Monthly Archives: December 2013


Congressman Rohrabacher Left California Home A Grimy Mess (PHOTOS)

Congressman Rohrabacher Left California Home A Grimy Mess (PHOTOS)

Brace yourself on the photos of Congressman’s home..

Rep. Steve Stockman’s gross campaign office may turn out to just be the first in a series.

The OC Weekly on Thursday published a report on the “horrific pigsty” that Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) left behind in a Costa Mesa, Calif. home he lived in from 2010 to 2012. And there are photographs.

According to the newspaper, Rohrabacher moved into the four-bedroom, four-bathroom, 6,300-square-foot home on April Fool’s Day 2010. Rent was $3,350 a month. The carpets were new, and the backyard featured “thriving” flowers, plants, and grass. But when homeowner Robert Polyniak’s longtime girlfriend, Darlene Whitsell, entered the home shortly after the Rohrabachers left the property, things looked different.

“It was disgusting,” Whitsell told the OC Weekly. “It was unbelievable. Who lives like that?”

Among the damage: the carpeting was covered in “massive black stains and muck;” appliances were damaged and rusted; the plants outside had dried up and died; there were holes in the walls; every toilet seat in the house was broken; light switches and doors had been cracked; an overflowing tub cracked a ceiling with water damage; phone lines were “strangely severed;” and more.

Invoices reviewed by the OC Weekly showed the damage totaled more than $25,800. Polyniak deducted the $6,700 security deposit and sent Rohrabacher a bill for the rest. Then Rohrabacher got the courts involved.

In a lawsuit filed in Orange County Superior Court in August 2013, Rohrabacher claimed that Polyniak had failed to refund his security deposit in a timely manner. And he wants Polyniak to pay him $20,000. In September, Polyniak filed a cross-complaint, alleging that the Rohrabachers “failed to perform their obligations under the lease and have breached the terms and conditions of the lease in numerous, material ways.”


Flagstar to Pay Freddie Mac $8.9 Million

Flagstar to Pay Freddie Mac $8.9 Million

Flagstar Bancorp (FBC) in Troy, Mich., has agreed to pay Freddie Mac $8.9 million in order to settle mortgage repurchase claims.

The settlement covers loans originated and sold to the government-sponsored entity between Jan. 1, 2000 and Dec. 31, 2008, according to Flagstar’s Monday press release. The $11.8 billion-asset Flagstar said that it has enough money in its representation and warranty reserve to cover the payment.

“This agreement is another positive step for Flagstar in further reducing the company’s risk profile while supporting improved performance,” Alessandro DiNello, Flagstar’s president and chief executive, said in the release. “We believe that our accomplishments in 2013 have positioned Flagstar for sustainable long-term growth in 2014 and beyond.”


NY District Court Judge expands class of plaintiffs in RBS MBS securities case

NY District Court Judge expands class of plaintiffs in RBS MBS securities case

As banks exposed to mortgage-backed securities litigation try to fight these claims with their sights set on ending long-term exposure, one judge in New York recently gave plaintiffs fighting the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and other parties over mortgage misrepresentations a green light to expand their class of MBS plaintiffs.

Judge Harold Baer of the U.S. Southern District of New York recently filed two opinions in which he accepts the expansion of a class of plaintiffs suing RBS and various parties over the issuance of toxic mortgage-backed securities. At the same time, the judge rejected another claim to expand a plaintiffs’ class currently fighting over another trust that contained securitized mortgages.

The first class of plaintiffs filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of those who acquired interests in theHarborview Mortgage Loan Trusts pursuant to registration statements and prospectus filed back in 2006. Another suit revolved around a class of plaintiffs who acquired interests in the so-called RALI Trusts – or Trusts backed by mortgages later deemed toxic – based on registration statements and prospectuses filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission and Residential Accredited Loans – a subsidiary of Residential Capital.


On defensive, JPMorgan hired China’s elite

On defensive, JPMorgan hired China’s elite

In a series of late-night emails, JPMorgan Chase executives in Hong Kong lamented the loss of a lucrative assignment.

“We lost a deal to DB today because they got chairman’s daughter work for them this summer,” one JPMorgan investment banking executive remarked to colleagues, using the initials for Deutsche Bank.

(Read more: Bank tabulated business linked to China hiring)

The loss of that business in 2009, coming after rival banks landed a string of other deals, stung the JPMorgan executives. For Wall Street banks enduring slowdowns in the wake of the financial crisis, China was the last great gold rush. As its economy boomed, China’s state-owned enterprises were using banks to raise billions of dollars in stock and debt offerings — yet JPMorgan was falling further behind in capturing that business.


LA Times investigation of Wells Fargo culture provokes strong reaction

LA Times investigation of Wells Fargo culture provokes strong reaction

Many others reached out after reading the story, including more than 50 former employees, 21 current employees and 19 customers. Here’s a sampling of their reactions.

Former Wells Fargo staffers

I left my position as team lead in the San Antonio call center last July because I too was fed up with the pressure to “perform,” the shadiness of branches, the lack of integrity, and management’s failure for accountability. One time I closed 26 debit cards for a customer who only wanted one. He wanted to know why the branch employees had sent him card after card. As was customary, I blamed it on a system error. Reporting infractions to the executive office was as useless as reporting to branch managers or district managers.They all covered each other up and fabricated excuse after excuse. In my last few months there, I’d go to work with my stomach tied in knots. I began having frequent chest pains, severe anxiety, and my blood pressure skyrocketed.

Mary-Louise Abney, Mico, Texas


I left Wells Fargo in October 2010 for the same reason and without another job lined up. The places they would send us to get accounts were just insane. One place we were sent was to blood banks, where people would donate blood cells for money — individuals who were struggling for money. I saw a lot of people come and go as they were caught doing unethical things just to meet their numbers. The environment turned from having experienced and knowledgeable bankers to kids straight out of high school.

