Daily Archives: May 25, 2016

U.S. Probes Real-Estate Firm With Ties to Sen. Bob Corker

WASHINGTON—A real-estate firm that has been a favored investment of Tennessee Republican Sen. Bob Corker is under investigation by federal law-enforcement officials for alleged accounting fraud, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Securities and Exchange Commission are focusing their examination of CBL & Associates Properties Inc. on whether officials at the Chattanooga, Tenn., company falsified information on financial statements to banks when applying for financing arrangements, the people said. Law-enforcement officials have talked to former CBL employees who allege the company inflated its rental income and its properties’ occupancy rates when reporting those figures to banks, the people said.

The FBI and SEC officials have also separately asked questions about the relationship between the company and Mr. Corker, who is close with senior executives at the firm and has made millions of dollars in profits trading the company’s stock in recent years. Authorities don’t believe that Mr. Corker was involved in the company’s potential accounting issues, but they are interested in learning more about the senator’s trading in CBL’s stock, the people said.

They have found no evidence to suggest that Mr. Corker has committed wrongdoing.

Read on.

Panama Papers law firm quits its Nevada customers

Two secretary of state audits found contact information missing

M.F. Corporate Services resigns as agent for 1,024 entities

Nevada company tied to a corruption probe in Brazil

The company at the heart of the Panama Papers scandal has resigned abruptly as the representative of 1,024 companies it administered in the state of Nevada.

The resignation by the Nevada affiliate of Mossack Fonseca came more than a month after a report by McClatchy that showed how the firm helped Brazilians, Russians and others camouflage assets from authorities in their home countries.

After two investigations in April, the office of Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske fined the firm $10,000 on May 20, the maximum allowed under Nevada law.

M.F. Corporate Services (Nevada) Limited’s decision to step away from its registered agent role for 1,024 companies was announced Monday on the secretary of state’s website.

In an interview, Nevada Deputy Secretary of State Gail Anderson said M.F. Corporate Services (Nevada) failed to maintain a name and address of a contact person for all of the shell companies it administered in the state.

“There was an initial visit to the office with a sampling of records, things identified, and under Nevada law they had 10 days to make corrections,” said Anderson.

Donald Trump signed off deal designed to deprive US of tens of millions of dollars in tax

ExclusiveDonald Trump signed off on a controversial business deal that was designed to deprive the US Government of tens of millions of dollars in tax, the Telegraph can disclose.

The billionaire approved a $50 million investment in a company – only for the deal to be rewritten several weeks later as a ‘loan’.

Experts say that the effect of this move was to skirt vast tax liabilities, and court papers seen by the Telegraph allege that the deal amounted to fraud.

Independent tax accountants and lawyers said that the documents Mr Trump signed – copies of which were obtained by this newspaper as part of a three-month investigation – contained “red flags” indicating the deal was irregular.

But the Republican presumptive presidential nominee signed nonetheless.

April 2007: Deal described simply as a “profit participation interest”
p. 2
Donald Trump’s signature

Citibank To Pay CFTC $425M Over Benchmark Manipulation

Law360, New York (May 25, 2016, 9:40 AM ET) — The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission said on Wednesday that it has struck two deals with Citibank NA and affiliates totaling $425 million to end allegations that the bank manipulated the Japanese and British interbank offered rates, as well as a global benchmark for interest rate products.

Citibank and its Japanese affiliates will pay $175 million to settle CFTC claims that the bank tweaked LIBOR submissions based on internal concerns. Citibank will also pay $250 million in civil fines to settle other allegations. (Credit: AP) The…

Source: Law360

Exxon shareholders OK measure that could put climate expert on board

Voters at Exxon Mobil Corp’s annual meeting on Wednesday approved a measure to let minority shareholders nominate outsiders for seats on the company’s board, meaning a climate activist could eventually become a director at the oil giant.

The so-called proxy access measure, which passed last year at fellow U.S. major Chevron Corp, was the only one of 11 shareholder proposals related to climate change to pass at annual meetings held on Wednesday by both companies.

This year’s meetings were arguably the tensest ever, coming on the heels of the Paris accord to curb fossil fuel emissions and as New York’s attorney general investigates Exxon for allegedly misleading the public about climate change risks. Exxon has complained of being unfairly targeted.

Read on.

Ocwen cleared of wrongdoing in multi-billion dollar mortgage bond fight

Early in 2015, a group of mortgage bond investors that reportedly includedBlackRockMetLife, and Pimco accused Ocwen Financial of violating its duties as a mortgage servicer by failing to properly collect payments on $82 billion of home loans and accused Ocwen of engaging in “imprudent and improper servicing practices.”

The investors, represented by the law firm of Gibbs & Bruns, went on to accuse Ocwen of costing them $26 billion, stating that if other mortgage servicers provided the services done by Ocwen for the residential mortgage-backed securities trusts in question, the investors would have received approximately $26 billion more in cash flows.

But now, after a yearlong independent investigation initiated by Wells Fargo, the deals’ master servicer, found no evidence of the litany of accusations made by Gibbs & Bruns on behalf of the investors, Ocwen is off the hook.

OCC terminates Wells Fargo’s mortgage servicing restrictions

And $70 million is a drop in the bucket for Wells Fargo..

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency on Wednesday finally lifted its mortgage servicing restrictions on Wells Fargo now that the bank is in compliance with the requirements of the Independent Foreclosure Review.

But Wells Fargo didn’t come out of this unscathed and must pay a $70 million civil money penalty for previous violations of the order, according to the OCC.

“We are pleased that the OCC has validated the effectiveness of the significant changes we have made to our mortgage servicing operations and confirmed our release from the Consent Order.  Our team worked very hard to complete the requirements of the original Consent Order and the amendments, and continues to provide the best possible service to our customers,” Tom Goyda, a spokesperson for Wells Fargo said.

While the OCC said it originally issued orders in April 2011 and amended the orders in February 2013, it amended the orders again in June 2015.

The OCC revised Wells Fargo’s restrictions, along with JPMorgan Chase’s and four other banks that also had restrictions placed on them due to their failure to comply with requirements of the Independent Foreclosure Review.

At the time, Wells Fargo and HSBC were dealt the hardest blow by the OCC and were prohibited from:

  • Acquiring of mortgage servicing rights until the consent order is terminated
  • New contracts to perform mortgage servicing prohibited until the consent order is terminated
  • New offshoring of mortgage servicing activity until the consent order is terminated

Click this chart for a more in-depth outline of the restrictions placed on each bank.


Read on.