Legal Issues

Browse articles from all of our Newsletters related to Legal Issues.

February 17, 2017 - Inside FHA/VA Lending

Lender, Charity Hid Defaults from FHA to Manipulate Default Rate

Three federal agencies have announced a joint settlement agreement and consent order with a New York FHA lender and several of its top executives to resolve alleged violations of the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act and the False Claims Act. The U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, the Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Inspector General of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. announced the $1.25 million settlement with Franklin First Financial, Ltd., its Chief Executive Officer Frederick Assini, Chief Operating Officer Christopher Berman, and Andrew Dauro, a manager of the company. The lawsuit alleged that the defendants made illegal payments on behalf of borrowers from February 2009 through March 2010 to keep default rates low so that Franklin First could keep its ...


February 17, 2017 - Inside FHA/VA Lending

4Q16 Spike in FHA Delinquencies Justifies Trump’s Premium Action

The spike in FHA delinquencies in the fourth quarter of 2016 justifies the Trump administration’s decision last month to suspend and review the outgoing administration’s lowering of FHA mortgage insurance premiums, said House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-TX. Commenting on the Mortgage Bankers Association’s quarterly delinquency rate survey, Hensarling praised President Trump’s decision to set aside the 25-basis-point premium reduction, which Inside FHA/VA Lending reported first on Jan. 6, 2017. “Lowering premiums at this time was a big mistake,” said Hensarling. “The sudden increase in delinquencies makes it clear that President Trump was absolutely right to undo the previous administration’s irresponsible action.” Hensarling recalled that in 2013 “taxpayers had to spend $1.7 billion to bail out the FHA.” Going forward, the FHA must be fiscally sound, with a ...


February 17, 2017 - Inside MBS & ABS

Blackstone’s Next Mortgage Conquest: Fix-and- Flip Lenders That Could Lead to Securitization

Wall Street giant The Blackstone Group this week revealed its investment in “fix and flip” lenders B2R Finance, Charlotte, and Jordan Capital Finance, Chicago, spurring talk that eventually the firm may enter the fledgling nonprime residential market. One nonprime executive, requesting anonymity, told Inside MBS & ABS that he has had several discussions with Blackstone-related companies about partnering with his shop. Issuing MBS is one of the company’s goals, he said, adding: “They want in.” Over the past three years, Blackstone has made...


February 16, 2017 - Inside Mortgage Finance

If President Trump Wants to Fire CFPB’s Cordray, He’s Going About it All Wrong, Law Professor Says

Whether President Trump is serious about replacing the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau remains to be seen. But his enthusiasm over the prospect may have gotten the better of his legal judgement and in fact perhaps laid the foundation for such a replacement to be reversed, one noted legal scholar suggested recently. “If Trump is planning on attempting to remove CFPB Director Richard Cordray ‘for cause,’ he’s hardly going about it in a smart way,” Adam Levitin, a law professor at Georgetown University, said in a recent online blog posting. “The Trump administration keeps generating more and more evidence that any for-cause removal would be purely pretextual, which strengthens Cordray’s hand were he to litigate the removal order (as he surely would).” To begin with, the reasons that are offered as justification for sacking Cordray – such as claims of employee discrimination at the bureau or the agency’s settlements with auto finance companies – refer...


February 13, 2017 - Inside the CFPB

Other News in Brief

Hensarling Threatens to Use Budget Reconciliation Process to Push Through CHOICE Act 2.0. Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-TX, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, raised some industry eyebrows last week when details of his new, more aggressive Financial CHOICE Act got leaked to the press, and he indicated he might use the budget reconciliation process to push the bill through Congress.... CFPB Brings Legal Action Against Debt Relief Law Firms, Attorneys. The CFPB recently sued Howard Law PC, Williamson Law Firm LLC, and Williamson & Howard LLP, as well as attorneys Vincent Howard and Lawrence Williamson, in federal court, accusing them of collaborating to charge illegal fees to consumers looking for debt relief....


