… show both suppression of evidence and gross incompetence – published on naked capitalism, by blog owner Yves Smith, January 15, 2013.
No wonder the Fed and the OCC snubbed a request by Darryl Issa and Elijah Cummings to review the foreclosure fraud settlement before it was finalized early last week. What had leaked out while the Potemkin borrower reviews were underway showed them to be a sham, as we detailed at length in an earlier post. But even so, what actually took place was even worse than hardened cynics had imagined.
We are going to be reporting on this story in detail, since we are conducting an in-depth investigation. But this initial report by Huffington Post gives a window on a good deal of the dubious practices that took place during the foreclosure reviews. I strongly suggest you read the piece in full; there is a lot of nasty stuff on view.
There are some issues that are highlighted in the piece, others that are implication that get somewhat lost in the considerable detail. The first, as stressed by Sheila Bair and other observers, is that the reviews were never designed to succeed. This is something we and others pointed out; this was all an exercise in show. The OCC had entered into these consent orders in the first place with the aim of derailing the 50 state attorney general settlement negotiations. This was all intended to be diversionary, but to make it look like it had some teeth, borrowers who were foreclosed on in 2009 and 2010 who thought they were harmed were allowed to request a review. If hard was found, they could get as much as $15,000 plus their home back if they had suffered a wrongful foreclosure, or if they home had already been sold, $125,000 plus any equity in the home. Needless to say, the forms were written at the second grade college level, making them hard to answer. A whistleblower for Wells Fargo reported that of 10,000 letters, harm was found in none because the responses were interpreted in such a way as to deny harm (for instance, if the borrower did not provide dates of certain incidents, those details were omitted from the assessment) … //
… To add insult to injury, the settlement fiasco was shut down abruptly without the OCC and the Fed coming with a method for compensating borrowers. So the records have been left in chaos. That pretty much guarantees that any payments will be token amounts spread across large number of borrowers, which insures that borrowers that suffered serious damage, such as the case cited above, where the bank effectively extorted an extra $25,000 from a borrower before foreclosing on him, will get a token payment, at most $8,000 but more likely around $2,000. Oh, and you can be sure that the banks will want a release from private claims as a condition of accepting payment. $2,000 for a release of liability is a screaming deal, and it was almost certainly the main objective of this exercise from the outset. Nicely played indeed.
Crisis Strain: Survey Shows Cracks in German-French Relations, on Spiegel Online International, by Stefan Simons in Paris, Jan 15, 2013;