Monthly Archives: April 2017

Government Has Allowed Corporations to Be More Powerful Than the State


To what degree do corporations exceed the power of many states today?

The corporation has become more powerful than the state because the state has allowed it to happen. Over decades, by both Democrats and Republicans, unaccountability has become normalised, barely opposed by politicians or the media class. In Disaster Capitalism, I investigate the role of Western and indigenous private contractors in Afghanistan since 2001. They have left a trail of destruction and killed countless civilians. Barely anybody has been held to account, fuelling the insurgency still engulfing the country. President Trump may widen the war there but his chances of success are negligible.

Successive Afghan administrations have done little to prosecute contractor crimes and Washington has pressured Kabul to protect US contractors from legal trouble. Meanwhile, Afghan civilians are killed and maimed and anger grows.

Perhaps the most obvious, contemporary example of unhealthily powerful corporations, allowed and encouraged by Western governments, are tech firms, such as Apple, Microsoft and Google, often paying little or no tax in various jurisdictions. This is justified as allowing enterprise to thrive and employment to be created but these multinational corporations get away with murder because there’s little domestic political pressure or global accountability architecture to change it.

Meet the 61-year-old man who was dragged out of Wells Fargo’s annual meeting

Wells Fargo’s annual shareholders meeting started off peacefully Tuesday, until Bruce Marks spotted his moment.

Marks stood up to interrupt the meeting about half an hour in, yelling that board members individually should explain “what they knew” about the San Francisco-based bank’s sales scandal “and when they knew it.” His outburst, which immediately followed the roll call of all 15 board members in the room, led nine minutes later to security guards dragging him out the meeting held in a Florida hotel.

For Marks, CEO of a Boston nonprofit that helps homeowners struggling to make mortgage payments, it was his latest confrontation with a large U.S. bank. As head of Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America, which he founded in the 1980s and has Charlotte offices, Marks has long been known as a flamethrower toward financial firms.

Over the years, the 61-year-old has taken on banks when, for example, he’s felt they weren’t lending enough to minority communities. During the financial crisis, NACA once scattered furniture on the lawn of a mortgage investor in Connecticut to protest the loss of homes to foreclosure. NACA also once attempted “an amphibious assault” with rafts on a waterfront home of JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon during the crisis.

Charlotte immigrant advocates taking fight to doors of Bank of America

The grassroots fight to shield Mecklenburg County’s estimated 54,000 undocumented immigrants from deportation takes a new direction Monday morning, with one group of advocates planning a rally outside Bank of America at Trade and Tryon streets.

Organizers of the event say their intent is to raise awareness of the role Charlotte corporations play in support of what they call “President Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda.” Targets in Charlotte include Wells Fargo, Bank of America and other companies involved in the financial industry, said Héctor Vaca of the immigrant advocacy group Action NC.


WEST PALM BEACH, Fla., April 25, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Ocwen Financial Corporation, (NYSE:OCN) (Ocwen or the Company), today announced the filing of two emergency motions requesting immediate court action restraining the cease and desist orders brought by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, Division of Banking and the Commissioner of Banks of the Massachusetts Division of Banks.

As discussed in today’s legal filings, Ocwen believes that the Illinois and Massachusetts orders will cause significant harm to the consumers in those states, including potentially those consumers with pending mortgage applications, and those seeking loan modifications. Under these circumstances, Ocwen has a responsibility to its customers, shareholders, and employees to vigorously defend the Company. The allegations at issue do not arise out of a recent assessment of Ocwen’s business activities. Instead, they come from a 2015 multi-state examination of the Company’s mortgage servicing business by the Multi-State Mortgage Committee (MMC), which covered Ocwen’s activities from January 2013 to February 2015. The MMC concluded its examination well over a year ago, in December 2015.

Over the course of almost two years, Ocwen and the Company’s Board of Directors have been in regular communication with its state mortgage regulators, including those in Illinois and Massachusetts. During those communications, Ocwen shared information regarding the significant operational and programmatic enhancements that the Company has made. For example, as it relates to borrower escrow accounts, one of the primary areas of concern in the orders at issue, independent reviews have consistently confirmed Ocwen’s escrow practices are in line with common industry standards for timeliness and accuracy.

Read on.

