Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Mortgage Settlement - Banks Get "Free Pass"

As the details of the Mortgage Settlement Agreement, the deal between 49 of 50 states and the U.S. on one side, and BanK of America, Wells Fargo, CitiBank, Ally Financial, and JP Morgan/Chase on the other, become analyzed, it a HUGE win for the Banks. The not only received a "Get Out Of Jail Free" card but are now assured that there will no jail and the cost will not hurt profits.

Quoting from the March 13, 2012 American Banker's article about the agreement

"The settlement includes releases from certain federal claims, including errors related to servicing conduct; origination; and errors specifically related to servicing loans for borrowers in bankruptcy

The claim "fully and finally" releases the company and any affiliated entities, from any civil or administrative claims and any civil or administrative penalties -- including punitive or exemplary damages--for:

Servicing claims under the: Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act; False Claims Act; the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act; the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act; Fair Credit Reporting Act; Fair Debt Collection Practices Act; Truth in Lending Act; Interstate Land Sales Full Disclosure Act and certain sections of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. Origination claims under RESPA, TILA, Fair Credit Reporting Act; and Interstate Land Sales Full Disclosure Act, and certain claims made under FIRREA.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau agreed to release servicers from any claims related to servicing or origination conduct that took place prior to July 21, 2011, when the bureau became an independent agency. But the agency reserved the right to obtain information related to conduct" (emphasis by this writer)

Perhaps the biggest issue for DEBTORS in the long term will be that Servicers and Lenders etc are released from any liability from servicing errors during a Bankruptcy. This is a huge WIN for the mortgage industry. Most servicers cannot keep track of payments for money owed before a bankruptcy and payments made AFTER the bankruptcy was filed. Pre and Post-petition debt transaction history is generally a nightmare. Even Gordion would not have a sword capable of solving his problem.

As with all such programs we will have to wait for the regulations. The settlement is one thing - the details of administration is another.

Author's Copyright by Richard I. Isacoff, Esq., March 2012


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