Archive | November, 2012

National Mortgage Database – Promoting the MERS Infection and Model – The Evisceration of State’s Rights Continues

28 Nov

From: Charles Cox []
Sent: Wednesday, November 21, 2012 5:57 AM
To: Charles Cox
Subject: National Mortgage Database – Promoting the MERS Infection and Model – The Evisceration of State’s Rights Continues

U.S. Federal Housing Finance Agency and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announce plans for a new national mortgage database

· Dechert LLP

· Patrick D. Dolan , Robert H. Ledig, Ralph R. Mazzeo and Gordon Miller



· November 14 2012

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) have agreed to collaborate to create a National Mortgage Database to chart housing market trends and support policymaking and research efforts. The database is also intended to fulfill a requirement under the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 for the FHFA to conduct a monthly mortgage market survey.

The mortgage database, which will date back to 1998, will be updated on a monthly basis and will include information such as the borrower’s financial and credit profile; the mortgage product and terms; the property purchased or refinanced; and the ongoing payment history of the loan. The database will create datasets on mortgages by matching informational files, such as property valuation models, to a nationwide sampling of credit bureau files on borrowers’ mortgages and payment histories.

Goals for the Creation of the Mortgage Database

While multiple state and federal databases and private databases currently exist, the FHFA and the CFPB intend to create one large, comprehensive database concerning the mortgage market to accomplish the following goals:

  • Streamline data for research and policy purposes;
  • Monitor the health of mortgage markets and consumers by providing detailed mortgage loan performance information regarding payments, modifications, foreclosures and bankruptcies;
  • Better understand consumer decision making through the use of surveys;
  • Monitor the volume and performance of new and emerging products in the mortgage market;
  • Increase transparency regarding first and second mortgages outstanding to a particular borrower and how they are performing; and
  • Better understand emerging borrower trends and overall consumer debt burdens by providing information regarding a borrower’s other debt obligations.

Concerns Regarding the Database

The FHFA stated that the database will not contain personally identifiable information and that appropriate precautions will be taken by the agencies to ensure that individual consumers cannot be identified through the database or any datasets that may be available to researchers or the public. However, observers have expressed concerns with regard to the level of detailed borrower information that the agencies intend to collect and include in the database, and how the information will be used. Market participants also worry that the database may increase burdens on lenders by requiring them to hire additional personnel to compile information for the government, and expose lenders to potential liability regarding the accuracy of such information.


The FHFA and the CFPB have signed an Inter-Agency Agreement regarding the terms for developing, maintaining and funding the database, and expect an early version of the full dataset to be complete in 2013.

National Mortgage Database.pdf

Moynihan Depo

28 Nov

From: Charles Cox []
Sent: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 6:23 AM
To: Charles Cox
Subject: Moynihan Depo

Matt Taibbi; Rolling Stone Politics:

Thank God for Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan. If you’re a court junkie, or have the misfortune (as some of us poor reporters do) of being forced professionally to spend a lot of time reading legal documents, the just-released Moynihan deposition in MBIA v. Bank of America, Countrywide, and a Buttload of Other Shameless Mortgage Fraudsters will go down as one of the great Nixonian-stonewalling efforts ever, and one of the more entertaining reads of the year.

In this long-awaited interrogation – Bank of America has been fighting to keep Moynihan from being deposed in this case for some time – Moynihan does a full Star Trek special, boldly going where no deponent has ever gone before, breaking out the "I don’t recall" line more often and perhaps more ridiculously than was previously thought possible. Moynihan seems to remember his own name, and perhaps his current job title, but beyond that, he’ll have to get back to you.

The MBIA v. Bank of America case is one of the bigger and weightier lawsuits hovering over the financial world. Prior to the crash, MBIA was, along with a company called Ambac, one of the two largest and most reputable names in what’s called the "monoline" insurance business.

Bank of America: Too Crooked to Fail

The monolines sell a kind of investment insurance – if you invest in a municipal bond or in mortgage-backed securities backed or "wrapped" by a monoline, you have backing in case the investment goes south. If a municipality defaults on its bond payments, or homeowners in a mortgage-backed security default on their mortgage payments, the investors in those instruments can collect from the monoline insurer.

