Some encouraging news in the on going call for an investigation into foreclosure fraud, Sen Maria Cantwell (D-WA) called for Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate the fraud before letting the bank off with a pitiful settlement $20 billion and a “get out of jail” card for criminal charges, She also demanded a full investigation into robo-signing scandal and ‘pump and dump’ mortgage bubble scheme:
I am concerned that recently reported settlement proposals will effectively absolve these financial institutions of substantial civil and criminal liability in one of the largest alleged fraud schemes during the financial crisis. Specifically, I am concerned that the proposed settlement includes a release from liability that may be far too sweeping, does not adequately compensate victims, does not require enough of banks to reform the system that led to the crisis in the first place, and is being made before all the facts are known and without the backing of a full inquiry into the size and scope of the alleged fraud.
Without a thorough investigation, it is impossible to truly estimate just how pervasive the defects in the foreclosure and securitization process are. Continued reports of wrongful foreclosures, forged documents, and an inability of servicers and banks to prove chain of title and the legal right to foreclosure, raises the very alarming possibility that these defects were endemic to the mortgage servicing industry across the country. The sheer magnitude of the potential fallout from these defects demands that we undertake a full investigation to uncover the true scope of wrongdoing before providing blanket immunity to the perpetrators.
I am also concerned that reports of a settlement in the range of $20 billion, as recently reported, may not adequately compensate the victims of the foreclosure crisis. As a result of the pump-and-dump scheme perpetrated by the nation’s largest banks that inflated – and burst – the housing bubble, an estimated 14 million Americans are underwater, owing $700 billion more on their homes than those homes are worth. A $20 billion settlement is woefully inadequate to compensate the wrongfully evicted or homeowners struggling to stay in their homes. Much more should be required of banks to provide meaningful help underwater homeowners and compensate foreclosure fraud victims.
And some good news for homeowners facing foreclosure in Florida:
WEST PALM BEACH – Homeowners in foreclosure may have a better chance of getting a true trial, instead of a quickie judgment, following a 4th District Court of Appeal decision that requires banks to prove ownership of the note at the time they file for repossession.
The ruling Wednesday in Palm Beach County was heralded by foreclosure defense attorneys who said it may even force banks to dismiss some cases and start over with new paperwork.[..]
Wednesday’s ruling was on the case of Robert McLean vs. JPMorgan Chase, and involved a 2009 Broward County foreclosure.
According to the decision, which reversed a lower court’s verdict in favor of the bank, Chase originally filed the foreclosure claiming the note – basically the IOU from the borrower – was “lost, stolen or destroyed.”
The claim has been made thousands of times as lenders rushed without the proper documentation to take back homes tangled up in the real estate boom’s securitization frenzy.
Although most notes are found before a final foreclosure judgment is entered, the 4th DCA said the note also must be correctly dated and endorsed to show ownership before the foreclosure was initially filed – something that Chase didn’t have, according to the ruling. The court also questioned a mortgage assignment made to Chase that was dated three days after the foreclosure was initially filed.
If there is substantial doubt about the note, the bank should dismiss and refile the case or the homeowner should be entitled to an evidentiary hearing instead of a more hasty “summary judgment,” the ruling said.