February 13, 2017 - Inside the CFPB

John Doe Co. Action Another Test of CFPB’s Investigative Authority

The unusual recent case of an unidentified finance company filing suit to prevent the CFPB from disclosing its investigation of the firm, and from bringing any action against it unless and until the agency is restructured in line with the U.S. Constitution, is “yet another challenge to the CFPB’s vast investigative and enforcement authority,” according to two attorneys with the Hudson Cook law firm. “This is a new front in the battle against CFPB overreach,” the pair said in a client note. The stakes here can be high. “Companies facing a CFPB investigation often confront a difficult choice of complying with the investigative demand or fighting the CFPB’s authority,” said the attorneys. “But challenging the CFPB is an uphill battle ...


February 13, 2017 - Inside the CFPB

PHH Succeeds in Fending Off Intervenors in Dispute with CFPB

PHH Corp. won another round against some new antagonists in its dispute with the CFPB over alleged violations of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act. Earlier this month, a three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit agreed with the lender and refused to allow three separate efforts to intervene in the case. In a simple, single-page order, the three judges “ordered that the motions be denied.” The ruling affects an effort by Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-OH, and Rep. Maxine Waters, D-CA, to insert themselves in the case on behalf of the CFPB. The lawmakers had warned the appeals court that if their effort to intervene was denied, they would seek recourse from ...


February 13, 2017 - Inside the CFPB

Latest RESPA Case Reveals New Things About CFPB Enforcement

An analysis by the Mortgage Bankers Association of the CFPB’s latest foray back into the enforcement of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act noted that some of the allegations in the consent orders would have been troubling under the enforcement regime of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. However, the orders also highlight several new points in the way the bureau is enforcing Section 8 of RESPA, the MBA said. “These include that the arrangements steer consumers, exclude other competitors, and were arrived at based on internal analyses of business and that click-throughs to lenders in joint marketing arrangements somehow amount to compensated referrals,” the trade group said. Further, the consent order addressing Planet Home Lending also clarifies that ...


February 13, 2017 - Inside the CFPB

Brokers, Servicer Also Sanctioned By CFPB in Prospect RESPA Case

In addition to bringing an enforcement action against Prospect Mortgage for alleged violations of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, the CFPB also acted against ReMax Gold Coast and Keller Williams Mid-Willamette, two real estate brokers, and Planet Home Lending, a mortgage servicer – all of whom it accused of taking illegal kickbacks from the lender. Specifically, the CFPB accused both brokers of participating in “certain lead agreements and desk license agreements” with Prospect Mortgage, and of accepting payments from the lender in exchange for referrals in violation of RESPA and its implementing regulation, Regulation X. The bureau also said RGC’s agents “required hundreds of consumers wishing to place an offer on one of their properties offered for sale to pre-qualify ...


February 13, 2017 - Inside the CFPB

CFPB Back in RESPA Enforcement Game With Standard Interpretation

The CFPB recently brought a more traditional interpretation to its enforcement of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act in an action against Prospect Mortgage, two real estate brokers and a mortgage servicer that focuses on alleged kickbacks for referrals of mortgage business. Among the lender’s alleged violations of RESPA was the use of lead agreements to pay brokers for referrals. According to the CFPB’s consent order, Prospect entered into such agreements with more than 200 different counterparties, most of which were real estate brokers. Under these arrangements, Prospect paid the counterparty for each lead it received. However, these counterparties went “well beyond simply transferring information about prospective buyers,” the CFPB alleged. They also referred prospective buyers to Prospect’s loan officers....


February 10, 2017 - Inside The GSEs

Judge Rejects Government Efforts To Keep Docs Privileged

After the government stalled on a September ruling to turn over close to 60 documents regarding the GSEs’ net worth sweep, a judge rejected its appeal. The court ordered the government to disclose the bulk of the documents to the plaintiff’s attorneys in Fairholme Funds Inc. v. United States. The U.S. Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac investors, upholding Judge Margaret Sweeney’s earlier decision. The government is to release all…


February 10, 2017 - Inside The GSEs

Fairholme Defends ‘Recap and Release’ Concept for GSEs

Fairholme Capital Management, in a new letter to clients, once again lays out its argument for investing in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac stock, but also takes a subtle, but polite, swipe at those opposed to a “recap-and-release” plan for the GSEs. “Only the disingenuous would assert that recapitalization of these companies would take decades and come at taxpayers’ expense, as if retaining earnings precluded the ability of each company to raise equity from private investors,” the mutual fund manager writes. Fairholme also notes that it owns GSE junior preferred shares – as opposed to common – because “…the provisions of the preferred stock contracts that...


