Daily Archives: December 24, 2014

BofA Fired Hong Kong Banker to Avoid Paying Bonus, Judge Rules

Bank of America Corp. maliciously fired a distressed-debt banker to deprive her of a bonus, a Hong Kong judge ruled, awarding Sunny Tadjudin $500,000 after a seven-year legal battle.

Tadjudin’s manager, John Liptak, was determined to fire her despite her performance in an improvement plan, and his malice can be attributed to the bank, High Court Judge Anthony To said in a 141-page ruling issued today. Still, Tadjudin will receive only a fraction of the amount she requested.

Tadjudin, 51, who worked for the bank’s Asian distressed-debt trading group, had sought bonuses totaling $3.7 million after being fired in 2007 following what she said were irrational and arbitrary performance ratings. To ruled against her claims for higher 2005 and 2006 bonuses than she received.

“It may be argued that a prestigious bank as Bank of America would not do anything so mean or so lacking in commercial sense as to dismiss a performing employee to avoid paying her bonus,” To wrote. While that wasn’t the intention of senior management, “that was what the bank did through the hands of John Liptak and with his intention,” the judge said.

To awarded Tadjudin, a Chinese Indonesian who has separately brought a sexual discrimination claim against the Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank, 85 percent of her legal costs.

Read on.

SMBC to buy Citigroup’s Japan retail business in October: sources

Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp (SMBC) will buy Citigroup Inc’s (>> Citigroup Inc) Japanese retail banking operations in October for about 40 billion yen ($330 million), people with knowledge of the matter said on Wednesday.

The Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc (>> Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group, Inc.) unit will announce the long-awaited purchase on Thursday, the sources said.

Citi’s Japan consumer banking business has been hurt by weak loan demand and falling interest margins in a market where the U.S.-based lender has operated for over 100 years.

Spokesmen for the two banks declined to comment on the deal.

Read on.

Ocwen CEO unveils company’s new direction: Exit agency servicing, increase mortgage originations

Now that the dust is beginning to settle on the $150 million settlement between Ocwen Financial (OCN) and the New York Department of Financial Services, the company has unveiled its plans for the future.

First and foremost, the company will be without departing chairman William Erbey, who was forced to resign as part of the NYDFS settlement. But in a conference call with investors, Ocwen Chief Executive Officer Ron Faris revealed Ocwen’s four-part plan for the future and said that Erbey’s departure isn’t the only big change for the nonbank.

Faris told investors that Ocwen is planning to exit agency servicing. “We are going to focus our servicing business primarily on non-agency servicing,” Faris said.

Faris said that Ocwen plans to sell off its entire portfolio of agency servicing. “We estimate the difference between our $1.1 billion book value and fair value of our agency MSRs is between $400 and $500 million dollars,” Faris said.

“In addition to potentially realizing these gains, we have the potential to free up $200 to $300 million currently allocated to fund agency advances,” Faris added. “This strategy has the potential to free up over $1.7 billion of capital to invest in new businesses, to reduce leverage, or to return to shareholders over time.”

But Faris said that the sales of its agency mortgage servicing rights portfolio will not be done in bulk. “Given the current environment, we believe it is unlikely that you will see large bulk transactions like we have seen in recent years,” Faris said. “We expect to be in a position to execute this strategy with smaller transactions.”

Read on.

Thompson v. Bank of America: Sixth Circuit Rejects Claims Challenging Loan Securitization And Denial Of HAMP Loan Modification

On Friday, December 5, 2014, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit recently issued its decision inThompson v. Bank of America, et al., — F.3d —, No. 14-5561, 2014 WL 6844931, a case involving various statutory, tort, and contractual challenges to the securitization of a mortgage loan and the denial of a loan modification under the Home Affordable Modification Program (“HAMP”). In an opinion designated for publication, the Sixth Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of the lawsuit, holding that the borrower did not state any claim for relief.

The Sixth Circuit used its comprehensive opinion in Thompson to address and reject so-called “securitization” and HAMP claims that borrowers have increasingly asserted in the past few years. The Sixth Circuit addressed the theories “in detail” to “assist the district courts in addressing this wave of creative litigation.”

Here are a few key aspects of the Court’s ruling:

First , the Sixth Circuit rejected the borrower’s “argument that the securitization of her mortgage note altered her obligations under the note.” The court emphasized that “Federal law provides for the creation of mortgage-related securities” and “[t]he pooling of mortgages into investment trusts is not some sort of illicit scheme that taints the underlying debt.” It also unequivocally held that the “[s]ecuritization of a note does not alter the borrower’s obligation to repay the loan” because “[s]ecuritization is a separate contract, distinct from the borrower’s debt obligations under note.” The court further reaffirmed the propriety of using Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (“MERS”) in the transfer of mortgage notes.

Read on.

Bankers Brought Rating Agencies ‘To Their Knees’ On Tobacco Bonds

Wall Street pressed S&P, Moody’s and Fitch to assign more favorable credit ratings to their deals and bragged that the raters complied. Now many of the bonds are headed for default.

This story was co-published with Marketplace.

When the economy nosedived in 2008, it didn’t take long to find the crucial trigger. Wall Street banks had peddled billions of dollars in toxic securities after packing them with subprime mortgages that were sure to default.

Behind the bankers’ actions, however, stood a less-visible part of the finance industry that also came under fire. The big credit-rating firms – S&P, Moody’s and Fitch – routinely blessed the securities as safe investments. Two U.S. investigations found that raters compromised their independence under pressure from banks and the lure of profits, becoming, as the government’s official inquiry panel put it, “essential cogs in the wheel of financial destruction.”

Now there is evidence the raters also may have succumbed to pressure from the bankers in another area: The sale of billions of dollars in bonds by states and municipalities looking to quickly cash in on the massive 1998 legal settlement with Big Tobacco.

A review by ProPublica of documents from 22 tobacco bond offerings sold by 15 state and local governments shows that bankers routinely bragged about having their way with the agencies that rated their products. The claims were brazen, the documents show, with bankers saying they routinely played one firm against its competitors to win changes to rating methods, jack up a rating or agree to rate longer-term, riskier bonds.

Read on.

Bank of America to pay vision-impaired temp $110,000 to resolve a disability discrimination case

Bank of America will pay $110,000 to a former temporary worker to resolve a disability discrimination case brought by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the federal agency announced.

According to the EEOC’s suit, Bank of America violated the Americans with Disabilities Act when it failed to accommodate a visually impaired data entry worker and instead terminated his temporary assignment at one of the bank’s branches in downtown Chicago after one day on the job.

In addition to monetary relief for the former employee, the decree includes an injunction requiring the bank provide reasonable accommodations to temporary and contingent workers at its branches throughout Illinois, provides for training about the ADA’s requirements and imposes recordkeeping and reporting requirements for the duration of the decree.

The EEOC filed the suit in 2011, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. US District Judge Milton Shadur entered the decree resolving the suit Dec. 18.

– See more at: http://www.staffingindustry.com/Research-Publications/Daily-News/Bank-of-America-to-pay-vision-impaired-temp-110-000-32611#sthash.oqBBglIM.dpuf