Friday, April 13, 2012

Eight More Banks Fined for Abusive Foreclosure Practices

Although federal and state officials announced a $25 billion settlement last month with the nation’s five largest mortgage servicing firms, including Bank of America Corp., Wells Fargo & Co., J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc. and Ally Financial Inc., the Federal Reserve has named eight more banks to that list of mortgage servicers that it intends to fine for foreclosure abuse primarily through the use of “robo-signers.” The eight additional banks the Fed has deemed to have engaged in abusive foreclosure practices include HSBC Holdings PLC’s U.S. bank division, SunTrust Banks Inc., MetLife Inc., U.S. Bancorp, PNC Financial Services Group Inc., EverBank, OneWest Bank and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. The initial five banks that engaged in foreclosure fraud and abuse were fined over $760 million; no fines for the latest eight have been announced.

The Fed, in spring 2011, ordered several of the largest banks engaged in mortgage lending to review their foreclosure practices. Now, the bank regulators are moving forward to help distressed homeowners by hiring independent consultants to review the bank’s foreclosure files. This arrangement is different than the $25 billion settlement; consumers have to request a review of their case under the banks’ review process. Thus, if consumers are deemed to have received a “financial injury” through abusive foreclosure practices, they may be in line for compensation.

(photograph of the Federal Reserve Bank courtesy of Dan Smith and available through WikiMedia Commons)


  1. This post makes me wonder where these eight banks were when the first five were under investigation and why they did not take reasonable steps to correct their own actions before they got added to the list. I am not sure if the plan to have bank's hire independent consultants will be the best remedy for those distressed owners. I think this is because the consultant may subconsciously feel some loyalty towards the bank's original findings since they are being hired by the bank.

    On the other hand, the consultant's job is to be an independent outside party so the fact that they are hired by the banks' may not be an issue. It will be interesting to see how many people take advantage of this new arrangement to have their case reviewed under the banks' review process.

    The question I am left with is: should those that were victim's in this foreclosure process have to bear the responsibility of taking certain steps to have their case reviewed or should there just have been a settlement like in the scenario involving the other 5 banks?

  2. I think that the new arrangement is an adequate remedy. The real problem is the robo-signing because the people signing the documents were not doing their due diligence. I read an article about an attorney in the Attorney Generals Office in Florida. This attorney was moonlighting as robo-signer and she managed to vet 150,000 mortgages in three years. Clearly there was a blatant disregard for the information contained in the individual files/documents. I believe that the banks should have to pay all of the outside consultant fees. I also believe that anyone who requests a review should be granted one.

  3. Foreclosure is a big deal. Not only does it have a lasting negative effect on a conusmer's credit report, but it causes people to be physically removed from their homes. Going through a foreclosure can truly be a life-changing event. That the mortgage lenders were, and possibly still are, engaging in abusive foreclosure practices is appalling, especially considering how serious the consequences are for those being foreclosed on.

    I believe the lenders should be fined (or continue to be fined) substantially enough to make them change their internal practices, or they should face further and harsher sanctions. In this case, a financial penalty akin to a slap-on-the-wrist may not be subsantial enough to cause the mortgage lenders to avoid abusive foreclosure practices. Further, the article mentions that the Fed "ordered several of the largest banks engaged in mortgage lending to review their foreclosure pratices." What about the other mortgage lenders? Shouldn't every mortgage lender review their internal practices to avoid abusive foreclosures? - Aaron Matthes

  4. I would like to see the fines increased on these banks for conducting these practices. However, banks have shown us in the last 5 years that they are willing to take chances with money, so more is likely needed. That is why I would like to see some type of criminal penalty imposed on those responsible, both lower and upper management. I am not informed enough on bank regulation law to know if criminal penalties are available under the current law for this type of fraud. If it is not, regulators should consider it strongly. Banks have shown us that it is going to take a strong penalty to stop their bad behavior. These banks are taking measures that are destroying people's lives, so its management needs to have their lives impacted as well.
    Gavin Ward

  5. I agree with everything Aaron has said. The five largest banks were fined 766.6 million dollars total, which isn't that much considering they made an absolute fortune wrecking the livelihood of thousands of Americans and continue to make millions of dollars every year. I'm assuming that the sanctions against these next 8 banks would be something similar. If it were me, I would go beyond these fines and see actual criminal penalties assessed for the individuals that were primarily responsible, as well as a financial penalty assessed to anyone who engaged in the act of "robosigning." It may seem harsh, but something has to be done to make sure that something of this magnitude never happens again.