Daily Archives: June 3, 2016

NYDFS reportedly probing dozens of online lenders

From Reuters:

The New York Department of Financial Services sent the letter to San Francisco-based Prosper, the second largest online lender, as well as to Avant, Funding Circle, Upstart and others, according to the person, who was not authorized to publicly discuss the matter. Those companies could not be immediately reached for comment.

The department, in the letter, demanded “immediate compliance” with New York licensing requirements for debt collection, money transmission and mortgage lending activities. Companies that do not believe they require New York licenses must respond with information, such as descriptions of products and services the online lenders make available to New Yorkers, as well as cash flow charts, according to the letter dated Tuesday.

Letting ‘Wall Street’ Walk

Legal double standards are the norm in the U.S. – no jail for law-flouting Wall Street bankers but mass incarceration for average citizens, especially minorities, who get caught up in the prison-industrial-complex, as Michael Brenner describes.

By Michael Brenner

Illicit financial behavior has been decriminalized in the United States – for all practical purposes. Despite the revelations of massive misconduct by banks and other financial services businesses, criminal investigations are rare, indictments exceptional and guilty judgments extraordinary.

Most potentially culpable actions are overlooked by authorities, slighted, reduced from criminal to civil status when pursued, individuals evade penalties much less punishment, and the appeals courts take extreme liberties in exonerating culprits when and if the odd conviction reaches them.

The last mentioned are establishing new frontiers in the formulation of ingeniously sophistic arguments to justify letting financial malefactors off the hook. As some wit suggests, all 32 or so judicial inventions should be assembled in a legal code called the Goldman Variations.

Our elected officials, our regulators, our politicos and the media have come to accept this as the natural order of things. Business Sections of newspapers, likeThe New York Times, read like the gazette for the world of organized crime in its heyday when the five Mafia families were on top of their game. (substitute Goldman Sachs, Chase Morgan, Bank of America, CITI, Wells Fargo). As for the Wall Street Journal and the legion of business magazines, they blend features of VARIETY andOsservatore Romano.

The reasons for this phenomenon are multiple: the rule of money in our politics; the neutering of regulatory bodies by the appointment of business friendly officers in symbiotic relationships with former or prospective employers; a wider culture in which the cult of wealth pervades all; and the timidity of a political class that defers to the power centers who enjoy rank, status and respect.

Read on.

Why did Wells Fargo fire woman who had been a man? Discrimination lawsuit settled

Wells Fargo and a former employee settled the worker’s lawsuit alleging she was wrongfully fired because of her decision to transition from a man to a woman.

In her Los Angeles Superior Court complaint filed last July 14, Marco “Marlo Kaitlin” Gallegosalleged discrimination, hostile work environment harassment, retaliation, wrongful termination and both intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress. She sought unspecified damages.

But Wells Fargo denied any wrongdoing, stressing its longstanding support for the LGBT community.

“Wells Fargo’s strong commitment and service to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community dates back over 25 years,” a statement read. “At Wells Fargo, we believe that discrimination of any kind and against any  group is wrong. The claims in this case are wholly inconsistent with how Wells Fargo treats its team members.”

Despite the legal disagreement, attorneys for Gallegos and the bank have now told Judge William Fahey that the case has been resolved. No terms were divulged.

Read on.

Bank of America puts single mom through hell after she tries to access money from death lawsuit

Seriously, the Bank of America employees need to retake the Bank Secrecy Act and money laundering classes. This is another embarrassment to Bank of America and their hiring of employees. The amount that woman was wired from an insurance settlement and monies withdrew over several days can trigger a bank freeze on the account due to suspicious activities. Unfortunately, the act is under the Patriot Act of 2001. And the woman has the right to know why her account was being frozen. 

A Detroit woman is accusing Bank of America of discrimination after they placed a hold on money she received as part of an insurance settlement over the death of her brother — and then accused her of fraud.

Christina Anderson, a single mother of four, told Fox News 2 Detroit that her younger brother recently died and she received $50,000 as part of insurance settlement that was wired directly to her account with Bank of America on May 20.

According to Anderson, the bank told her there was an initial two-hour hold on the money and afterwards she was free to draw against it, which she did over the course of several days by making two substantial withdrawals.

“I drew $8,000; drew $5,000. No questions. ‘Just swipe your card and enter your pin, ma’am,’” she recounted.

But after she totaled her car on May 24 and went to get another $5,000 to buy a new one so she could get to work, she was denied by a bank teller who questioned where she got the money.

“The guy behind the counter started asking me where did I get the money from, and a bunch of questions” she recalled. “And I told him, I feel that’s none of his business, so I’m going to go to another branch where I feel more comfortable.”

According to Anderson, she went to a different Bank of America branch to withdraw the money, only to be told that her account had been frozen for fraud, causing her to angrily accuse an employee of the bank of discrimination.

“‘I feel like you guys are discriminating against me; is it because I’m black?’ And then … she told me to leave out the back because I was upset,” Anderson claims she told the bank staffer. “Yes, I was [upset]. I was mad because these are my funds.  Why can’t I receive my funds?”

