Daily Archives: December 3, 2016

Wells Fargo reduces funding it contributes medical accounts from retirees

Wells Fargo is scaling back a key medical benefit for retirees in a move upsetting some former employees who will soon see their health care subsidies slashed.

The San Francisco-based bank is planning to reduce the funding it contributes to medical accounts from which retirees receive reimbursements for health care expenses. Some affected employees and their dependents say it will cut their subsidies by hundreds of dollars a year, making it tougher to cover medical costs.

“That was supposed to pay for medical for me and my spouse for the rest of our lives,” said Donna Hargett, who worked for Charlotte-based First Union, a predecessor bank of Wells Fargo. Hargett, 64, said her family’s annual allowance will drop from $1,320 to $900 after the change takes effect Jan. 1.

“Twenty-something years of service, and I end up with $900 bucks,” she said. “I just think it’s wrong.”

Bowing down: Wells Fargo separates CEO and chair jobs

It’s about time!

Wells Fargo has changed its bylaws to split the roles of CEO and chairman as the bank continues to cope with the fallout from a scandal over its sales policies.

In an apparent bow to pressure by institutional shareholders, Wells Fargo on Thursday announced the separation and said the change also requires its board chair and vice chair to be independent directors.

Read on.

You Can’t Sue Wells Fargo for Fraud—Unless This New Bill Goes Through

New legislation aims to help consumers sue Wells Fargo for secretly opening up to 2 million accounts without customers’ authorization.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau fined the bank $185 million in September for the deceptive behavior, but the potentially thousands of affected Wells Fargo customers could not sue the bank over the damage caused. Instead, they are bound by mandatory arbitration clauses hidden in the fine print of their customer agreements.

Read on.

First Look: New Linda Tirelli Suit Against Bank of America

LIBERTY ROAD MEDIA

Attorney Linda Tirelli, a rockstar in the arena of foreclosure defense, has just filed an adversarial bankruptcy suit in the Southern District of New York naming the following as defendants: Bank of America, Nationstar, U.S. Bank, and Recontrust. As many former and soon-to-be-former homeowners know, this group is a veritable rogue’s gallery of home/wealth/livelihood/sanity thieves and scam artists.  The fact that Tirelli is going after this financial mafia family is heartening, because Tirelli gets results.

So I read through her complaint, filed on November 29, 2016.  You can read it here.  What follows are my first impressions and sections of the complaint that stood out to me.

The Remedies

I am thrilled to see that Tirelli is going for the jugular with this complaint, and not shying away from what her client (and millions of people who are or have been in the same situation) truly deserves.  Namely…

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Deutsche Bank to pay $60 million to settle U.S. gold price-fixing case

Deutsche Bank AG has agreed to pay $60 million to settle private U.S. antitrust litigation by traders and other investors who accused the German bank of conspiring to manipulate gold prices at their expense.

The preliminary settlement was filed on Friday with the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, and requires a judge’s approval.

Deutsche Bank denied wrongdoing. The bank in October agreed to pay $38 million to settle similar litigation over alleged silver price manipulation.

Amanda Williams, a spokeswoman for the bank, declined to comment. Lawyers for the plaintiffs did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The case is one of many in the Manhattan court in which investors accused banks of conspiring to rig rates and prices in financial and commodities markets.

Read on.

United Technologies : Donald Trump Had Investments in Carrier Corp.’s Parent

WASHINGTON — President-elect Donald Trump in recent years has had an investment of as much as $250,000 in the parent of the company he pushed to shelve plans to move its Indianapolis factory to Mexico.

Mr. Trump in 2014 owned an investment between $100,001 and $250,000 in United Technologies Corp., according to financial disclosure forms filed during the presidential campaign. It couldn’t be learned whether he still had a financial investment in the company because disclosure forms are filed only annually. Mr. Trump’s 2015 disclosure is the most recent one available and was filed in May 2016.

The Trump transition team didn’t respond to requests for comment.

His 2015 form showed he owned one or more corporate bonds issued by United Technologies. The bond investment, held in a brokerage account through a Deutsche Bank AG unit, paid between $2,501 and $5,000 in interest for the year, the form said, but it valued the investment at between nothing and $1,000. His 2014 financial form for 2014 indicated he held an investment in United Technologies in the same account that paid interest in the same range, with a value between $100,001 and $250,000.

Read on.

Donald Trump names JPMorgan, Blackstone CEOs to advisory board

Forum comprised of 16 CEOs

President-elect Donald Trump’s latest selection of leaders involves a new idea: the President’s Strategic and Policy Forum.

The group is comprised of 16 CEOs, which includes Stephen Schwarzman, chairman, CEO, and Co-Founder of Blackstone, and Jamie Dimon, chairman and CEO ofJPMorgan Chase. Schwarzman will also be the Forum chairman.

Read on.

