Daily Archives: September 1, 2014

Labor Day: The Beginning of a Breakthrough

Huffington Post:

This Labor Day, working families do not have much to celebrate when it comes to wages and job security. But we can celebrate the fact that the deteriorating conditions of work are finally breaking through into broad political consciousness. Last week, the board of directors of Market Basket, one of the last of the independent supermarket chains, agreed to restore the fired CEO, Arthur T. Demoulas, who had treated workers decently rather than just milking the enterprise for dividends as another faction of this family-owned company has sought to do. An uprising by salaried managers and workers had brought the business to a halt. The Market Basket story is particularly instructive, because it represents how so-called shareholder capitalism puts pressure on managers to destroy job security and decent earnings for working people.

Bank of America Settlement and the Need for Legal Aid Lawyers

This post first appeared at Talk Poverty.

Last week, Bank of America reached a record-setting $16.65 billion settlement with the Department of Justice for selling toxic mortgage securities during the housing boom. The agreement includes $30 million for states to distribute to their legal aid programs. This is encouraging news for the 1.75 million homeowners who are still in default on their mortgages, as well as the 9.5 million borrowers who are underwater and at risk of foreclosure. But it’s not enough.

One of the best ways to prevent unnecessary foreclosures is to provide struggling families with a legal aid lawyer. While the state guarantees legal representation for any criminal proceeding, there is no such guarantee in civil cases. Therefore, access to fair representation depends largely on the availability of free legal aid lawyers who have a long track record of helping people with no other options — such as battered spouses, people with disabilities, parents seeking child support, homeless veterans and others without means.

Legal aid lawyers have the necessary training to help homeowners navigate the byzantine mortgage servicing system. They can identify mortgages that were illegal or predatory, and also help families make their mortgage payments by securing resources like unpaid wages, child support, public benefits, or unemployment insurance. Legal aid programs have saved many thousands of homes since the start of the financial crisis, but recently have struggled to secure funding for their vital work. The Bank of America settlement will hopefully be helpful in this regard  but we need to do much more.

Read on.

Foreclosures prompt lawsuits against debt collectors in N.J.

Seven years after the meltdown of the subprime mortgage market, New Jersey continues to be a hotbed of home repossessions by lenders, resulting in reams of foreclosure-fraud and improper-debt-collection complaints that mainly target intermediaries known as mortgage servicers.

Fort Lee homeowner Eun Ju Song, who was notified last year that he was in default on his loan and is facing foreclosure, claims mortgage companies botched transfers of ownership rights to the mortgage he signed in 2006 and forged documents to try to fix the problem. In a federal lawsuit filed in Newark in May against Bank of America and the mortgage servicer Green Tree Servicing, he claimed that they haven’t shown they have any legal right to collect.

“With no properly recorded owner of the plaintiff’s mortgage, there is no one or entity entitled to enforce the conditions of the mortgage obligation,” the complaint says.

Jerry K. Wong of Clifton filed a lawsuit in May against Green Tree, which for the past couple of years has been one the most prolific foreclosure filers in the state. Wong accuses Green Tree, based in St. Paul, Minn., and one of its subcontractors of misrepresenting themselves as creditors when trying to collect on his loan, which went into default in late 2012. Such practices are a violation of the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, according to the lawsuit, which seeks $500,000 in statutory and other damages.

Green Tree did not respond to requests for comment.

In West Milford, homeowner Paul Onder has been in a stand-off with the Utah-based debt collector Select Portfolio Services for four years over the same question: Who owns the mortgage? He said he hasn’t made a payment on his $450,000 debt consolidation loan since 2010.

“They want me to pay money? Where is that money going?” he said Wednesday in an interview.

SPS could not be reached for comment.

– See more at: http://www.northjersey.com/news/business/foreclosures-go-on-trial-1.1078579#sthash.JtLuoYF4.dpuf

A.G. Schneiderman Sues Long Island & Florida Companies For Defrauding Homeowners In Mortgage Rescue Scheme

Deadly Clear

Court Issues Restraining Order Against Firms As Lawsuit Seeks Restitution For Consumers

AG NY SchneidermanNEW YORK – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today filed a lawsuit in New York County Supreme Court against four interrelated companies and their principals for operating a fraudulent loan modification scam. The lawsuits were filed against Home Affordable Direct, Inc. (Farmingdale, NY), Home Affordable Solutions, Inc. (Farmingdale, NY), JR Holding Group Corp (Babylon, NY), Clear Solutions and Settlements, Inc. (Tampa, FL) and their principals, Javier Gutierrez and Shadi Soumekh.  The companies and their principals are alleged to prey upon financially vulnerable consumers by claiming they can provide substantial relief from unaffordable mortgage payments through loan modifications and other forms of foreclosure prevention.

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Barclays to Sell Retail and Corporate Bank Units to CaixaBank of Spain

Barclays said on Sunday it had agreed to sell its retail and corporate banking business in Spain to CaixaBank for 800 million euros, or $1.05 billion, the latest development in the British bank’s plan to streamline itself by selling noncore businesses.

The Spanish unit, Barclays Bank SAU, includes 2,400 employees across 262 branches, and the price CaixaBank is paying represents a steep discount to the unit’s net asset value of 1.7 billion euros.
While Barclays was profitable in its most recent quarter, the British bank has continued to struggle with a host of large fines and regulatory issues both at home and in the United States. The bank has also seen a number of high-level departures this year.

The sale of the Spanish unit includes retail banking, wealth and investment management and corporate banking businesses. It does not include investment banking or credit card operations.

Barclays also said on Sunday it would record a gain of around 119 million pounds, or $197 million, after completing the sale of its retail business in the United Arab Emirates to Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank.

Read on.