Daily Archives: April 28, 2014

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U.S. justices agree to hear homeowner case against bank

U.S. justices agree to hear homeowner case against bank

(Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday agreed to decide what process struggling homeowners need to follow if they want to back out of mortgages issued when lenders fail to adhere to a federal disclosure law.

The court will weigh whether homeowners need to write a letter to their lender or file a lawsuit in order to benefit from a provision of the federal law, known as the Truth in Lending Act. The law allows consumers to rescind mortgages for up to three years after the agreement was made if the lender does not notify them of various details about the loan, including finance charges and rate of interest.

The provision is typically used by homeowners who are struggling to pay their mortgages. Lawyers for consumers say mortgage companies routinely violated the law in the years prior to the 2008 financial crisis.

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Mortgage Whistleblower Stands Alone as U.S. Won’t Join Lawsuit..Surprise!

Mortgage Whistleblower Stands Alone as U.S. Won’t Join Lawsuit..Surprise!

Go get em, Lynn! Government folded as usual…

Two years after Lynn Szymoniak helped the U.S. recover $95 million from Bank of America Corp. and other lenders for mortgage-fraud tied to the housing bubble, the whistle-blower said the government is ignoring a chance to collect more money for identical claims against other banks.

Szymoniak got $18 million when the U.S. Justice Department intervened in her foreclosure-fraud lawsuit. The government negotiated a settlement with five lenders including Bank of America andJPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM)

The other banks accused of the same behavior, including Deutsche Bank AG (DBK) and HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBA), are still fighting Szymoniak’s suit, saying she isn’t a true whistle-blower. And the U.S., while continuing its crackdown on banks that packaged risky loans for sale as securities, hasn’t joined with her this time, leaving her to fight the banks alone. U.S. District Judge Joseph Anderson in Columbia, South Carolina, today is set to consider their bid to throw the case out.

“This is a case the government should take a stand on,” Reuben Guttman, one of Szymoniak’s lawyers, said in an interview. “It is curious as to why the government is not vigorously pursuing this along with us. They are leaving money on the table.”

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If the Justice Department decides to join the suit, it shares the work and brings the government’s resources to the case. On her own, Szymoniak is at a greater disadvantage, given the resources available to the banks.

But if she wins, she will get a bigger payout. Government intervention means a whistle-blower like Szymoniak can receive a maximum of 25 percent of any recovery under the law, known as theFalse Claims Act. If the Justice Department declines to join the case, a whistle-blower may get as much as 30 percent of any jury award or settlement.

The remainder would go into the government’s coffers, said Joan Krause, a University of North Carolina law professor who teaches about the anti-fraud statute.

“There could be a variety of reasons why the government would choose not to intervene in the remaining claims,” Krause said in an interview. “Given the limitations on resources, they may not have the manpower to devote to this case. The Justice Department may also be of the view that the evidence against the other defendants may not be as strong as it was against the banks that settled earlier.”

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BofA Gets Approval For Impound Account Class Settlement

BofA Gets Approval For Impound Account Class Settlement

Law360, Los Angeles (April 28, 2014, 3:46 PM ET) — A federal judge on Friday granted final approval to a settlement resolving a suit by a class of California homeowners challenging Bank of America Corp.’s now-revoked policy of establishing impound accounts that allowed the bank to pay the borrowers’ property taxes and homeowner’s insurance without their consent.

U.S. District Judge Dana M. Sabraw signed a final judgment and order approving the class action settlement, four months after granting preliminary approval to the deal. The settlement gives class members the option of closing the allegedly improper impound…

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UK Charges 3 More Ex-Barclays Traders In Libor Probe

UK Charges 3 More Ex-Barclays Traders In Libor Probe

Law360, New York (April 28, 2014, 11:56 AM ET) — The U.K. Serious Fraud Office on Monday launched a criminal proceeding against three additional former Barclays PLC traders, bringing to 12 the number of individuals charged in its ongoing probe of Libor manipulation.

Jay Vijay Merchant, Alex Julian Pabon and Ryan Michael Reich were accused of conspiracy to defraud by the SFO, an independent arm of the British government that investigates and prosecutes complex frauds and corruption. Details of the charges against them will not be made public until their first Magistrates’ Court hearing, expected on…

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Justice League Movie Will Follow ‘Batman vs. Superman’

Justice League Movie Will Follow ‘Batman vs. Superman’

Yea!

