Monthly Archives: February 2015

NJ Gov. Chris Christie Settles ExxonMobil Case After Oil Giant Gave RGA Big Cash

Before Gov. Chris Christie’s administration abruptly settled long-running state environmental litigation against ExxonMobil for far less than originally expected, the oil behemoth donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to a Republican group that Christie ran and that financed his election campaigns. Additionally, the Christie administration office that engineered the settlement had been run by a former Exxon lawyer.

When the case was initiated in 2004, when Democrat James McGreevey was governor, New Jersey sought $8.9 billion in damages in a suit alleging that ExxonMobil damaged more than 1,500 acres of waterfront and meadows. Yet, according to documents reported on by the New York Times on Friday, the Christie administration is settling the suit for just $250 million. Based on ExxonMobil’s 2014 revenue of $411.9 billion, it will take the company roughly 5 hours to generate the sales to pay out the settlement.

Federal records show that the reduction, which represents a huge gift to ExxonMobil, follows a wave of campaign cash from the company to the Christie-run Republican Governors Association.

Since Christie’s first run for governor in 2009, ExxonMobil has donated more than $1.9 million to the group, according to data compiled by PoliticalMoneyLine.com. That includes $79,000 during Christie’s 2009 campaign and $200,000 during his re-election campaign in 2013. It also includes $500,000 when he chaired the organization during the 2014 election cycle.

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Ocwen Comments on Notice From Trustee

ATLANTA, Feb. 27, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Ocwen Financial Corporation (NYSE:OCN), a leading financial services holding company, today commented that on February 24, 2015 Ocwen received notice from a trustee that a majority of Certificateholders of two Trusts had voted to terminate Ocwen as Servicer following an event of default triggered when Ocwen’s servicer ratings were downgraded in October 2014. These two Pooling and Servicing Agreements (“PSAs”) represent $260 million of unpaid principal balance or 0.07% of Ocwen’s overall servicing portfolio and $0.8 million in MSR value.

These two PSAs were part of the 119 transactions referenced in our February 5, 2015 Form 8-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Company believes the financial impact of these transfers will be immaterial to Ocwen’s overall financial condition.

“We regret the decision made by this particular group of investors who have been critical of Ocwen’s superior loan modification results, but are pleased that in the majority of the affected securities investors are keeping Ocwen as their servicer,” commented Ron Faris, President and CEO of Ocwen. “We were also gratified to see reports earlier this week by Morgan Stanley and reported by Bloomberg confirming Ocwen has been more effective at keeping borrowers in their homes, and it is unlikely that investors will replace Ocwen in the small percentage of cases where the servicer ratings have fallen below the minimum criteria set forth in certain PSAs.”

– See more at: http://globenewswire.com/news-release/2015/02/27/710989/10122439/en/Ocwen-Comments-on-Notice-From-Trustee.html#sthash.Sp7U9Ilz.dpuf

Mortgage Mess: Broker falsifies documents forcing clients into foreclosure

Mitra Erami v. JPMorgan Chase Bank NA

Chase failed to pay assistant branch managers for overtime, or to provide them with meal and rest breaks, a class claims.

Source: Courthouse News

Victims of L.A. street gangs sued HSBC Bank in federal RICO class action, claims the bank is partly responsible because it accepts and launders money for the gangsters

LOS ANGELES (CN) – Victims of L.A. street gangs sued HSBC Bank in a federal RICO class action, claiming the bank is partly responsible because it accepts and launders money for the gangsters, who are associated with the Sinaloa drug cartel.
Four named plaintiffs sued the bank on Feb. 25, claiming that the bank “conspired to wrongfully take plaintiffs’ property, including money, hide its source through money laundering and use the money to fund the Sinaloa drug cartel.”
They claim that HSBC acknowledged its money laundering in a 2012 deferred-prosecution agreement with the federal government. Prosecutors identified more than 3,000 HSBC accounts used to launder money for the Sinaloa cartel, the plaintiffs say, citing a July 17, 2012 hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

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City of Los Angeles Files State Court Cases Against Four Banks

LOS ANGELES (CN) – City of Los Angeles on Friday filed predatory lending clams against four major banks in state court.
Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer last year sued Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Citigroup. http://www.courthousenews.com/2013/12/09/63550.htm His federal lawsuit claimed that predatory lending in poor, minority communities reduced city property tax revenue and left taxpayers on the hook for maintenance of foreclosed homes. Estimated damages to the city totaled $1 billion, the filings claimed.