Anderson said the bank has kept her in the dark and her funds unavailable since the confrontation, with the bank issuing a statement saying they are still investigating her situation.

Read on.

Elizabeth Warren Slams Donald Trump’s “Huge Conflicts of Interest”loans from Deutsche Bank

Earlier this week, Mother Jones reported that Donald Trump’s loans from the German-based Deutsche Bank—totaling at least $100 million and possibly much more—would pose a significant conflict of interest, should Trump, the GOP’s presumptive nominee, become president. After all, the bank was recently caught manipulating markets around the world (and had to pay $2.5 billion in fines), and it has tried to evade US laws aimed at curtailing risky financial shenanigans and has attempted to influence the US government via lobbying.

Richard Painter, an attorney who teaches at the University of Minnesota and who was the chief ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush from 2005 to 2007, noted that Trump’s relationship with the overseas financial giant was disturbing: “Having a president who owes a lot of money to banks, particularly when it’s on negotiable terms—it puts them at the mercy of the banks and the banks are at the mercy of regulators.” He added, “That is a potentially very troublesome business model for someone in public office.”

In response to the article, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) says Trump’s dealings with Deutsche Bank—and his connections with other major financial institutions—could indeed pose trouble, were he to win the White House. In a statement toMother Jones, the senator slammed Trump’s relationship with the bank:

The job of the President is to enforce the law fairly. If a serial lawbreaker like Deutsche Bank is caught manipulating markets again, how would Trump hold it accountable knowing that the bank had the power to pull the plug on his own businesses? That’s a question that should worry every American. These financial entanglements—along with many of his other ongoing business concerns and arrangements—present huge conflicts of interest.

Read on.

MacDraw v. CIT Financial: A reminder to Trump if he tried to remove Judge Gonzolo Curiel

Law Newz:

In addition, if Trump’s lawyers were to file a motion for recusal, there is a possibility they could be sanctioned. Lawyers in the case,MacDraw v. CIT Financial, tried to do just that. The attorneys claimed that federal Judge Denny Chin should be recused because he was appointed by the “Clinton Administration” and because of his race and ethnicity. Judge Chin imposed sanctions, and the United States Court of Appeals Second Circuit upheld them on appeal.

“Judge Chin’s imposition of sanctions was well within his discretion,” the circuit judges wrote.

Latest and powerful Bernie Sanders poverty and inequality ad: Meet Chris Wilson

This is a very powerful and inspiring Bernie Sanders ad. And this is not about politics, but about a man named Chris Wilson, an African-American, who lived in poverty, incarcerated, Give a second chance in life, and got his life back on track to inspire others. Chris’ story and many others are much needed to be told in the media. From Inquisitr:

Bernie’s latest ad features the story of Chris Wilson, a young black man whose life went off the rails due to poverty and inequality, landing him in prison with a natural life sentence, but he got it back on track by using what he calls “positive delusion,” creating an outrageously ambitious “master plan” and using every opportunity he had in jail to further his education.

Trump University: A Scam, but a Familiar One

Certainly the media has not mention Romney’s financial connected to deceptive for-rofit education practices. Truthout:

And, indeed, the previous Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, is financially connected to similar deceptive for-profit education practices.

As the 2012 GOP nomination contest neared the critical Iowa caucuses, Romney was asked by the Ames Tribune’s editorial board what he planned to do about higher education. Romney’s response was crystal-clear: He liked for-profit colleges, including the University of Phoenix, and especially a Florida school called Full Sail University, which, he said, knew how to “hold down the cost of their education.”

In fact, Full Sail only knew how to hold down the cost of education for its owners; for students, it was the third most expensive college in America.

It also turned out that Full Sail’s owners, the principals of a private equity firm called TA Associates, were among Romney’s top donors. In praising Full Sail, Romney never mentioned that TA executives had contributed heavily to his campaign effort.

Nor did Romney disclose that he was actually in business with them. Romney’s son Tagg and 2012 campaign finance director Spencer Zwick had launched the private equity fund Solamere Capital in 2008 with a $10 million investment from Mitt Romney. In June 2012, the Romney campaign held a retreat in Park City, Utah, for about 200 wealthy donors. Remarkably, right outside the retreat, Solamere Capital held its own investor lunch meeting. In March 2013, following his defeat in the presidential election, Romney took on a more formal role at Solamere, becoming chairman of the executive committee.

Solamere describes itself as a “fund of funds” that allows its privileged investors to buy into high-end private equity firms. TA Associates is one of the firms that Solamere Capital has offered to its clients for investment, according to a prospectus sent to potential investors and obtained by the Boston Globe in 2011.

Another for-profit college owned by TA Associates is Vatterott College, acquired in 2009.

In 2014, a Missouri appeals court upheld a jury verdict against Vatterott for deceiving a single mom, Jennifer Kerr. A jury in Jackson County, MO, had awarded Kerr $27,676 in actual damages and $13 million in punitive damages; the trial judge cut the punitive award to about $2 million because state law caps these awards.