February 9, 2017 - Inside Mortgage Finance

PHH Prevails in Rejecting Intervenors in CFPB Dispute

Late last week, a three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit agreed with arguments made by PHH Corp. and blocked three separate efforts to intervene in the dispute the lender has with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. In a simple, single-page order, the three judges "ordered that the motions be denied." The ruling affects...


February 3, 2017 - Inside FHA/VA Lending

MBA Concerned About Lack of Consumer Protections in PACE

The Mortgage Bankers Association has asked the Trump administration to help close a loophole in the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program that could put consumers at risk. In a recent public service video, Pete Mills, MBA senior vice president for residential policy and member engagement, said the MBA has been in contact with the president’s transition team to see if there is a way to incorporate consumer protections into the program. Mills noted a “significant void in consumer protection” due to the structure of PACE programs. The PACE program allows local or state governments, when authorized by state law, to finance the upfront cost of energy upgrades on commercial, residential or industrial properties. A PACE loan is repaid over a set period – typically 10 to 20 years – through a special assessment on the property on top of the owner’s annual property tax bills. It has seniority over all ...


February 3, 2017 - Inside FHA/VA Lending

Carson Wants a ‘Housing Finance Specialist’ as FHA Commissioner

Housing and Urban Secretary-Designate Ben Carson said he would want an expert in housing finance to lead the FHA and help draw disillusioned lenders back into the FHA single-family mortgage program. In a written response to questions from Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-OH, ranking minority member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, Carson provided no detail on how he would entice previous lenders to return to the FHA. Carson made clear, however, that if confirmed he would seek a “strong housing finance practitioner who believes in the mission of the FHA” for the job of FHA commissioner. “We will work hard to balance mission and risk to preserve and sustain FHA now and into the future,” he wrote. “We will also use existing authorities to increase the certainty of loan eligibility in an effort to attract back many of the lenders who are no longer ...


February 3, 2017 - Inside MBS & ABS

Societe Generale Settles MBS Fraud Case for $50 Million; Judge Allows Suit Against Deutsche Bank to Proceed

Societe Generale has agreed to pay $50 million to the Department of Justice to settle civil charges alleging it misled investors by promoting and selling securities backed by badly underwritten mortgage loans. According to the DOJ, the French bank made false representations regarding SG Mortgage Securities Trust 2006-OPT2, a $780 million debt issue it organized more than 10 years ago. As part of the settlement, SocGen admitted that many of the loans in the deal were improperly underwritten and should not have been securitized. For example, the bank admitted...


February 3, 2017 - Inside MBS & ABS

Fed Judge Puts an End to the Stall: Government Must Release Documents to GSE Shareholders in Legal Case

A federal appeals court has rejected government efforts to reverse a September ruling by Federal Claims Court Judge Margaret Sweeney ordering the government to turn over various memos, emails and presentations to investors in litigation involving the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac net worth sweep. On Jan. 30, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled in favor of investors in the two government-sponsored enterprises, upholding Sweeney’s earlier decision, and ordered the government to release 48 of the 56 documents because they don’t merit privilege treatment. Eight of the documents were...


February 2, 2017 - Inside Mortgage Finance

Community Banks Call for Curbs on ‘Fair Lending Overreach,’ Seek Elimination of Disparate Impact from Fair Lending Laws

The Independent Community Bankers of America is urging the Trump administration to push for the elimination of disparate impact from federal fair lending laws to curb “fair lending overreach” and unwarranted enforcement actions against community banks. The ICBA is seeking an amendment to federal fair lending laws to bar certain disparate-impact causes of action. The amendment would clarify that disparate impact without a finding of an intent to discriminate is not a fair lending violation. “This would ensure that community banks that uniformly apply sound and neutral lending standards are not subjected to unnecessary regulatory enforcement actions or frivolous and abusive lawsuits,” said Lilly Thomas, ICBA senior vice president and senior regulatory counsel. Thomas said...


