Category Archives: Uncategorized

‘A way of monetizing poor people’: How private equity firms like Mariner Finance make money offering loans to cash-strapped Americans

Tim Geithner, the former U.S. Treasury head, got into the predatory lending business, the same business that he once opposed…

Washington Post:

The check arrived out of the blue, issued in his name for $1,200, a mailing from a consumer finance company. Stephen Huggins eyed it carefully.

A loan, it said. Smaller type said the interest rate would be 33 percent.

Way too high, Huggins thought. He put it aside.

A week later, though, his 2005 Chevy pickup was in the shop, and he didn’t have enough to pay for the repairs. He needed the truck to get to work, to get the kids to school. So Huggins, a 56-year-old heavy equipment operator in Nashville, fished the check out that day in April 2017 and cashed it.

Within a year, the company, Mariner Finance, sued Huggins for $3,221.27. That included the original $1,200, plus an additional $800 a company representative later persuaded him to take, plus hundreds of dollars in processing fees, insurance and other items, plus interest. It didn’t matter that he’d made a few payments already.

……………………………

Mass-mailing checks to strangers might seem like risky business, but Mariner Finance occupies a fertile niche in the U.S. economy. The company enables some of the nation’s wealthiest investors and investment funds to make money offering high-interest loans to cash-strapped Americans.

Mariner Finance is owned and managed by a $11.2 billion private equity fund controlled by Warburg Pincus, a storied New York firm. The president of Warburg Pincus is Timothy F. Geithner, who, as treasury secretary in the Obama administration, condemned predatory lenders. The firm’s co-chief executives, Charles R. Kaye and Joseph P. Landy, are established figures in New York’s financial world. The minimum investment in the fund is $20 million.

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Civil rights groups bring shocking housing discrimination lawsuit against Bank of America

Civil rights groups are coming together to bring a lawsuit against Bank of America and Safeguard Properties Management for alleged fair housing violations.

The National Fair Housing Alliance, a group of 19 fair housing organizations and two homeowners from Maryland filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the two companies. According to the lawsuit, the defendants intentionally failed to provide routine exterior maintenance and marketing for Bank of America-owned homes in African American and Latino neighborhoods across 37 metro areas.

This was then compared with mostly white neighborhoods, where the bank allegedly consistently maintained its homes.

Read on.

Wells Fargo accused of misconduct again

Wells Fargo is once again being accused of misconduct, this time because it allegedly used complex financial investments to take advantage of mom-and-pop investors.

The Securities and Exchange Commission said on Monday that between 2009 and 2013, Wells Fargo (WFC) reaped large fees by “improperly encouraging” brokerage clients to actively trade high-fee debt products that were intended to be held to maturity.

Wells Fargo Advisors, the bank’s brokerage division, agreed to pay a $4 million penalty over its handling of the products, known as market-linked investments. The bank must also return $930,377 of ill-gotten gains — plus $178,064 of interest.

Read here

Wells Fargo Can’t Duck Federal Class Action Suit

SANTA ANA, Calif. (CN) — A federal judge indicated Monday that he will allow nationwide litigation to go forward accusing Wells Fargo Bank of forcing unneeded auto insurance on borrowers.

However, in a tentative decision, U.S. District Judge Andrew J. Guilford said he may pare back the plaintiffs’ claims dramatically, including racketeering claims.

The litigation — a number of class actions from around the country consolidated in front of Guilford in Southern California — is only one of the problems to beset Wells Fargo since it admitted two years ago having pressured workers to sign customers up to unwanted bank accounts without their knowledge.

The bank has agreed to pay a $142 million settlement to those customers surreptitiously saddled with unwanted accounts. A federal judge in San Francisco approved the settlement May 30.

Read on.

Wells Fargo wasn’t alone – other US banks also opened unauthorized accounts

A federal regulator determined Wells Fargo wasn’t the only U.S. bank that opened accounts not authorized by customers –  but has no plans to identify the institutions publicly.

A review of roughly 40 banks found that as many as 10,000 customer accounts opened during a three-year period lacked customer authorization, Joseph Otting, the U.S. Comptroller of the Currency, testified during congressional hearings this week.

The banks did not have paperwork to show whether customers had authorized approximately 10,000 other accounts, Otting said.

Read on.

Citigroup and Deutsche Bank face ‘criminal cartel’ charges

Citigroup and Deutsche Bank are facing criminal charges in Australia following an investigation into their role in the sale of shares in one the country’s top banks.

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) said Friday that it expected prosecutors to bring “criminal cartel” charges against Citigroup (C), Deutsche Bank (DB) and the Australian bank, ANZ (ANZBY).

The regulator said the charges will concern trading in ANZ’s stock after it issued 81 million new shares worth about 2.5 billion Australian dollars ($1.9 billion) in August 2015 in a deal backed by Citigroup and Deutsche Bank.

Read on.

It’s over: CFPB abandons PHH case

The shark strikes again…

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau moved Thursday to dismiss its case against PHH, a remarkable turnaround that crystallizes the differences between former CFPB Director Richard Cordray and current Acting Director Mick Mulvaney.

The case all started back in 2015 when Cordray tacked a $103 million increase onto a $6 million fine initially levied against PHH for allegedly illegally referring consumers to mortgage insurers in exchange for kickbacks.

Read on.