The Banks Evade Responsibility Again
Banks thrive, while homeowners still suffer | The Great Debate
A year ago the federal government and 49 states completed a $25 billion agreement with the nation’s largest mortgage servicers to settle claims of “robo-signing” and unlawful foreclosure practices. President Barack Obama announced the creation of the federal-state mortgage securities working group in his 2012 State of the Union address. The nation seemed on the verge of transforming the way banks treat struggling homeowners ‑ particularly those with “underwater” mortgages, in which a homeowner owes more than the house is worth.
These promises, however, have yet to be fulfilled. The latest interim report on the national mortgage settlement is due out this week, and banks will likely again declare that it offers proof that they are fulfilling their obligations. But the communities hit hardest by the foreclosure crisis have yet to see any meaningful relief.
Time is running out to ensure that these communities receive their fair share under the settlement. But it is not too late to provide meaningful assistance. The settlement monitors need to demand greater transparency from banks, and they need to see that banks comply with the fair-lending requirements set out in the agreement. They also need to aggressively police the servicing reforms to ensure that all homeowners get a fair opportunity to save their homes.
And from further down in the article:
Unfortunately, there is little transparency about how the banks are using this money. They have not provided any loan-level data to show which borrowers are receiving assistance.
Moreover, mortgage servicers have complete discretion over who receives help. Advocates fear the banks have been cherry-picking expensive loans that are deeply underwater to meet their settlement obligations quickly. This provides an important service for the borrowers in that category but little systematic relief for low- and moderate-income communities suffering the most from the foreclosure crisis.
The mortgage holders committed fraud for years making billions of dollars taking homes they had little or no claim to. They used the HAMP program as a weapon against homeowners, telling them to skip three payments so as to be able to qualify, then rejecting their applications or not bothering to even process them (not that we’ll ever know in most cases, the HAMP program kept no records for the first two years) and then quickly foreclosing on their homes. I’ve had students in my classes who were victims of that scam.
Instead of holding the perpetrators of these crimes accountable they were “sort of” fined 25 billion dollars through a program they administer and report on without effective oversight. Let me repeat that – they, the banks, administer the program to give back some of the money and homes they stole. Oh, forgive me, they are not giving the homes back just some money should they feel in some way that they want to because if they don’t want to, they don’t have to.
That is what passes for justice in the current administration and the 49 states that the bankers negotiated this sweetheart deal with. Crime pays in the United States if you are a banker dealing mortgages.
They stole billions of dollars worth of homes. They in an epic display of arrogance created a parallel system of recording deeds without any legal justification purely to expedite trading of mortgages and to evade filing fees. They lied to judges all over the United States in countless jurisdictions filing tens of thousands of false affidavits saying that their paperwork, their proof of ownership was in order.
These are crimes, not mistakes, crimes.
If I stole through fraud the least home in the land, I would and should do prison time. No one has been sentenced for these crimes. Without prison time, fines, that are a fraction of the money made, are the only deterrent. Is that enough? Does that make sense?
Two systems of justice – one for the bankers and one for regular citizens, the “common” folk, the ones without political friends; the ones that don’t have the right memberships, the right bank accounts, the right lives lived in the adoration of business television and magazines.
We discussed in my class on business law and business ethics what it takes to build a good society. One of the thoughts was to reward virtue and penalize wrong doing. What kind of society does this build?
I think you know the answer.
From around the web –
From the web site, Diane’s Blog:
Kamala Harris is right: we need a Homeowners Bill of Rights, and the banks, like it or not and they don’t, need good, strong regulations to control them. These two items are bare minimums. As for giving the money to individual homeowners, if it does happen, the amounts will be small because the numbers involved are so large. Better to allocate some money to homeowners’ advocacy and education groups.
From the web site, On the Frontlines of Americans with Debt:
The five mortgage companies who are part of the settlement are Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Chase, GMAC/Ally Financial, and Citibank.
While HUD estimates that 2 million homeowners could see their mortgage balances reduced, it will be up to the five banks to determine which homeowners will be included in the program.
In addition, payments of between $1500 and $2000 will be paid to people who lost a home to foreclosure between 2008 and 2011, so long as certain criteria are met. The factsheet does not explain the criteria necessary for those people to qualify.
And finally from the web site, Defend My Florida Home:
A major impediment to mortgage modifications is the bank practice of “dual tracking” mortgages. When a mortgage is dual tracked the bank pursues foreclosure while at the same time allowing the home owner to pursue a modification. The problem with this is that in spite of an eminent, or completed modification the bank will still sell a home at sale leaving the owner homeless.