Tag Archives: OneWest

Mnuchin’s OneWest Avoided Force-Placed Insurance Class Actions During Crisis

OneWest Bank, the mortgage servicer previously owned by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, has been accused by homeowner groups of a type of foreclosure abuse involving lender-placed, or force-placed, insurance.

Mortgage servicers are able to force insurance policies on homeowners during a lapse in coverage, when premiums haven’t been paid or the homeowner has no hazard insurance. Sometimes force-placed policies stem from changes in flood maps or other risks from catastrophic events.

Numerous class actions accused mortgage servicers during the 2010 foreclosure crisis of forcing expensive LPI policies on homeowners, when those policies weren’t necessary.

Read on.

Columbus Dispatch finds dozens of robo-signed OneWest foreclosure docs in Ohio public records. Mnuchin lied.

President Donald Trump’s nominee for U.S. treasury secretary was untruthful with the Senate during the confirmation process, documents uncovered by The Dispatch show.

Steve Mnuchin, former chairman and chief executive officer of OneWest Bank, known for its aggressive foreclosure practices, flatly denied in testimony before the Senate Finance Committee that OneWest used “robo-signing” on mortgage documents.

But records show the bank utilized the questionable practice in Ohio.

“The guy is just lying. There’s no other way to say it,” said Bill Faith, executive director of the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio.

The revelation comes with the committee’s vote on whether to confirm Mnuchin’s nomination, currently scheduled for Monday night.

Read on.

Senator Demands Treasury Nominee Steve Mnuchin Tell the Truth About Robo-Signing

SEN. BOB CASEY, D-Pa., has angrily responded to treasury secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin’s false responses to questions submitted for the record to the Senate Finance Committee, stating that Mnuchin’s “answers to basic questions are at war with facts.” The Intercept called attention to those responses on Wednesday.

Casey had asked Mnuchin if OneWest Bank, which Mnuchin led from 2009 to 2015, engaged in “robo-signing” — a process by which employees rapidly signed off on affidavits and other documents in foreclosure cases without proper reviews, creating false evidence submitted to courtrooms and county offices.

Mnuchin claimed that OneWest did not robo-sign documents, despite abundant evidence to the contrary, including an admission of guilt from a OneWest employee in a 2009 deposition.

“This seems to be part of a pattern with Mr. Mnuchin,” Casey said in a statement emailed to The Intercept.

The senator referred to a question he asked during Mnuchin’s confirmation hearing, where the nominee stated that OneWest engaged in 100,000 home loan modifications. However, this number, taken from a 2013 Treasury Department report, refers only to “trial plan offers extended” under the Home Affordable Modification Program, or HAMP. “The true number wasn’t even close to that,” Casey said correctly; as of the 2013 report, only about 36,000 of those modifications were even active, and that doesn’t count loans that later re-defaulted.

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25 senators call for OneWest customers to speak at Mnuchin’s hearing

Last month, Senate Democrats began collecting complaints from consumers about Steve Mnuchin and OneWest Bank in preparation for Mnuchin’s confirmation hearingto serve as the next Secretary of the Department of the Treasury.

What wasn’t known at the time is what exactly the Democrats planned to do with those complaints

But Friday, the Democrats showed their hand, asking the leadership of the Senate Committee on Finance to allow “victims of Mnuchin foreclosure machine” to testify at Mnuchin’s confirmation hearing, scheduled to take place Thursday, Jan. 19.

Mnuchin, the Trump administration’s choice to lead the Treasury, is a former executive at Goldman Sachs and former chairman of OneWest Bank.

Read on.

Watchdogs calling on new CA Attorney General Xavier Becerra to prosecute Mnuchin and OneWest Bank based on the new leak evidence

SF Weekly:

A newly leaked 2013 memo from the California Attorney General’s office, first published this week by The Intercept, found that OneWest Bank illegally backdated foreclosure notices. In some cases, they backdated the notices to dates before OneWest Bank was even in existence.

OneWest Bank also has the distinction of foreclosing a 90-year-old woman’s home because her mortgage check was 27 cents short.

“How can the king of foreclosures, who has made his living off of the misery he personally caused on tens of thousands of families like mine, be considered Treasury Secretary?” OneWest foreclosure victim Peggy Mears said in a statement from the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment. “No one who oversaw the defrauding of thousands of homeowners should be allowed to serve watch over our country’s money as Treasury Secretary.”

The Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment and other watchdog groups are also calling on new California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to prosecute Mnuchin and OneWest Bank based on these new findings.

Former Attorney General Kamala Harris declined to prosecute Mnuchin or OneWest Bank when presented with these findings in 2013. She’ll have her chance again, as she’s now a California senator who will vote on Mnuchin’s confirmation as Treasury Secretary.

David Dayen on DemocracyNow who exposed a memo that reveals Mnuchin’s bank may have engaged in “widespread misconduct” while foreclosing on homeowners

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: We turn now to Trump’s pick for treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, who faces a—who faces scrutiny for his role at OneWest, a bank which has been called a “foreclosure machine” that profited from the collapse of the housing market. On Tuesday, The Intercept reported on a newly obtained memo that reveals [Mnuchin’s former bank] may have engaged in widespread misconduct while foreclosing on homeowners. The memo argued OneWest was guilty of a host of infractions, including backdating mortgage documents to speed up foreclosures and manipulating the results of home auctions, and it urged a top—California’s attorney general then to sue.

AMY GOODMAN: Mnuchin’s hedge fund bought out the failing California bank IndyMac in 2008, renaming it OneWest. Under his ownership, it foreclosed on 36,000 families, particularly elderly residents trapped in reverse mortgages.

For more, we go to Los Angeles to speak with reporter David Dayen, who broke this story for The Intercept. He’s also the author of the book Chain of Title: How Three Ordinary Americans Uncovered Wall Street’s Great Foreclosure Fraud.

David, welcome back to Democracy Now! Lay out what you found. Explain what this previously undisclosed memo shows.

DAVID DAYEN: Yeah, so this is a memo from deputies in the California Attorney General’s Office, and it describes a year-long investigation that they conducted into OneWest, finding well over a thousand violations of California’s foreclosure process. California is a nonjudicial state. The courts are not involved in foreclosures. But there are very precise steps that lenders are supposed to take when they foreclose on a homeowner. And OneWest was found to have violated these. It was a somewhat limited investigation, because OneWest is a national bank, and states don’t have the jurisdiction to do widespread investigation of them. But they found over a thousand violations just in this limited investigation. And if they did file a civil enforcement action, there would be a discovery period, where they extrapolated, the deputies, that they could find thousands more violations. So they requested authorization to file this action, and the California Attorney General’s Office did not move on that.

AMY GOODMAN: And the California attorney general, of course, was now the current California senator, right, Kamala Harris?

DAVID DAYEN: That’s right. And she’ll have the opportunity to vote on Steven Mnuchin’s OneWest—or, on his treasury secretary nomination. Mnuchin actually was a donor to Kamala Harris as recently as February 2016. He gave $2,000 to Kamala Harris’s Senate election campaign. And there’s no real explanation that was given to these deputies as to why Harris decided not to move forward with the case. There’s a lot of speculation. But now we’re seeing sort of the blowback from failing to prosecute these banks and these top executives: Now one is potentially going to be the treasury secretary.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And this issue of backdating documents, because, obviously, the mortgage fraud crisis was—there was the original problem of all of the high-interest loans and no-doc loans that were issued, but then, after the collapse, the financial collapse, there were all the banks and financial institutions that came in to so-called clean up the mess and then engaged in massive fraud in terms of documentation of who owned what loan and who had paid back what. Talk about the importance of OneWest in this second stage of the crisis.

DAVID DAYEN: Yes, OneWest was definitely part of that cleanup crew. They were built out of the ashes of IndyMac, which was a failed lender that originated really bad toxic mortgages. And OneWest was brought in, and they engaged in a number of practices to do foreclosures. The backdating scandal here was, they would file notices of default—and that sort of kicks off the foreclosure process here in California—without actually designating what is known as a trustee, that would engage in the foreclosure sale. And so, when they would do that document to designate the trustee, to make it look like the notice of default was done correctly, they would backdate the document. And the way that the deputies at the AG’s Office figured this out is that some of the documents were backdated so far back, it was before OneWest became a bank. OneWest was inaugurated as a bank in March of 2009, and some of the documents had dates before that, that they were executing these what are known as substitutions of trustee before OneWest even became into being.

Read more from DemocracyNow. Click here.