Zack Snyder will direct the long-rumored Justice League movie for Warner Bros.immediately following his work on “Batman vs. Superman,” this according to Ben Fritz of The Wall Street Journal. That report corroborates similar stories posted by Latino Review in January of this year and The Hollywood Reporter in July of 2013.

No release date has been set just yet, but it’s expected that “Justice League” could arrive in theaters as early as 2017. Snyder’s “Batman vs. Superman” film is set for release on May 6, 2016, the same day as “Captain America 3.”

“[‘Justice League’] will be a further expansion of this universe,” Greg Silverman, president of worldwide production for Warner Bros., told The Wall Street Journal. “‘Superman vs Batman’ will lead into ‘Justice League.'”

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Bank Of America Messes Up Capital Calculation, Suspends Dividend Increase

Bank Of America Messes Up Capital Calculation, Suspends Dividend Increase

April 28 (Reuters) – Bank of America Corp said it would suspend its $4 billion stock buyback program and a planned increase in its quarterly dividend because it miscalculated the level of its capital after buying Merrill Lynch in 2009.

The restatement means that the bank holds less capital than previously estimated.

Bank of America, whose shares were down 5 percent in early trading on Monday, was ordered by the Federal Reserve to suspend and resubmit its capital plans for 2014.

The Fed said the bank must address the errors in its regulatory capital calculations and ensure there were no further problems with its reporting. (http://link.reuters.com/zef88v)

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Accounting Exec in S.C. Commits Suicide Amid FBI Probe: Report

Accounting Exec in S.C. Commits Suicide Amid FBI Probe: Report

American Banker (sub. req):

 

Linda Cox, a former comptroller of First South Bank in Spartanburg, S.C., committed suicide after being questioned by the Federal Bureau of Investigation about missing funds at the bank, the Greenville News reported on Saturday.

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Double Standards in Bankruptcies

Double Standards in Bankruptcies

Developments in the Detroit bankruptcy have exposed a double standard in federal bankruptcy law, an injustice in urgent need of congressional reform.

In Detroit, the judge has ruled that under Chapter 9 of the bankruptcy law, the city’s creditors include even municipal pensioners whose payouts are guaranteed under the Michigan Constitution. Accordingly, the pensioners have reached a tentative deal to reduce retiree benefits; along with concessions made by other creditors, the goal is to help the debtor, the city of Detroit, get a fresh start and move forward.

Contrast that with what happened in the housing bust. The creditors in that fiasco — including powerful banks — did not have to cut deals in court with bankrupt homeowners. Under Chapter 13 of the bankruptcy law, a section heavily influenced by the financial industry, lenders cannot be forced to rework most residential mortgages in bankruptcy.

That is where the legal double standard comes in. In Detroit’s bust, even pensioners have to negotiate new terms; in the housing bust, big banks did not have to negotiate, leaving many homeowners in the dust.

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Citigroup, DOJ to discuss mortgage-securities settlement

Citigroup, DOJ to discuss mortgage-securities settlement

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department and Citigroup Inc. plan to meet next month in the opening salvo of multibillion-dollar settlement talks aimed at ending probes into how the bank handled shoddy mortgage-backed securities, according to people familiar with the matter.

The scheduled meeting will be the first chance for each side to put a number on a potential settlement, but in the past such numbers have been far apart, representing little more than starting negotiating positions.

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Calif. Rips Chase’s Defenses In Abusive Debt-Collection Row

Calif. Rips Chase’s Defenses In Abusive Debt-Collection Row

Law360, Los Angeles (April 25, 2014, 10:29 PM ET) — The state of California urged a Los Angeles County judge on Thursday to toss a bevy of equitable defenses JPMorgan Chase & Co. asserted against claims that it abused credit-card customers through shoddy record-keeping and other debt collection practices that have plagued the mortgage servicing industry.

At a hearing Thursday, Deputy Attorney General James Toma asked Superior Court Judge Jane L. Johnson to reconsider her written tentative ruling, which sustained the state’s demurrer on 10 of JPMorgan’s 20 affirmative defenses. Toma said that JPMorgan’s equitable defenses…