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Sep 06 2011

No Liability For Banks

It is becoming quite apparent the New York State Attorney General Eric Scheiderman was right about the 50 state AG negotiations to settle the mortgage backed securities fraud. It will shield the banks from liability despite denial by Iowa Ag Tom Miller and others that it would not:

“The negotiation committee, working on behalf of all 50 states, does not have any intention of constraining the office of the New York attorney general in any way, has not tried to do so and could not do so,” Miller said. “Schneiderman was removed from the executive committee because he has, over the last several months, undermined our efforts to reach an agreement.”

In a Financial Times article on Labor Day by Shahien Nasiripour puts an end to that myth:

The talks aim to settle allegations that banks including Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and Ally Financial seized the homes of delinquent borrowers and broke state laws by employing so-called “robosigners”, workers who signed off on foreclosure documents en masse without reviewing the paperwork.

State prosecutors have proposed effectively releasing the companies from legal liability for allegedly wrongful securitisation practices, according to five people with direct knowledge of the discussions.

Some state officials have expressed concern that they have offered the banks far too broad a release from liability. . . . . .

The worry over the states’ counterproposal stems from its treatment of loan documents. The term sheet proposes to release the banks from legal liability over how mortgage documents were maintained, prepared and transferred, people familiar with the matter said.

Though the counteroffer attempts to release the banks from liability with respect to home repossessions, and explicitly states that the release does not include securitisation claims, the language is broad enough in that it could prevent state officials from bringing securitisation claims in the future should they sign up to the agreement.

At the heart of securitisation claims, which involve missteps in how home mortgages were bundled into bonds, are allegations that the banks did not properly maintain and transfer documents from one step in the complicated chain to the next.

If banks are released from liability regarding documentation practices, some industry officials believe they would be able to evade state lawsuits directed at how they bundled the loans into securities.

Robert Sheer observed This proposed a settlement for a pittance of $20 billion is chump change compared what the banks reaped in “direct cash subsidies, virtually zero-interest loans, and the Fed took $2 trillion in bad paper off their hands while the banks exacerbated the banking crisis they had created through additional shady practices.

Matt Taibbi noted, too, that the banks are getting off the hook for really odious offenses:

   The idea behind this federally-guided “settlement” is to concentrate and centralize all the legal exposure accrued by this generation of grotesque banker corruption in one place, put one single price tag on it that everyone can live with, and then stuff the details into a titanium canister before shooting it into deep space.

   This is all about protecting the banks from future enforcement actions on both the civil and criminal sides. The plan is to provide year-after-year, repeat-offending banks like Bank of America with cost certainty… and will also get to know for sure that there are no more criminal investigations in the pipeline.

ship

To give you an indication of how absurdly small a number even $20 billion is relative to the sums of money the banks made unloading worthless crap subprime assets on foreigners, pension funds and other unsuspecting suckers around the world, consider this: in 2008 alone, the state pension fund of Florida, all by itself, lost more than three times that amount ($62 billion) thanks in significant part to investments in these deadly MBS.

The White House and AG Miller are doing everything in their power to discredit Schneiderman and block further investigations that could lead to recovering more than 20 pieces of silver.

1 comment

  1. TMC

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