either had to get out immediately or rent it back from them.”

Cenlar Bank had gone ahead with the trustee sale, March 23, even though Reed was now up to date on his mortgage and had paid all his interest and late fees


Thousands of Ohio homeowners were foreclosed on improperly, lawsuit claims

Eight mortgage-related businesses are accused of falsifying documents to improperly foreclose on thousands of homeowners in Ohio.

The suit alleges that the mortgage service companies altered paperwork to make it appear they had authority to file foreclosures in the proper time frame. A Cleveland law firm, Kaufman & Co., joined five other local and national law firms to file the suit on behalf of seven Ohio homeowners.

The suit, filed in Cuyahoga Common Pleas Court, seeks class-action status, meaning thousands of homeowners in similar situations could benefit.

Read on.

CFPB to spy on banks?

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is considering a move towards the cloak-and-dagger, and is apparently recruiting investigators to work undercover at banks and other financial institutions in an effort to turn up evidence of bad behavior. The pay is pretty good, too: $98,000 to $149,000 per year.

The positions being advertised include the ability to oversee contracts with private investigators, according to a published story at the Washington Times, which says investigators would be assigned to “delicate matters, issues and investigative problems for which there are few, if any, established criteria.”

Not surprisingly, the CFPB isn’t discussing specifics about these secretive new hires, but says it won’t violate civil liberties with its undercover activities; and it says it will make the results of its investigations public, as well.

Read more at the Washington Times.

Goldman execs cleared from shareholder suit over mortgage problems

Goldman Sachs ($103.26 -0.35%) won dismissal Tuesday of a shareholder suit claiming board members and executives ignored mortgage securities and servicing flaws and hurt the company when they exited the Troubled Asset Relief Program early.

Shareholders, including the Alabama Retirement Relief System, filed the suit alleging the executives, including CEO Lloyd Blankfein, knew about troubled loans being packaged into mortgage bonds and collateralized debt obligations such as Abacus.

Shareholders also claimed they allowed Litton Loan Servicing, the mortgage unit since sold to Ocwen Financial Corp. ($24.11 0.4%), robo-signed foreclosure documents and led to a consent order with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.


Read on.