Daily Archives: October 30, 2014

Citigroup sets aside $600 million more to cover legal costs

(Reuters) – Citigroup Inc said it was setting aside an extra $600 million (374.83 million pounds) to cover legal expenses in the third quarter due to “rapidly evolving regulatory inquiries.”

The bank’s shares fell in extended trading after it revised down its third-quarter net income to $2.84 billion from the $3.44 billion it had reported on Oct. 14.

On a per-share basis, Citigroup adjusted its profit to 88 cents for the quarter. It had earlier reported a profit of $1.07 per share.

Like most banks, Citigroup does not disclose the size of its reserves for legal costs. Bernstein Research analysts estimated before Thursday’s announcement that Citigroup’s remaining reserves were about $2.5 billion at the end of September.

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Cuomo meddled with Hurricane Sandy investigation: report

Gov. Andrew Cuomo interfered with a commission tasked with looking into the post-Superstorm Sandy operations of  the Long Island Power Authority much in the same way as he did with a commission tasked to look into public corruption, according to a new investigative report from the New York Times.  The newspaper found that Cuomo’s office interfered with the commission’s investigation, tried to cover the real level of the administration’s involvement and had a preconceived idea of what the findings should be — the same behavior it displayed when dealing with the public corruption task force, which was looking into, among other things, the governor’s relationship with the real estate industry. During the months leading up to Sandy, the Cuomo administration didn’t help LIPA fill staff vacancies that the authority needed in the aftermath of the storm, the newspaper reported. One of those positions was an executive to oversee communications with customers who were without power following the storm. During Sandy’s immediate aftermath, all communications and news releases had to be sent through the governor’s office, delaying essential communication about when power would be restored. – See more at: http://therealdeal.com/blog/2014/10/30/cuomo-meddled-with-hurricane-sandy-investigation-report/#sthash.ipJ1kBvi.dpuf

Mortgage servicer Ocwen targeted by complaints

A major U.S. mortgage servicing firm under investigation for issuing backdated letters to borrowers who sought loan modifications is also the subject of thousands of consumer complaints, government data shows.

Ocwen Financial (OCN) has been targeted by 13,520 complaints filed with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau since December 2011 for problems involving loan servicing, foreclosures and related issues, according to the regulator’s data.

The complaint total ranked Ocwen third for mortgage-related grievances filed with the CFPB during the nearly three-year span. Only Bank of America (BAC), with 29,390 complaints, and Wells Fargo (WFC), with 17,574, had more, the data shows.

Ocwen’s complaint total topped those of two of its closest non-bank competitors in the mortgage servicing sector, Nationstar Mortgage (NSM) and Green Tree Servicing, a subsidiary of Walter Investment Management (WAC), according to the data.

Read on.

Los Angeles advances foreclosure registry program

The long-sought program to create an aggressive inspection program of foreclosed properties to prevent them from generating blight in neighborhoods received preliminary approval Wednesday from the Los Angeles City Council.

Under the program, which will include a $356 fee charged to banks or other lending institutions, the Department of Building and Safety would be empowered to inspect properties and order the lenders to make changes to keep them from falling into disrepair.

Final action is scheduled for Nov. 12 when the City Council will take up an ordinance enacting the proposal with the fee.

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No tax breaks so JPMorgan Chase drops plan to build 2 West Side Towers

I am broken up in tears for Jamie. ;P

The possibility that JPMorgan Chase would build a two-towered, $6.5 billion headquarters on the Far West Side of Manhattan streaked across the skyline in recent weeks, only to die quietly on Tuesday.

Jamie Dimon, chairman of Chase, called Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Tuesday to say that the country’s largest bank had decided to stay put on the East Side.

The bank had created a sensation by exploring a proposal to build a 62-story skyscraper and a second 40-story tower for 16,000 employees on adjoining parcels on the north side of 33rd Street, between 10th and 11th Avenues.