When companies like Countrywide issued their giant piles of crappy subprime mortgages and then chopped them up and turned them into AAA-rated securities to sell to suckers around the world, they often had these mortgage-backed securities insured by companies like MBIA or Ambac, to make their customers feel doubly safe about investing in their product.

The pitch firms like Countrywide made went like this: not only are these mortgages triple-A rated by reputable ratings agencies like Moody’s, they’re fully insured by similarly reputable insurance companies like MBIA. You can’t lose!

With protection like that, why shouldn’t your state pension fund or foreign trade union buy billions’ worth of these mortgage-backed products? It’s not like it would ever turn out that Countrywide made those products by trolling the cities of America stuffing mortgages in the pockets of anything with a pulse.

After 2007-8, when all of those mortgage-backed securities started blowing up, suddenly all of those insurance companies started having to pay out billions in claims. Ambac went bankrupt and MBIA was downgraded from AAA to near-junk status. The entire monoline industry was shattered.

The analogy one could make is that Countrywide sold a million flood-insured houses in New Orleans and Biloxi even though they could already see Katrina gathering in the Caribbean. Then, after the storm, the insurers decided to sue.

MBIA sued Bank of America (which acquired Countrywide in 2008), claiming that Countrywide lied to MBIA about its supposedly strict underwriting standards, when in fact the firm was cranking out mortgages hand over fist, without doing any real due diligence at all. (Whether the monolines should have known better, or its agents perhaps did know better and sold the mountains of insurance anyway, is another matter). In its suit, MBIA claimed that Countrywide turned itself into a veritable machine of mortgage approvals:

Countrywide Home Loans’ senior management imposed intense pressure on underwriters to approve mortgage loans, in some instances requiring underwriters to process 60 to 70 mortgage loan applications in a single day and to justify any rejections…

As a result of all of this, MBIA got stuck insuring a Himalayan mountain range of dicey mortgages. When the securities those mortgages backed started to fail, MBIA ended up paying out $2.2 billion in claims, helping crack the hull of the formerly staid, solid, AAA-rated firm.

Suits like this have the whole financial world on edge. The possibility that the banks might still have to pay gigantic claims to companies like MBIA (among a wide range of other claimants) has left Wall Street in a state of uncertainty about the future of some of the better-known, Too-Big-To-Fail companies, whose already-strained balance sheets might eventually be rocked by massive litigation payouts.

In the case of Bank of America, MBIA has long wanted to depose Moynihan because it was precisely Moynihan who went public with comments about how B of A was going to make good on the errors made by its bad-seed acquisition, Countrywide. "At the end of the day, we’ll pay for the things Countrywide did," was one such comment Moynihan made, in November of 2010.

As it turns out, Moynihan was deposed last May 2. But the deposition was only made public this week, when it was filed as an exhibit in a motion for summary judgment. In the deposition, attorney Peter Calamari of Quinn Emmanuel, representing MBIA, attempts to ask Moynihan a series of questions about what exactly Bank of America knew about Countrywide’s operations at various points in time.

Early on, he asks Moynihan if he remembers the B of A audit committee discussing Countrywide. Moynihan says he "doesn’t recall any specific discussion of it."

He’s asked again: In the broadest conceivable sense, do you recall ever attending an audit committee meeting where the word Countrywide or any aspect of the Countrywide transaction was ever discussed? Moynihan: I don’t recall.

Calamari counters: It’s a multi-billion dollar acquisition, was it not?
Moynihan: Yes, it was. Well, isn’t that the kind of thing you would talk about?
Moynihan: not necessarily . . .

This goes on and on for a while, with the Bank of America CEO continually insisting he doesn’t remember ever talking about Countrywide at these meetings, that you’d have to "get the minutes." Incredulous, Calamari, a little sarcastically, finally asks Moynihan if he would say he has a good memory.