February 2, 2017 - Inside Mortgage Finance

As Legal Action in PHH v. CFPB Continues, Agency Brings RESPA Action Against Prospect Mortgage

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau this week announced a Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act enforcement action against a nonbank lender that appears to reflect a traditional interpretation of the law’s anti-kickback provisions, while a flurry of new paperwork fell on its controversial legal battle with PHH Mortgage. The bureau this week brought a $3.5 million enforcement action against Prospect Mortgage, accusing the firm of illegal kickbacks for mortgage business referrals from real estate brokers, and in an unusual twist, a mortgage servicing operation. The CFPB said...


January 30, 2017 - Inside the CFPB

Also in Brief: Other Regulatory News

OCC Revises CRA Asset Thresholds for Small and Intermediate Small Banks and Savings Associations. Earlier this month, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency revised the asset-size threshold amounts used to define “small bank,” “small savings association,” “intermediate small bank,” and “intermediate small savings association” under the Community Reinvestment Act. ... OCC Adjusts Civil Money Penalties for Inflation. Late last week, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency announced it was adjusting the maximum amount of each civil money penalty within its jurisdiction. ...


January 30, 2017 - Inside the CFPB

Other News in Brief

Republicans Again Introduce Legislation to Change CFPB Leadership Structure to a Board. Republican Sens. Deb Fischer (NE), Ron Johnson (WI) and John Barrasso (WY), recently introduced S. 105, legislation that would replace the CFPB’s single-director leadership structure with a bipartisan, five-member board. ... Cordray Assures CFPB Staff Re: PHH Dispute in October Email. In an Oct. 17, 2016, email to “all hands” at the CFPB, a copy of which was obtained by Inside the CFPB, the agency’s director, Richard Cordray, offered some words of reassurance in light of the decision by the three-judge panel of the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals that found the bureau’s leadership structure was unconstitutional. ...


January 30, 2017 - Inside the CFPB

OIG Audits CFPB Use of Vendors to Analyze Fair Lending Compliance

The CFPB Office of Inspector General recently initiated an evaluation of the bureau’s use of vendors to support its analysis of fair lending compliance, the OIG indicated in its latest work plan. The OIG begins by noting, among other responsibilities, the CFPB is charged with providing oversight and enforcement of federal laws intended to ensure the fair, equitable and nondiscriminatory access to credit. But what may surprise many in the industry is to learn that the agency relies on external vendors to help fulfill this responsibility. “Our objective is to assess whether the CFPB effectively mitigates the risk associated with the use of vendors to support fair lending analysis, particularly with respect to potential conflicts of interest,” said the OIG ...


January 30, 2017 - Inside the CFPB

Successor-in-Interest Confirmation Process a Challenge for Servicers

Putting in place a successor-in-interest confirmation process that complies with the CFPB’s updated mortgage servicing rules is going to be a big hurdle for mortgage servicers to overcome, according to attorneys with the Bradley law firm. “Arguably the most significant element of the recent amendments to the existing mortgage servicing regulatory framework by the CFPB is the new structure that has been laid out for dealing with potential and confirmed successors in interest,” the attorneys said in a recent online blog post. As they see it, fully complying with the new rule is going to require a significant amount of institutional exertion, no matter a servicer’s size. “One of the more time-intensive – and therefore costly – aspects of the rule is ...


January 30, 2017 - Inside the CFPB

JPMorgan Chase Settles DOJ Allegations of Bias for $53M

JPMorgan Chase Bank last week agreed to a $53 million settlement with the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, bringing to a close allegations of discriminatory lending against minority borrowers through its wholesale-broker channel in violation of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act and the Fair Housing Act. According to the consent order, prior to January 2006 and continuing until early 2009, Chase originated and funded residential mortgage loans through a wholesale channel. “Applications for these loans were brought to Chase by thousands of independent mortgage brokers throughout the United States who had entered into contracts with Chase for the purpose of bringing mortgage loan applications to it for origination and funding.” Also, from 2006 to 2009, approximately ...