Investigators deduced Mnuchin’s OneWest was backdating documents because the dates were from before OneWest existed

Treasury Nominee Steve Mnuchin’s Bank Accused of “Widespread Misconduct” in Leaked Memo

By 

ONEWEST BANK, WHICH Donald Trump’s nominee for treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, ran from 2009 to 2015, repeatedly broke California’s foreclosure laws during that period, according to a previously undisclosed 2013 memo from top prosecutors in the state attorney general’s office.

The memo obtained by The Intercept alleges that OneWest rushed delinquent homeowners out of their homes by violating notice and waiting period statutes, illegally backdated key documents, and effectively gamed foreclosure auctions.

In the memo, the leaders of the state attorney general’s Consumer Law Section said they had “uncovered evidence suggestive of widespread misconduct” in a yearlong investigation. In a detailed 22-page request, they identified over a thousand legal violations in the small subsection of OneWest loans they were able to examine, and they recommended that Attorney General Kamala Harris file a civil enforcement action against the Pasadena-based bank. They even wrote up a sample legal complaint, seeking injunctive relief and millions of dollars in penalties.

But Harris’s office, without any explanation, declined to prosecute the case.

Read on.

Senate Dems put up a website for OneWest foreclosure victims to tell their stories

On November 30th, 2016, President-elect Trump named Steve Mnuchin to be the United States Treasury Secretary.

Also known as the “Foreclosure King,” Mnuchin earned the nickname for his bank’s practice of buying distressed mortgages during the financial crisis and evicting thousands of homeowners.

As the Chief Executive Officer and owner of OneWest Bank, Mnuchin oversaw what housing advocates called a “Foreclosure Machine.”

How did the “Foreclosure Machine” work?
The “Foreclosure Machine” repossessed the homes of tens of thousands of American families between 2009 and 2015. These actions only intensified the economic pain of the Great Recession.

Programs were created and available specifically to help banks like OneWest work with families to modify their mortgages and keep them in their homes.

Instead, OneWest pursued an aggressive strategy of foreclosing on families to rack up profits. In one case in Minnesota, a homeowner in a foreclosure dispute with OneWest came home in the middle of a blizzard to find that the locks on her house had been changed.

OneWest used illegal tactics like “robo-signing”—falsifying key documents—to create a wave of foreclosures that kicked more than 36,000 families out of their homes.

Read on.

Meet the victims of Steve Mnuchin’s ‘foreclosure machine’

Thinkprogress:

In particular, the bank’s Financial Freedom unit, which issued reverse mortgages mostly to elderly homeowners borrowing against their home’s equity, has foreclosed on at least 16,200 of these loans since 2009, according to other data obtained by the California Reinvestment Coalition. That makes up nearly 40 percent of all foreclosures on reverse mortgages in that time period even though it served just 17 percent of the market. The unit has caught the eye of the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Inspector General, which has launched an investigation into it.

One such homeowner is Rex Schaffer, an 86-year-old resident of California.As he told NPR, he and his wife took out a home equity loan on their home of nearly 50 years but had a hard time affording the payments. They qualified for three different government-assisted modifications to make it easier to afford, they say, but OneWest never changed the terms of their loan, even though Rex says he contacted 33 different employees.

As their house was about to be sold in an auction, Rex says he finally got through to a bank vice president who offered a 60-day extension on the sale — only to have the house sold the next day, unbeknownst to them. “We didn’t even know it — didn’t have the faintest idea,” Rex told NPR.

Another is Leslie Parks, who came back to her home in Minnesota from work one day in 2009 to find her locks changed. Her mother had years earlier refinanced a fixed-rate mortgage to an adjustable-rate one that could go up at any time with OneWest. When Parks was locked out of her house, she was in the middle of trying to get a loan modification from the bank.

Yet another is Rose Gudiel, who tried for two years to get OneWest to modify her loan after she was furloughed at work a number of times and her brother was killed. She says the bank refused and instead put her house into foreclosure. “I have the money to pay for my home,” she told the Pasadena Star-News. “All I want is for the bank to let us keep our home.” Her story inspired a march of about 100 people to protest in front of Mnuchin’s home in 2011.

The bank was also accused by employees of encouraging fraudulent behavior. A Texas employee said in a 2009 deposition that she was forced to partake in what became dubbed “robo-signing,” or mortgage officials signing off on foreclosures without verifying information or giving the documents an in-depth look. She said she signed 750 such affidavits and documents a week, spending just 30 seconds on each. A later review found that nearly 11,000 borrowers, or 5.6 percent of all its borrowers, were due remediation for such practices.