"I would – I could remember things, yes," Moynihan deadpans. "I have a good memory."

Calamari presses on, eventually asking him about the state of Countrywide when Moynihan became the CEO, leading to the following remarkable exchange, in which the CEO of one of the biggest companies in the world claims not to know anything about the most significant acquisition in the bank’s history (emphasis mine):

Q: By January 1st, 2010, when you became the CEO of Bank Of America, CFC – and I’m using the initials CFC, Countrywide Financial Corporation – itself was no longer engaged in any revenue-producing activities; is that right?

Moynihan: I wouldn’t be the best person to ask about that because I don’t know.

There are no sound effects in the transcript, but you can almost hear an audible gasp at this response. Calamari presses Moynihan on his answer.

"Sir," he says, "you were CEO of Bank Of America in January, 2010, but you don’t know what Countrywide Financial Corporation was doing at that time?"

In an impressive display of balls, Moynihan essentially replies that Bank of America is a big company, and it’s unrealistic to ask the CEO to know about all of its parts, even the ones that are multi-billion-dollar suckholes about which the firm has been engaged in nearly constant litigation from the moment it acquired the company.

"We have several thousand legal entities," is how Moynihan puts it. "Exactly what subsidiary took place [sic] is not what you do as the CEO. That is [sic] other people’s jobs to make sure."

The exasperated MBIA lawyer tries again: If it’s true that Moynihan somehow managed to not know anything about the bank’s most important and most problematic subsidiary when he became CEO, well, did he ever make an effort to correct that ignorance? "Do you ever come to learn what CFC was doing?" is how the question is posed.

"I’m not sure that I recall exactly what CFC was doing versus other parts," Moynihan sagely concludes.

The deposition rolls on like this for 223 agonizing pages. The entire time, the Bank of America CEO presents himself as a Being There-esque cipher who was placed in charge of a Too-Big-To-Fail global banking giant by some kind of historical accident beyond his control, and appears to know little to nothing at all about the business he is running.

In the end, Moynihan even doubles back on his "we’ll pay for the things Countrywide did" quote. Asked if he said that to a Bloomberg reporter, Moynihan says he doesn’t remember that either, though he guesses the reporter got it right.

Well, he’s asked, assuming he did say it, does the quote accurately reflect Moynihan’s opinion?

"It is what it is," Moynihan says philosophically.

There’s nothing surprising about any of this – it’s natural that a Bank of America executive would do everything he could to deny responsibility for Countrywide’s messes. But that doesn’t mean it’s not funny. By about the thirtieth "I don’t recall," I was laughing out loud.

It’s also more than a little infuriating. In the pre-crash years, Countrywide was the biggest, loudest, most obvious fraud in a marketplace full of them, and the legion of complainants who’ve since sued (ranging from the U.S. government to Norway’s Sovereign Wealth Fund to state pension funds in Iowa and Oregon, among others) have found it painstaking work trying to get Bank of America to do the right thing and pay back the money its subsidiary took in its various ripoffs. And with executives boasting such poor memories, this story is going to drag on and on even longer.

Moynihan Depo BofA.pdf

Deutsche Bank Sues Foreclosure Fraud Expert’s Son

25 Nov

Deutsche Bank Sues Foreclosure Fraud Expert’s Son With No Financial Interest In Her Case


First Posted: 05/13/2011 7:17 pm Updated: 07/13/2011 5:12 am


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WASHINGTON — Deutsche Bank appears to have retaliated against a high-profile foreclosure fraud expert, whose years-long battle against her own foreclosure helped reveal a wave of apparent malfeasance, by suing her son.

The expert, Lynn Szymoniak, an attorney who specializes in white-collar crime, is widely considered on Capitol Hill to be one of the nation’s top experts on foreclosure law. When Deutsche Bank attempted to jack up the interest rate on the mortgage for her Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., home in May 2008, she contested the move, setting off an investigation which unveiled mountains of forged signatures and fraudulent bank paperwork associated with the foreclosure process.