January 30, 2017 - Inside the CFPB

CFPB Tags Citi Subs $29 Million Over Mortgage Servicing Practices

The CFPB last week slapped CitiFinancial Servicing and CitiMortgage a relatively modest $28.8 million for allegedly keeping struggling borrowers in the dark about options available to save their homes. The bureau’s action had to do with the company’s origination and servicing of residential daily simple interest mortgages, especially as they relate to deferments. The CFPB accused CitiFinancial Servicing of misleading consumers about the effect of deferring payment due dates, charging consumers for credit insurance that should have been canceled, prematurely cancelling credit insurance for some borrowers, sending inaccurate consumer information to credit reporting companies, and failing to investigate consumer disputes. The bureau is requiring CitiMortgage to pay an estimated $17.0 million to compensate wronged consumers, and to pay a civil ...


January 30, 2017 - Inside the CFPB

Trump May Wait for New AG Before He Sacks CFPB Director Cordray

It’s Monday and Richard Cordray is still the director of the CFPB, despite a whirlwind of sometimes conflicting news reports and rumors. Into last week, one continuing narrative (or trial balloon, perhaps) was that President Trump was on the verge of sacking Cordray “any day now.” But in the last few days, the latest line is that the Trump administration won’t fire Cordray until the Senate confirms Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-AL, to be the next attorney general of the United States. The reason: the legal battle that would (presumably) ensue if he is fired will require a permanent AG to be in place and not just an acting top cop. Then again, the Trump administration seems to like to shoot ...


January 30, 2017 - Inside the CFPB

John Doe Company Says CFPB Can’t Act Against it After PHH

In a case of potential significance for any company that finds itself the recipient of a civil investigative demand from the CFPB, a finance company has filed suit to prevent the bureau from disclosing its investigation of the firm and from taking any action against it unless and until the agency is restructured in line with the U.S. Constitution. “Plaintiff moves for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction prohibiting the CFPB and its director from using the executive, legislative and judicial powers delegated to the bureau to impose any restriction on plaintiffs’ liberty or otherwise take any action adverse to plaintiff unless and until the bureau is constitutionally structured,” said the company. The corporate entity, chartered in California with ...


January 30, 2017 - Inside the CFPB

Democrats, Advocates File in Defense of CFPB Versus PHH

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-OH, and Rep. Maxine Waters, D-CA, late last week submitted a motion with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit seeking to intervene on behalf of the CFPB in its action against PHH Corp. “Movants now seek to intervene in this litigation because recent events have made it clear that their interests in preserving the leadership structure they voted for [in enacting the Dodd-Frank Act] may no longer be adequately represented by the new administration,” Brown and Waters argued. “Indeed, absent intervention, it is possible that the panel’s decision will be insulated from review, thus nullifying movants’ votes to establish the CFPB as an independent agency and their ability to establish similar independent ...


January 30, 2017 - Inside the CFPB

PHH Disputes DOJ Arguments in Support of En Banc Rehearing

Late last week, PHH Corp. followed up on the opportunity afforded it by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and filed its legal response to the arguments the Department of Justice made late last year in defense of the CFPB’s petition for an en banc rehearing in its dispute with the mortgage lender. The DOJ’s brief “asserts support for rehearing en banc, but not for any of the reasons advanced by the CFPB,” PHH said. “Indeed, the brief never actually defends the CFPB’s structure as consistent with the Constitution. Nor does the brief claim anywhere that the panel erred in its choice of remedy, its decision to reach the separation-of-powers issue, or its discussion of ...


January 27, 2017 - Inside The GSEs

GSE Lawsuit Plaintiffs Hopeful New Administratin is on Their Side

With the Trump administration now officially in office, GSE shareholders are optimistic about their cases against Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac being resolved. Investors Unite hosted a call last week during which legal experts weighed in on the outlook for GSE shareholder cases. Plaintiffs have been arguing that a government bailout of the GSEs and the subsequent Treasury sweep were unnecessary and illegal. John Yoo, Heller Professor of Law at the University of California Berkley School of Law, said he thinks the election makes a big difference because it gives an incoming president the opportunity to review the constitutional claims of the last president and decide whether to change them.


January 27, 2017 - Inside The GSEs

SCOTUS Ruling Limits Fannie's Access to Federal Court

The Supreme Court of the United States ruled last week that Fannie Mae does not have the right to automatically transfer a case from state court to federal court under the “sue-and-be-sued” clause. In the ruling from the Lightfoot v. Cendant Mortgage Corp. case, the court rejected an argument stating that the GSE’s federal charter creates federal jurisdiction. The case was argued in November. The ruling by Justice Sonia Sotomayor reversed an earlier Ninth Circuit Court decision which stated that Fannie’s sue-and-be-sued clause in the charter enabled it to transfer state-filed lawsuits against it to federal court. But that’s not the case anymore. “Fannie Mae’s sue-and-be-sued clause is most naturally read not to grant...