But the proposed building project — one of the largest in New York City history for a single tenant — required the resolution of a number of thorny issues, including the size of a subsidy package for Chase and the purchase of the land from Related Companies.

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Montgomery County, PA v. ICAP PLC; BNP Paribas SA; Barclays Bank PLC; Bank of America Corp.;

Fourteen financial firms secretly conspired to manipulate the ISDAfix benchmark rate from January 2006 to January 2014, a county says.

Barclays Sets Aside £500m Over For-Ex Probe

Barclays has confirmed a £500m provision for fines relating to allegations foreign exchange markets were manipulated by banks.

The London-listed lender announced the figure in its third-quarter results statement which also contained further costs associated with the historic payment protection insurance (PPI) mis-selling scandal.

It set aside an additional £170m for PPI but said it was also releasing a previous charge of £160m related to the sale of interest rate hedging products.

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Lobbying of FL AG Bondi may have broken law

Partners with a powerful Washington, D.C., law firm aren’t registered as Florida lobbyists, but that hasn’t stopped them from wining and dining Attorney General Pam Bondi the past four years to discuss clients.

Bondi dropped suits or declined to investigate cases after numerous behind-the-scenes interactions with the firm, Dickstein Shapiro, the New York Times reported Wednesday.

A Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald review shows none of the partners were registered to lobby in Florida, meaning their advocacy may have violated state law. They won’t be prosecuted unless someone files a sworn complaint with the state.

Cases involving Dickstein Shapiro clients that fizzled in Florida include Accretive Health, a Chicago-based hospital bill collection company shut down in Minnesota for six years because of abusive collection practices; Bridgepoint Education, a for-profit online school that Iowa attorney general Tom Miller said had engaged in “unconscionable” sales practices; Herbalife, which had been investigated by federal and state authorities; and online reservation companies, including Travelocity and Priceline, on allegations that they were improperly withholding taxes on hotel rooms booked in the state.

Since 2011, Dickstein Shapiro has contributed $122,060 to the Republican Attorneys General Association, a super PAC where Bondi sits on the executive committee and that contributed $750,000 to her re-election bid.

Dickstein’s partners and a client, ETC Capital, have also directly given $24,750 to Bondi’s campaign.

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Borrowers find refuge in nonbank mortgage loans

Nonbank lending is growing as homebuyers rejected by big banks turn toward non-QM loan options.

“Approximately 20% of the loans we close every month are referred by banks that won’t close the loan for one reason or another,” said Michael Stowers, branch manager of the San Diego imortgage office.

As HousingWire reported recently, nonbanks like imortgage and RPM Mortgage have started offering non-QM loans that are tailored to fit the needs of distressed homebuyers who have higher debt burdens.

Banks are being cautious to avoid repurchase losses, and where big banks are restrained, nonbanks are stepping up, taking on the bigger risks of lending to buyers with less-than-pristine credit histories.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency’s Office of the Inspector General reported that of the number of loans Fannie and Freddie purchased in the first three quarters of 2013, 46.6% were from nonbank mortgage companies, up from 32.2% in 2011.

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Ocwen’s servicer ratings downgraded…again

In what has seemingly become a daily occurrence, a ratings agency has downgraded its ratings for Ocwen Financial (OCN) over Ocwen’s ongoing issues with theNew York Department of Financial Services, theSecurities and Exchange Commission, and other agencies.

In just the last week, Moody’s Investors Service, Bank of America (BAC) and Evercore Partners all issued downgrades to Ocwen’s ratings after NYDFS Superintendent Benjamin Lawsky sent a letter to the company which alleged that the company had been backdating potentially hundreds of thousands of letters to borrowers “likely causing them significant harm.”

Compass Point also downgraded Ocwen affiliate Home Loan Servicing Solutions from Buy to Neutral with a price target of $18 and Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services lowered its long-term issuer credit rating to ‘B’ from ‘B+’ on Ocwen and said that the outlook for Ocwen is negative.

Read on.