‘New York Can Solve That’: Bill Introduced to Require Trump to Release Tax Returns

New York State just made a statement to Congress, the Republican Party, and pretty much the rest of the country: “If you guys aren’t going to handle this disaster, we are.” On April 26, 2017, New York State Assemblyman David Buchwald (D –Westchester) and State Senator Brad Hoylman (D –Manhattan) announced the introduction of A.7462/S.5572A — legislation that, if passed, would require the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance (NYSDTF) to release income tax information and returns for statewide elected officials, including the President of the United States.

Read on.

Suit: Wells Fargo targeted ‘undocumented immigrants’ for accounts

Wow, it gets worse and worse for Wells Fargo…

Wells Fargo branches across the country deliberately targeted “undocumented immigrants” to open savings and checking accounts in order to meet aggressive sales goals, according to court documents.

In sworn declarations obtained by Burlingame plaintiff’s attorney Joseph Cotchett, former employees describe a scheme in which Spanish-speaking colleagues would visit places they knew were frequented by immigrants (including construction sites and a 7-Eleven), drive them to a branch and persuade them to open an account. Some employees would give the immigrants $10 apiece to start an account. The events described in the declaration go back a decade.

“The conduct we have come up with is scandalous,” Cotchett said. “It’s outrageous to think that regulators let the bank get away with this.”

Read on.

Single-Payer Health Care Bill Advances in California

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) – Introduced as a hedge against President Donald Trump’s promise to gut former President Barack Obama’s landmark health care law, a California bill establishing universal state-run health care was approved by a state Senate committee Wednesday.

After more than two hours of debate, the Senate Health Committee cleared the Golden State’s latest attempt at adopting universal health care despite key concerns as to how the system will be paid for.

State Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, told the Senate Health Committee that Senate Bill 562is the best way to extend health care coverage to almost 3 million uninsured residents and that the state must act with urgency.

“With President Trump’s promise to abandon the Affordable Care Act and leave millions without access to care, California is once again called to lead,” Lara said.

The transformative legislation would create a single-payer health care system, provide health insurance to all California residents regardless of immigration status and allow state regulators to negotiate drug costs with the pharmaceutical industry. If it passes – in the face of opposition from powerful business and health insurance groups – the proposal as drafted would take effect January 2018.

Read on.

Ocwen pulls a PHH: Asks court to declare CFPB unconstitutional, requests DOJ help

Ocwen Financial is pulling a PHH.

Just as PHH did recently, Ocwen is playing the unconstitutional card in its fight against the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, asking the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida to declare the CFPB unconstitutional and toss out the CFPB’s lawsuit against the company.

Read on.

Credit rating agencies ding Ocwen over CFPB, state regulator charges

In the wake of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and a growing group of state regulators accusing Ocwen Financial of widespread mortgage servicing issues, several of the big credit ratings agencies announced that each is taking some form of negative action on the nonbank.

Over the last few days, S&P Global Ratings, Moody’s Investors Service, Fitch Ratings, and Morningstar each released updated views of Ocwen, with each agency’s analysts stating that Ocwen’s recent regulatory troubles could have dire long-term consequences.

Read on.

U.S. Bank fined $15 million for bankruptcy filing violations

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency announced Tuesday that it is ordering U.S. Bank National Association to pay a civil penalty of $15 million for what it calls “bankruptcy filing violations” that occurred between 2009 and 2014.

According to the OCC, an investigation found that between 2009 and 2014, U.S. Bank “engaged in filing practices in bankruptcy courts with respect to proofs of claim, payment change notices, and post-petition fees among others that did not comply with bankruptcy rules and constituted unsafe or unsound banking practices.”

More specifically, text from the OCC’s consent order states:

Between 2009 and 2014, the Bank committed various errors related to bankruptcy filings, including: (a) untimely, not filed, or inaccurately filed Proofs of Claim; (b) payment application inaccuracies resulting in overpayments by debtors or trustees; (c) untimely and/or inaccurate Payment Change Notices; (d) untimely, and/or inaccurate Post-Petition Mortgage Fees, Expenses, and Charges; (e) inaccurate Notices of Final Cure; (f) exposure of confidential customer information in court-filed documents; and (g) inconsistent application of the Bank’s fee waiver practices.

Read on.