January 27, 2017 - Inside The GSEs

FHFA Takes Over as Plaintiff in GSE Shareholder Lawsuit

A federal court ruled that GSE shareholders can no longer sue Fannie Mae’s accounting firm, Deloitte & Touche, and that the Federal Housing Finance Agency will take over as plaintiff in the Edwards et al v. Deloitte & Touche case. The ruling, handed down last week in the U.S. District Court of Florida, distanced shareholders from the case, and said any claims against Deloitte are the sole responsibility of ...


January 26, 2017 - Inside Mortgage Finance

JPMorgan Chase Agrees to Pay $53 Million to DOJ to Resolve Allegations of Lending Bias Against Minorities

The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York has announced a $53 million settlement agreement with JPMorgan Chase Bank to resolve alleged discriminatory lending through its wholesale broker channel in violation of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act and the Fair Housing Act. Filed last week in Manhattan federal court, the U.S. Attorney’s complaint accused Chase of improperly steering African-American and Hispanic borrowers into certain loan products and charging them higher interest rates and fees than comparable white borrowers between 2006 and 2009. During the period, approximately 360,000 brokered mortgage loans were delivered...


January 20, 2017 - Inside MBS & ABS

Former Jeffries Group Bond Trader Faces Another Trial on MBS Fraud

After a two-year rollercoaster ride through the court system that ended in 2015, a former Wall Street trader finds himself facing another trial in an MBS fraud case. Jess Litvak, a former bond trader with the Jeffries Group, will go on trial again after a jury found him guilty in 2014 of violating securities laws. He was accused of fraud and misleading investors about the price he had paid for residential MBS. According to attorneys with the law firm of Shepherd Smith Edwards & Kantas in Houston, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Connecticut originally brought...


January 20, 2017 - Inside MBS & ABS

GSE Shareholder Case Outlook, Will the Trump Administration Make a Difference?

As a number of shareholder lawsuits against Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac hang in the balance, a new administration offers reasons for some to be optimistic on the cases coming to a close and the Treasury’s sweep of the government-sponsored enterprises’ profits coming to an end. During a Jan. 18 call hosted by Investors Unite, legal experts weighed in on the outlook for GSE shareholder cases just days before the inauguration. Plaintiffs have been arguing that a government bailout of the GSEs and the subsequent Treasury sweep was unnecessary and illegal. “As GSE shareholders, we are...


January 20, 2017 - Inside MBS & ABS

Moody’s Settles Pre-Crisis Rating Charges for $864 Million; SEC Cites Rating Services for More Recent Problems

Moody’s Investors Service agreed to a $863.79 million settlement with the Department of Justice, 21 states and Washington, DC, late last week. The settlement focused on rating activities between 2004 and 2010 involving residential MBS and collateralized debt obligations. According to the settlement, Moody’s used an internal ratings model for most tranches of certain residential MBS that was more lenient than its published guidelines, allowing for lower credit enhancement levels than what the published guidelines required. The internal model was based...


January 19, 2017 - Inside Mortgage Finance

PHH Corp. Convinces Appeals Court to Let It Respond to Government’s Brief in CFPB Dispute

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit last week gave PHH Corp. the green light to weigh in on the legal arguments the Justice Department made late last year in support of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s petition for an en banc rehearing of its dispute with the lender. The appeals court did so over the objections of the CFPB, and with 11 of the 12 judges in agreement and one not participating. PHH had argued that it ought to be able to respond to the second of two government arguments in favor of the review. Privately, some industry insiders thought...


January 19, 2017 - Inside Mortgage Finance

Trump Eyes Neugebauer to Replace CFPB’s Cordray, Legal Experts Divided as to Extent of His Authority

What once seemed like an idle speculation – the potential ouster of Richard Cordray as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – suddenly looks more likely. Last week, President-elect Donald Trump met with Randy Neugebauer, the former Texas Republican member of the House Financial Services Committee, who is under consideration as a replacement for Cordray, according to multiple press accounts. Neugebauer reportedly has not been offered the job, as of press time, nor have other candidates been considered for the position. “I heard...