Szymoniak alerted other attorneys, neighborhood advocates, lawmakers and the media about the apparent rampant fraud. She appeared on “60 Minutes” in April to discuss the broader foreclosure scandal .

Her own home has been in foreclosure since June 2008. A month earlier, she had been notified that the interest rate on her adjustable-rate mortgage was being raised, increasing her monthly payments by about $1,000. But the terms of her mortgage only allowed interest-rate hikes at certain dates.

In an interview with The Huffington Post, Szymoniak noted that Deutsche Bank was not acting within the allowed timeframe.

“They missed my adjustment date, and then when they figured it out, they just slapped that higher payment on anyway,” she said. “I paid one payment at the higher rate and then I said, ‘This is ridiculous.’ And I stopped paying and then they sued me in June ’08.”

After she’d been sued, Szymoniak said, she began investigating the documentation on Florida foreclosures, uncovering alarming irregularities, including signatures that were apparently forged. If so, those signatures allowed banks to push foreclosures through overly quickly, charge improper fees and assert improperly inflated borrower debts.

Shortly after appearing on “60 Minutes” Szymoniak won a major victory in her own foreclosure case. The court found that Deutsche Bank was unable to demonstrate ownership of her mortgage, which had originally been issued by the defunct subprime mortgage lender Option One, and threw the case out.

Deutsche Bank was permitted to refile their case if the bank could obtain proper documentation, however. And on Friday, May 6, Szymoniak received a notification from the bank’s lawyers that she was again being sued for foreclosure.

But Deutsche Bank wasn’t just going after her. The bank was also attempting to sue her son, Mark Cullen, who is currently pursuing a graduate degree in poetry at the New School in New York. Cullen hasn’t lived in Szymoniak’s house for seven years and is not a party to any aspect of her mortgage — he has no interest in either the property or the loan, and never has had any such interest, according to Szymoniak.

“It is just absolute harassment,” Szymoniak said. “He doesn’t own anything, for god’s sake! He’s getting a masters in poetry. He not only doesn’t have any money, he’s never going to have any money.”

And other Florida foreclosure experts say it’s difficult to interpret Deutsche Bank’s move as anything other than retaliation for Szymoniak’s media presence. If it is not, in fact, retaliation, they argue, then Deutsche Bank’s lawyers have demonstrated rank incompetence.

“It sounds crazy,” said Margery Golant, a principal with the foreclosure defense law firm of Golant & Golant PA in Florida. “I can think of no legitimate reason, if he doesn’t have some connection to the property or to the mortgage, to include him in an action to foreclosure.”

“It’s an intimidation tool,” said Matt Englett, a partner at the Florida law firm Kaufman Englett Lynd PLLC. “Most people, they get scared and they get nervous and I think that’s the effect that they’re trying to have on him and his mother.”

“If he’s not an owner of the house, it’s pretty clearly just vindictive,” said Joshua Rosner, the managing director of Graham Fisher & Co., a mortgage investment firm. “If they’re doing it intentionally, that’s one hell of a statement. If they’re doing it randomly, that’s still pretty incredible.”

The experts said the lawsuit against Szymoniak’s son could also have negative implications for him beyond the immediate costs of fighting the foreclosure case, even though he has no financial interest in anything related to it.

“He’s going to have a lawsuit out there against him,” Englett said, “so if someone were to do some kind of background check against him, that would come up.”

Watch Szymoniak’s “60 Minutes” interview:


Deutsche Bank maintains that it is not to blame, and notes that while it is legally listed as the plaintiff in the Szymoniak foreclosure case, another company directs the actual legal maneuvering.

“Pursuant to the aforementioned contracts for securitization trusts, loan servicers, and not the trustee, are responsible for foreclosure-related legal proceedings. The attorneys and law firms who oversee foreclosure proceedings on behalf of the trusts are engaged by loan servicers rather than the trustee. Loan servicers are obligated to adhere to all legal requirements, and Deutsche Bank, as trustee, has consistently informed servicers that they are required to execute these actions in a proper and timely manner,” said Deutsche Bank spokesman John Gallagher

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21 Nov
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