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Credit Suisse says lifts provisions in U.S. mortgage securities case

Credit Suisse (>> Credit Suisse Group AG) said on Friday it would put aside more funds for a U.S. probe and other litigation about whether the Swiss bank deceived investors in risky mortgage-backed securities it had issued in the run-up to the financial crisis.

The Zurich lender’s surprise move to tack on 277 million Swiss francs ($290.66 million) to legal reserves and revise fourth-quarter results of just two weeks ago comes one day after U.S. rival Morgan Stanley (>> Morgan Stanley) said it expected to pay $2.6 billion to resolve potential claims stemming from its sale of mortgage bonds before the financial crisis.

“Developments in industry-wide litigation and investigations in the United States relating to mortgages have resulted in an increase in provisions relating to this issue subsequent to the disclosure of the bank’s preliminary 2014 results,” Credit Suisse said in a statement late on Friday, without elaborating.

The U.S. government’s examination of financial crisis-era mortgage abuses is now Credit Suisse’s biggest legal worry, after it last year set aside a years-long U.S. probe into its dealings with Americans evading taxes by pleading guilty to a criminal charge and agreeing to pay more than $2.5 billion in penalties.

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New York’s Top Financial Cop And Head Prosecutor Vie With Feds To Look Tough On Banks

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Top financial regulators and prosecutors in New York are making clear that oversight of big banks must be tougher. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Financial Services Superintendent Benjamin Lawsky on Wednesday separately announced initiatives to increase supervision of banks and boost their presence on the Securities and Exchange Commission’s beat.

In a speech at Columbia Law School, Lawsky offered proposals that would sharply increase liability in wrongdoing for executives at financial firms. The top financial regulator in the state, Lawsky wants bank officials to personally attest to their firm’s protections against money laundering – putting individual CEOs on the hook if dirty cash flows through.

And in the wake of major cyberattacks, including a breach at JPMorgan that compromised the data of 80 million clients, Lawsky would have banks secure third-party assurances that their networks are secure.

Lawsky isn’t just fretting about customer privacy, though. “We are concerned that within the next decade,” he said, “we will experience an Armageddon-type cyber event that causes a significant disruption in the financial system for a period of time.” His worries echo a growing chorus of Wall Street watchdogs pointing to the systemic risks posed by financial cyberattacks.

Other proposals include surprise audits of banks’ transaction monitoring protocols, which prevent against money laundering, and regular assessments of their cybersecurity systems.

Also on Wednesday, state Attorney General Schneiderman proposed that the state reward whistleblowers and extend them greater protections. Intending to make the New York “the gold standard for states seeking to expose and hold individuals accountable for financial crimes,” Schneiderman asked for a state law that would dole out cash to those who raise red flags over securities fraud.

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Keller Rohrback L.L.P. Investigates Ocwen Class Action Re: Unfair Service Fees

SEATTLE, Feb 27, 2015 (BUSINESS WIRE) — Attorney AdvertisingKeller Rohrback L.L.P. is investigating Ocwen Financial Corporation and Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC (“Ocwen” or “the Company”) (NYSE:OCN) regarding unfair and excessive fees charged to homeowners in a recently filed class action. These fees are often imposed for “default-related services,” and may show up on your fee statement as “attorneys’ fees” (even if you’ve never spoken to or dealt with an attorney), “inspection fees” (for an inspection that consists of someone driving by your home), “preservation” fees (even though your house is just fine), or “taxes” or “insurance” (though no taxes are owed and no insurance is necessary). The Ocwen complaint alleged that these default services are often performed by Ocwen-affiliated companies such as Altisource Portfolio Solutions S.A. A recently filed class action complaint against Ocwen alleges that Altisource and other affiliated companies inflate the fees for those services which are then passed on to homeowners.

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Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf awarded $1 million in stock

Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf received a bonus of $1 million in restricted stock as part of his 2014 compensation, the bank said in a securities filingThursday.

Stumpf was awarded the 18,061 shares on Tuesday, when they closed at $55.37 each. The award matched the $1 million value of the 21,702 shares Stumpf was awarded a year ago.

More details on Stumpf’s total compensation for 2014, including any cash bonuses and additional stock he might receive, will be reported in the bank’s annual proxy filing, which is usually released in March. Compensation for the bank’s other top executives will also be disclosed in the proxy filing.