January 16, 2017 - Inside the CFPB

Other News in Brief

Trump Administration Staffs up Bureau ‘Landing Team.’ The transition team of the incoming administration of President-elect Trump recently announced the members of its CFPB “landing team,” one of whom is Paul Atkins, currently CEO of Patomak Global Partners, a consulting firm. Atkins is a former commissioner at the Securities and Exchange Commission.... House, Senate Re-tool for 115th Congress. Congressional leaders have updated their committee and subcommittee leadership assignments for a new Congress that promises to put more heat than ever on the CFPB, now that a Republican will occupy the White House for the first time since the passage of the Dodd-Frank Act and the establishment of the bureau....


January 16, 2017 - Inside the CFPB

Justice Dept. Settles Redlining Allegations With Two Ohio Banks

The U.S. Department of Justice recently reached a settlement with two jointly owned but independently operated banks in Ohio, Union Savings Bank and Guardian Savings Bank, resolving allegations that the pair engaged in a pattern or practice of redlining predominantly African-American neighborhoods in and around the Ohio cities of Cincinnati, Columbus and Dayton, as well as in Indianapolis. According to the government’s complaint, Union (with $2.7 billion in assets and 29 branches) and Guardian (with $861 million in assets and 11 branches) violated the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, which prohibit financial institutions from discriminating on the basis of race and color in their mortgage lending practices. The Justice Department alleges that, from at least 2010 ...


January 16, 2017 - Inside the CFPB

HSBC Slammed With $33 Million Fine Over Flawed Foreclosures

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency recently fined HSBC $32.5 million for failure to correct faulty foreclosure practices in a timely manner as per a consent order originally issued back in 2011 to correct practices that harmed borrowers in the wake of the housing market’s collapse. The OCC also said the institution failed to file payment change notices (PCN) that complied with bankruptcy rules, which resulted in roughly $3.5 million in borrower remediation for approximately 1,700 mortgage loan accounts. “The bank’s untimely and missed PCN filing practices did not comply with bankruptcy rules, required the bank to undertake operational enhancements to achieve compliance, and were unsafe and unsound practices,” according to the consent order. The bank neither admitted ...


January 16, 2017 - Inside the CFPB

PHH Corp. May Have an Ally In Case Against CFPB

While many in the mortgage industry wait for the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals to decide whether to rehear the arguments of the CFPB in its wrangling with PHH, the plaintiffs in State National Bank of Big Spring, Texas, et al. v. Lew, et al. have stepped back onto the legal stage at the district court level. Specifically, “Plaintiffs respectfully move [the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia] to hold a status conference at its earliest convenience to determine how this case ... can be most efficiently adjudicated in light of the CFPB’s petition for en banc review of the panel decision in PHH Corp. v. CFPB,” State National Bank and its parties asked the appeals ...


January 16, 2017 - Inside the CFPB

Appeals Court Grants PHH’s Request to Respond to USSG

Late last week, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals disregarded the objections of the CFPB and gave PHH Corp. permission to respond to the federal government’s arguments in support of en banc review of the court’s earlier three-judge panel decision.“Upon consideration of petitioners’ motion for leave to file a supplemental response to petition for rehearing en banc, the opposition thereto, and the reply, it is ordered that the motion be granted,” 11 of the 12 judges wrote in an order issued Jan. 13. PHH’s supplemental response is due Jan. 27, 2017, and is not to exceed 15 pages. Back in October, the three Republican appointees ruled that the CFPB’s leadership structure involving a single director who can be ...


January 16, 2017 - Inside the CFPB

CFPB Defenders Urge Trump White House to Keep Cordray at Helm

With the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States now just days away, anxiety among defenders of the CFPB that its director, Richard Cordray, may be booted is intensifying, prompting some of his more vocal supporters to make impassioned public pleas to defend him and preserve the agency he heads. Up on Capitol Hill, Democrats on the House Financial Services Committee urged the new president to “reject the Wall Street agenda” and not remove Cordray from his post. “Any attempts to remove Director Cordray from his position are without historical precedent, and intended solely to distract the director and the bureau from its important work protecting servicemembers, students and other borrowers from financial predation,” the ...


