Fannie Mae Evicts Family in Foreclosure, Then Installs Armed Guards
On January 16, 2013, just after 5 AM, 12 sheriff’s deputies and 10 Portland police officers forcefully evicted the original Portland foreclosure fighters – Debbie and Ron Austin – from their NE Portland home. The eviction was at the demand of the government sponsored and funded mortgage finance vehicle, Fannie Mae.
The family was evicted, but their home is not empty. A force of armed private security guards from McRoberts Security was immediately installed in Debbie Austin’s home. The guards have been on 24-hour duty in the home ever since.
Typical cost for private security indicates that Fannie Mae is spending $480-$600 a day, or $15,000 a month on 24-hour armed guards. Since the Austins’ January eviction, Fannie Mae has spent nearly $50,000 of essentially public money to keep one home empty.
“It was horrifying. I was standing on the sidewalk at 6 AM in my pajamas watching the sheriff change the locks and seeing armed security forces enter my home,” said Debbie Austin. “Fannie Mae is a publicly owned company and this is how they treat me and my family? My husband is a veteran; my daughter is in college, and we have lived here for 27 years. No one deserves to be treated like this!”
The Austins came out as the first family in Oregon publicly fighting their eviction in December 2011. In the years before, both Debbie and her husband Ron were diagnosed with cancer and slipped into foreclosure. During foreclosure, the family tried to get refinancing or modification and was financially able to make payments, but the bank continued with the foreclosure proceedings. The Austins tried to fight for their home in court, but, like many contesting foreclosure, they could not afford a lawyer and were unable to compete with the Fannie Mae’s local legal team.
U.S. Demands Wells Fargo Records To Identify Tax Cheats Using Caribbean Havens
Opening yet another front in their war against offshore tax evasion, U.S. enforcers have served a “John Doe” summons on Wells Fargo WFC +0.26% Bank requiring it to turn over records that could identify any U.S. taxpayers who held accounts from 2004 through 2012 at CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank Limited (FCIB), which operates in 18 Caribbean countries, including such notorious tax havens as the Cayman Islands.
Schwab Sues BofA and Other Banks Over Libor Manipulation
Charles Schwab Corp. (SCHW), whose antitrust claims against banks over manipulation of the London interbank offered rate were tossed from federal court in New York, sued Bank of America Corp. and other financial institutions for fraud in state court in San Francisco.
Schwab alleged in a complaint filed April 29 that it and other company entities purchased billions of dollars in Libor- based instruments that are paying artificially low returns because the banks agreed to depress the rate.
Wall Street’s New Bed Buddy: House Finance Chair Hensarling Goes on Ski Vacation with Wall Street
In January, Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, ascended to the powerful chairmanship of the House Financial Services Committee. Six weeks later, campaign finance filings and interviews show, Hensarling was joined by representatives of the banking industry for a ski vacation fundraiser at a posh Park City, Utah, resort.
The congressman’s political action committee held the fundraiser at the St. Regis Deer Valley, the “Ritz-Carlton of ski resorts”known for its “white-glove service” and for its restaurant by superstar chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten.
There’s no evidence the fundraiser broke any campaign finance rules. But a ski getaway with Hensarling, whose committee oversees both Wall Street and its regulators, is an invaluable opportunity for industry lobbyists.
Among those attending the weekend getaway was an official from the American Securitization Forum, a Wall Street industry group, a spokesman confirmed. It gave $2,500 in February to Hensarling’s political action committee, the Jobs, Economy, and Budget (JEB) Fund.
Len Wolfson, a lobbyist for the Mortgage Bankers Association, which gave the JEB Fund $5,000 that month, posted a picture on Instagram from the weekend of the fundraiser of the funicular at the St. Regis. (It was labeled, “Putting the #fun in #funicular. #stregis #deervalley #utah.”) Wolfson did not respond to requests for comment. (UPDATE 1 p.m.Wolfson has now set his account to private.)
Visa, which gave the JEB Fund $5,000, also sent an official. A Visa spokesman told ProPublica that in attendance were not just finance companies, but also big retailers and others.
As legal issues wind down, LPS looks to increase business
After more than three years of investigations by federal and state authorities into foreclosure processes, the legal issues that have saddled Lender Processing Services Inc. and its mortgage banking clients are winding down.
For Jacksonville-based LPS, which provides technology services to mortgage lenders, the focus now is on increasing business as financial institutions adjust to new industry standards.
“As lenders move beyond legacy issues, including the recent settlement of many bank consent orders, we are seeing an even greater focus on deploying technology to re-engineer processes and to address the cost structure of originating and servicing loans,” LPS Chief Executive Officer Hugh Harris said in the company’s quarterly conference call last week.
“We are collaborating with our clients, including the nation’s leading and emerging mortgage institutions, to address these needs,” he said.
Brown-Vitter Recasts Financial-Reform Battlefield
April 29 (Bloomberg) — A year ago, the big U.S. banks were focused on repealing, or at least eliminating large parts of, the Dodd-Frank financial-reform law.
They poured money into the campaign of the Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, and gave generously to opponents of pro-reform Senate candidates Sherrod Brown and Elizabeth Warren. At the same time, lobbyists devised creative tactics to delay implementation of Dodd-Frank — filing lawsuits, mobilizing international pressure, hiring former regulators, writing opinion articles and comment letters, and commissioning faux research pieces. It was a tour de force by one of the great lobbies at the top of its game.
And it failed.
On April 23, I attended a forum organized by American Banker, a trade publication, to discuss the legislative proposal crafted by Brown, an Ohio Democrat, and Senator David Vitter, a Louisiana Republican. In attendance was a Who’s Who of the industry lobby, with all the major groups represented at a senior level, including the Financial Services Forum, the Clearing House and the American Bankers Association.
They let it be known that the line from big banks and their allies had shifted and that their new refrain is “let’s implement Dodd-Frank.”
This sounds like a significant change in rhetoric, but don’t fall for it. The reality remains the same — a very powerful lobby is working flat-out to ensure that the industry keeps its dangerous, nontransparent and unfair subsidies. Yet the winds are shifting against the megabanks for three main reasons.