Kerr, from Lee’s Summit, Missouri, saw Vatterott’s TV ads and visited the campus in 2009 to pursue her dream of becoming a nurse. A Vatterott recruiter told Kerr that the school didn’t have a nursing program, but it did offer a medical assistant’s degree. With that credential, the recruiter said, Kerr could make $15 to $17 an hour, and her Vatterott credits would transfer to a nursing program and put her on the “fast track” to being a nurse.

But after signing for more than $27,000 in loans and being in the program for over a year, Kerr discovered that her program wasn’t a medical assistant program at all — it was a medical office assistant program. You might not need college for that. Vatterott staff then told her that a medical assistant’s degree would require more classes and another $10,000.

Jennifer Kerr was not the first student to be deceived by Vatterott College.

The 2010-2012 comprehensive investigation of the for-profit college industry by then-Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) obtained internal training documents from Vatterott that seemed to instruct recruiters to use exploitative tactics: “We deal with people that live in the moment and for the moment. Their decision to start, stay in school or quit school is based more on emotion than logic. Pain is the greater motivator in the short term.” Another Vatterott document described the target market for recruiters: “We serve the UN-DER world, Unemployed, Underpaid, Unsatisfied, Unskilled, Unprepared, Unsupported, Unmotivated, Unhappy, Underserved!”

After Michael Brown was shot to death by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, it was often reported that the young man was on the verge of attending college. Less well known was the name and type of school that had signed him up and was ready to cash his federal financial aid checks: It was for-profit Vatterott.

Vatterott’s recruiting abuses have led to bad outcomes for enrolled students. The percentage of Vatterott students who default on their student loans within three years of dropping out or graduating has been a very-high 26.6 percent. In 2012, eight of Vatterott’s 39 programs failed all three initial tests of the Obama administration’s “gainful employment” rule, which established bare minimum standards to penalize schools that consistently leave their students with insurmountable debt. Student bulletin boards are full of complaints about the quality of a Vatterott education.

In 2009 and 2010, three top Vatterott executives pleaded guilty to a criminal conspiracy to fraudulently obtain federal student grants and loans for ineligible students in 2005-06 by providing false general equivalency diplomas (GEDs) and doctoring financial aid forms.

Bank of America employee fired after racist Facebook rant, thousands of social media complaints sent to her bosses

After her racist rant, Christine McMullen Lindgren was called out as an employee at Bank of America.

After her racist rant, Christine McMullen Lindgren was called out as an employee at Bank of America.

After a thorough investigation, Bank of America fired the employee on Thursday.

After a thorough investigation, Bank of America fired the employee on Thursday.

A definitely no no… Glad the employee got fired…

A Bank of America employee has lost her job after posting a racist rant on Facebook, sparking a social media firestorm.

In an expletive-laced Facebook post, Christine Mcmullen Lindgren unleashed a load of her hatred online.

“I hate face book for this reason you f—ing n—-rs,” the Atlanta-based personal banker wrote in her comment. “F—ing n—-rs go back to Africa get over your pity party you created this hatred and you own kind that brought you r great great parents over here.”

In her racist rambling — the majority of which was incoherent — Lindgren spewed her anger over having to “pay for” welfare for families that African Americans “can’t afford.”

Minutes after the hateful post, an eagle-eyed Facebook user quickly noticed Lindgren was an employee at Bank of America, through her Facebook profile. Looks like she has a new reason to hate the social network.

Read on.



Report details extensive costs of abandoned, decaying bank-owned properties dragging down neighborhoods –
with $2M stolen directly from New York City taxpayers

NEW YORK, NY— Senators Jeff Klein (D-Bronx Westchester) and Diane Savino (D-SI/Brooklyn), stood with victims and housing advocates today to unveil “The Great American Bank Robbery,” a distressing report detailing the multi-million dollar price tag abandoned and vacant properties cost communities throughout New York City. Joined by foreclosure and legal advocates, they called for a two-step legislative plan to hold banks accountable while ensuring that decaying properties are maintained.

The investigative report revealed neighborhoods where cars with missing plates rot in driveways, doors lay broken in front yards and garbage is strewn throughout decrepit unlocked houses. These vacant properties abandoned by banks stain entire communities, with $14.2 million lost in home value depreciation. Major banks skipped paying thousands of violations issued to these properties by Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), Department of Buildings (DOB), and Environmental Control Board (ECB), costing New York City taxpayers $2 million in unpaid fines.

Although current law requires banks to maintain foreclosed properties that they currently own, as of 2015, 200 bank-owned properties remained in the outer boroughs, with the majority failing to comply with New York State law. The report found that these abandoned properties had accumulated over $2 million in nearly 1,800 unpaid violations, while they cost another $14.4 million in depreciating home values. Queens County residents suffered the most, accounting for $7.4 million dollars in house price value depreciation.

Read on.