Trump’s Defense Secretary pick is a current board member at Theranos!

cjones11142016

Donald Trump believes that the government can closely monitor every individual entering the country to determine their likelihood of participating in a terrorist attack. He calls it “extreme vetting.” So surely his handpicked choices for the cabinet were vetted with that level of deep scrutiny, so no surprises would ensue after the selection.

Yet Trump’s choice for defense secretary, retired Marine Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis (chosen, one assumes, for the nickname), has a very damaging association hiding in plain sight in his record—his current position on the board of directors of quack medical company Theranos.

< a href=”https://www.thenation.com/article/donald-trump-just-hired-a-current-theranos-board-member-to-run-the-pentagon/”>Read on.

Trump voter lost home to OneWest

WASHINGTON (AP) — When Donald Trump named his Treasury secretary, Teena Colebrook felt her heart sink.

She had voted for the president-elect on the belief that he would knock the moneyed elites from their perch in Washington. And she knew Trump’s pick for Treasury — Steven Mnuchin — all too well.

OneWest, a bank formerly owned by a group of investors headed by Mnuchin, had foreclosed on her Los Angeles-area home in the aftermath of the Great Recession, stripping her of the two units she rented as a primary source of income.

“I just wish that I had not voted,” said Colebrook, 59. “I have no faith in our government anymore at all. They all promise you the world at the end of a stick and take it away once they get in.”

Less than a month after his presidential win, Trump’s populist appeal has started to clash with a Cabinet of billionaires and millionaires that he believes can energize economic growth.

The prospect of Mnuchin leading the Treasury Department drew plaudits from many in the financial sector. A former Goldman Sachs executive who pivoted in the early 2000s to hedge fund management and movie production, he seemed an ideal emissary to Wall Street.

When asked Wednesday about his credentials to be Treasury secretary, Mnuchin emphasized his time running OneWest — which not only foreclosed on Colebrook but also on thousands of others in the aftermath of the housing crisis caused by subprime mortgages.

“What I’ve really been focused on is being a regional banker for the last eight years,” Mnuchin said. “I know what it takes to make sure that we can make loans to small and midmarket companies and that’s going to be our big focus, making sure we scale back regulation so that we make sure the banks are lending.”

But the prospect of Mnuchin leading the Treasury Department prompted Colebrook and other OneWest borrowers who say they unfairly faced foreclosure to contact The Associated Press. Colebrook wishes she could meet with Trump to explain why she feels betrayed by his Cabinet selection after believing that his presidency could restore the balance of power to everyday people.

“He doesn’t want the truth,” she said. “He’s now backing his buddies.”

The Trump transition team has been sensitive to preserving trust with its voters. Senior adviser Kellyanne Conway publicly warned that supporters would feel “betrayed” if former critic Mitt Romney was named secretary of state, for instance.

For Mnuchin, the fundamental problem stems from the Great Recession. His investor group was the sole bidder to take control of the troubled bank IndyMac in 2009. The group struck a deal that left the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation responsible for taking as much as 80 percent of the losses on former IndyMac assets and rebranded the troubled bank as OneWest.

The combination of OneWest’s profitability, government guarantees and foreclosure activities drew the ire of activist groups like the California Reinvestment Coalition. It found the bank to be consistently one of the most difficult to work out loan modifications with even though OneWest never drew a major response from government regulators.

By June of 2014, five years after taking over OneWest, Mnuchin sold the bank for $3.4 billion at a tremendous profit.

Colebrook said she learned the hard way about OneWest’s tactics, after the regional bank acquired her home lender, First Federal Bank of California, in late 2009.

In 1998, she bought a triplex for $248,000 in Hawthorne, California, not too far from Los Angeles International Airport.

She rented out two of the units and lived in the third. Colebrook refinanced her mortgage in order to renovate the property and help buy additional homes to generate rental income.

By the time the financial crisis struck in 2008, she had an interest-only mortgage on the triplex known as a “pick-a-payment” loan. Her monthly payments ran as high as $2,000 and only covered the interest on the debt. Then she got ensnarled in the economic downturn.

“All my tenants lost their jobs in the crash,” Colebrook said. “They couldn’t pay. It was a knock-on effect.”

Over five years, she tried unsuccessfully to adjust her loan with OneWest through the Treasury Department’s Home Affordable Modification Program. But she said that One West Bank lost paperwork, provided conflicting statements about ownership of the loan and fees and submitted charges that were unverified and caused her loan balance to balloon. By the time she lost her home in foreclosure in April 2015, the payoff balance totaled $517,662.

Colebrook said she is still challenging the foreclosure in court.

She now lives with her boyfriend in the small California city of San Luis Obispo. She volunteers at a homeless shelter, knowing that she could just as easily have ended up there.

“I cook at the homeless shelter because there but the grace of God go I.”

Read on.