January 13, 2017 - Inside MBS & ABS

Judge OKs BofA Settlement; SEC to Resubmit Payout Plan; Court Affirms Dismissal of Repurchase Claims

Judge William Pauley of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York has approved a $335 million settlement by Bank of America with three pension funds and other investors to resolve a securities class-action against the bank. The settlement is one of the largest class-action settlements of securities-purchase claims arising from the financial crisis, according to the Pennsylvania Public School Employees’ Retirement System (PSERS), the court appointed lead plaintiff in the six-year old case. Other investors include...


January 6, 2017 - Inside FHA/VA Lending

Around the Industry

VA Extends Making Home Affordable Program. The Department of Veterans Affairs has extended the Making Home Affordable program to Oct. 1, 2017. The program was set to expire on Jan. 1, 2017. USDA Approves NewFed Mortgage to originate Section 52 Guaranteed Rural Housing Loans. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved NewFed Mortgage Corp., a multi-state residential mortgage lender, to originate USDA loans. Based in Danvers, MA, retailer NewFed offers FHA, VA, USDA, conventional and jumbo mortgage products. Reviews Genworth Financial’s Proposed Sale to Chinese Conglomerate. Fannie Mae has approved Arch Capital’s acquisition of ...


January 6, 2017 - Inside FHA/VA Lending

Michigan Lender Agrees to Pay $48 Million to Resolve FCA Claims

United Shore Financial Services of Troy, MI, has agreed to pay $48 million to resolve allegations of FHA-related fraud, adding to the more than $7 billion in settlements and judgments the Department of Justice has collected since 2009. United Shore, parent company of United Wholesale Mortgage and Shore Mortgage, was accused of improperly originating mortgages and falsely certifying compliance with FHA requirements. Originated between Jan. 1, 2006, and Dec. 31, 2011, the loans eventually turned bad, resulting in significant losses to the FHA insurance fund. The complaint did not specify the number and total amount of the bad loans United Shore originated or the size of FHA’s losses on those loans. United Shore was charged with violation of the False Claims Act, becoming the latest financial institution to join a growing list of FHA lenders that have opted to settle, rather than litigate, ...


January 6, 2017 - Inside FHA/VA Lending

Carson’s Inexperience Front and Center in Confirmation Hearing

The lack of experience in housing and mortgage financing matters could become a sticking point with Dr. Ben Carson, President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Housing and Urban Development secretary, during his Senate confirmation hearing on Jan. 12, according to stakeholders. “Democrats, in particular, will want to know his credentials and positions on various housing and enforcement issues,” said an industry observer. “There is doubt whether Carson can address such questions positively and specifically. ‘Living for a while in public housing’ is not a qualification to run HUD or oversee FHA for that matter.” However, Trump’s selection of Carson and other conservatives for cabinet positions signals his intent to govern from the right – a complete reversal from the eight years under President Obama. Notwithstanding his lack of housing expertise, Carson is on the path to promote and ...


January 6, 2017 - Inside FHA/VA Lending

FHA to Implement Methodology for Finding, Classifying Loan Defects

The FHA this year will focus mainly on the completion and implementation of the Defect Taxonomy to help lenders easily identify and categorize loan defects found in FHA-insured loans. At least that was the plan announced by the outgoing Obama administration. The agency urged lenders to be on the lookout for detailed information about Defect Taxonomy and other process improvements in the coming months. “As we begin to implement these changes and transition from current processes, some lenders may experience a temporary decrease in loans selected for review,” the FHA noted in Lender Insight, which updates lenders on the latest rulemakings and policy changes. Announced in June last year, Defect Taxonomy is part of the Blueprint for Access, which embodies three core concepts: identifying a defect, capturing the sources and causes of a defect, and assessing the ...


Poll

With rates higher this year, there has been talk of lenders liberalizing their underwriting standards in an effort to increase volume and make up for lower refis.

Do you think your shop will loosen standards over the coming three months?

Yes, but not by much.
Yes, by a lot.
Yes and, heck, we may even do non-QM lending.
No, not at all.
No and we may even tighten credit.

vote to see results