Raul Antonio Ramirez, Denver



SFO plots charges over Libor scandal

SFO plots charges over Libor scandal

British authorities are preparing charges against several more bankers and traders in connection with the Libor-rigging scandal, the country’s top fraud investigator has revealed.

David Green, director-general of the Serious Fraud Office, said the agency was in the process of an “enormous” investigation into interest rate manipulation, with about a fifth of its staff now working on the inquiry.

“I am sure there will be more charges against others,” said Mr Green in an interview with The Sunday Telegraph in which he also acknowledged a rift with the US over the handling of the investigation.


Academics get paid by financial firms to testify against Dodd-Frank regulations. What’s wrong with this picture?

Academics get paid by financial firms to testify against Dodd-Frank regulations. What’s wrong with this picture?

Professor Todd Zywicki is vying to be the toughest critic of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the new agency set up by the landmark Dodd-Frank financial reform law to monitor predatory lending practices. In research papers and speeches, Zywicki not only routinely slams the CFPB’s attempts to regulate bank overdraft fees and payday lenders; he depicts the agency as a “parochial” bureaucracy that is “guaranteed to run off the rails.” He has also become one of the leading detractors of the CFPB’s primary architect, Elizabeth Warren, questioning her seminal research on medical bankruptcies and slamming her for once claiming Native American heritage to gain “an edge in hiring.”

Zywicki’s withering arguments against financial reform have earned him guest columns in The Wall Street JournalThe Washington Times and on The New York Times’s website. Lobbyists representing the largest consumer finance companies in the country have cited his writings in letters to regulators, and the number of times he has testified before Congress is prominently displayed on his academic website at the George Mason University School of Law.

What isn’t contained in Zywicki’s university profile, CV, byline or congressional testimony is the law professor’s other job: he is a director of the Global Economics Group, a consulting business that boasts in a brochure that its experts have been hired by industry to influence the CFPB and other regulatory agencies. Nor does Zywicki advertise Global’s client list, which includes some of the biggest names in the financial industry, among them Visa, Bank of America and Citigroup. 

Last summer, Zywicki’s firm was retained for $500 an hour on behalf of Morgan Drexen, a debt-relief company accused by the CFPB of deceiving consumers and charging illegal upfront fees. None of these potential conflicts of interest, however, have been disclosed during the course of Zywicki’s anti-CFPB advocacy in the media or in government.  


DOJ declined to enforce Bernie Madoff-related subpoena of J.P. Morgan: document

DOJ declined to enforce Bernie Madoff-related subpoena of J.P. Morgan: document

The Justice Department likes to brag about being tough on the banking industry. But just how tough?

Not as tough as the Treasury Department would like, apparently, at least when it comes to J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. JPM -0.05% and Bernie Madoff.

The government has been looking into whether J.P. Morgan, which had a two-decade relationship with Madoff, ignored warning signs that the operation he was running was actually a giant Ponzi scheme. Banks are supposed to report suspicious activity by clients.

But the Treasury Department, in its investigation, couldn’t seem to catch a break: In May, the Treasury’s inspector-general office subpoenaed J.P. Morgan for Madoff-related documents, but J.P. Morgan declined. Then Treasury asked the Department of Justice to enforce the subpoena, but the Justice Department declined that request in September.


JPMorgan Chase CEO’s Daughter Writes About Flint; That’s Not The Oddest Part

JPMorgan Chase CEO’s Daughter Writes About Flint; That’s Not The Oddest Part

Laura Dimon, who didn’t speak with many Flint residents, says they have “resilience and loyalty [that are] a testament to the true spirit of this city.”

Flint ‘s “story of depression and decay,” as New York journalist Laura Dimon describes it in an online article, is far different from her experience as a child of privilege and wealth.  

Dimon, a columnist at a Manhattan digital media start-up called  PolicyMic, is one of three daughters of Judith Kent and Jamie Dimon. chairman president and CEO of JPMorgan Chase — one of the “too big to fail” banks. The career-starting Dimon has a 2009 psychology degree from Barnard College and a seven-month-old master’s from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

None of that means she can’t report sensitively and insightfully on Flint — if two-year-old Policy Mic gave writers the time and budget for field reporting. That evidently isn’t how Dimon covers “the hell that has become of much of America’s Rust Belt” for a site that’s much closer to Upworthy and BuzzFeed than to Atlantic Cities or National Journal.

Dimon’s piece about “Detroit’s failing and forsaken neighbor 66 miles to the northwest” is largely a compilation of facts, figures and material published elsewhere — what pre-digital journalists called “a clip job,” referring to clippings from other publications and their paper’s library. The Flint report has 21 external links in just 26 paragraphs, including four each to articles in Forbes and The New York Times. 

One of four people quoted is a filmmaker whose comments are from a July 2012 article in Wired. Another is a photographer whose sentence is from a blurb at his online portfolio. The others, an author and another photographer, apparently spoke to Dimon by phone or email.


Barclays Fined £2.3m For ‘Records Failure

Barclays Fined £2.3m For ‘Records Failure

Barclays has been fined $3.75m (£2.3m) by a US regulator over an alleged decade-long failure to properly keep electronic records, emails and instant messages.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) said that from 2002 to April 2012, Barclays failed to preserve order data, trade confirmations, account records and other information in a format that prevented their alteration or erasure, known as “Write-Once, Read-Many” or “WORM.”

It also said Barclays failed to properly retain attachments to some Bloomberg emails from May 2007 to May 2010, and failed to properly retain about 3.3 million Bloomberg instant messages from October 2008 to May 2010.