A woman at the center of a foreclosure robo-signing scandal at OneWest Bank in 2009 – and now part of the controversial confirmation hearings for a new Treasury secretary – signed off on mortgage documents in Maine.
The scandal is attracting new attention because Steven Mnuchin, President Trump’s nominee to head the Treasury Department, denied in a Senate confirmation hearing that OneWest, the bank that he headed from 2009 to 2015, engaged in robo-signing. Critics of Mnuchin are hoping that the controversy over robo-signing, along with allegations that the nominee hasn’t revealed all his financial records, might derail his nomination.
This is the very definition of robo-signing. OneWest signed and agreed to the consent order, though it never admitted or denied the activity
However, in a Florida foreclosure case, a OneWest employee plainly admitted to robo-signing. On July 9, 2009 – four months after OneWest took over operations from IndyMac, with Mnuchin as CEO – Erica Johnson-Seck, a vice president with OneWest, gave a deposition in which she admitted to being one of eight employees who signed approximately 750 foreclosure-related documents per week.
“How long do you spend executing each document?” Johnson-Seck was asked. “I have changed my signature considerably,” Johnson-Seck replied. “It’s just an E now. So not more than 30 seconds.”
Johnson-Seck also admitted to not reading the affidavits before signing them, not knowing who inputted the information on the documents, and not being aware of how the records were generated. And she acknowledged not signing in the presence of a notary. This resulted in false affidavits being submitted in court cases that attempted to take borrowers’ homes away.
TREASURY SECRETARY NOMINEE Steven Mnuchin lied in his written responses to the Senate Finance Committee, claiming that “OneWest Bank did not ‘robo-sign’ documents,” when ample evidence proves that they did.
Mnuchin ran OneWest Bank from 2009 to 2015 in a manner so ruthless to mortgage holders that he has been dubbed the “Foreclosure King” by his critics.
The robo-signing scandal involved mortgage companies having their employees falsely sign hundreds of affidavits per week attesting that they had reviewed and verified all the business records associated with a foreclosure — when in fact they never read through the material and just blindly signed off. Those records, in many cases, were prepared improperly, but the foreclosures went ahead anyway because of the fraudulent affidavits.
“Did OneWest ‘robo-sign’ documents relating to foreclosures and evictions?” Sen. Bob Casey, D-Penn., asked Mnuchin as a “question for the record”.
Mnuchin replied that “OneWest Bank did not ‘robo-sign’ documents, and as the only bank to successfully complete the Independent Foreclosure Review required by federal banking regulators to investigate allegations of ‘robo-signing,’ I am proud of our institution’s extremely low error rate.”
But even that review – which was not really so “independent,” since the banks hand-picked and paid for their own reviewers – found that nearly 6 percent of the OneWest foreclosures examined were not conducted properly.
TREASURY SECRETARY NOMINEE Steve Mnuchin kicked off his confirmation hearing Thursday with a defiant opening statement, mostly defending his record as CEO of OneWest Bank. He cast himself as a tireless savior for homeowners after scooping up failed lender IndyMac. “It has been said that I ran a ‘foreclosure machine,’” he said. “I ran a loan modification machine.”
But in stark contrast to his fuzzy statistics about attempted loan modifications, the victims of OneWest’s foreclosure practices have been real and ubiquitous.
A TV advertising campaign that’s been running in Nevada, Arizona, and Iowafeatures Lisa Fraser, a widow who says OneWest “lied to us and took our home” of 25 years, right after her husband’s funeral.
WASHINGTON — Steven T. Mnuchin, President-elect Donald J. Trump’spick to be Treasury secretary, failed to disclose nearly $100 million of his assets on Senate Finance Committee disclosure documents and forgot to mention his role as a director of an investment fund located in a tax haven, an omission that Democrats said made him unfit to serve in one of the government’s most important positions.
The revelation came hours before Mr. Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs banker, began testifying on Thursday before the Senate Finance Committee, which has historically been bipartisan in its demands for transparency from nominees. Mr. Mnuchin was ready to outline his vision for the economy and defend himself against claims that he headed a bank that ran a “foreclosure machine” during the financial crisis.
BREAKING: Ocwen enters massive MSR agreement with OneWest Bank
Ocwen Loan Servicing entered into a mortgage servicing rights purchase and sale agreement with OneWest Bank.
Ocwen has agreed to purchases $78 billion in unpaid principal balance of MSRs and related servicing advance receivables, in each case, measured as of April 30, according to an 8-K filing.
No operations or other assets are being purchased in the transaction.
The aggregate purchase price will be $2.53 billion, with $46 million of the aggregate purchase price paid in respect of the MSRs and $2.1 billion to be paid in respect of the servicing advances.