Posts tagged Bank of America
“Bank of America stealing thousands of homes, and lying to the government about it.” (?)
B of A allegedly abused the HAMP program which was created to help homeowners approaching foreclosure. The bank allegedly threw out the paperwork of applicants who had fulfilled their end of the loan modification bargain, making the homeowner restart the modification process. Many people it is alleged fell into foreclosure who didn’t need to be there simply because the bank couldn’t get it’s act together. In many cases, as the attached article reports, it was worse than just incompetence.
Remember, Bank of America got bailed out by the taxpayers. The bank managed its books far worse than many of the homeowners facing foreclosure. Still mercy was in short supply at the bank.
Putting aside whether programs such as HAMP should have ever happened, and the fact that the housing crash was basically created by a too loose Fed, this is yet another example of a connected bank with all the right friends doing whatever it wanted while the average person with no political clout was left to swing in the breeze.
Bank of America’s mortgage servicing unit systematically lied to homeowners, fraudulently denied loan modifications, and paid their staff bonuses for deliberately pushing people into foreclosure: Yes, these allegations were suspected by any homeowner who ever had to deal with the bank to try to get a loan modification – but now they come from six former employees and one contractor, whose sworn statements were added last week to a civil lawsuit filed in federal court in Massachusetts.
By Andrea Egizi
Posted Jan 4, 2013
It seems like everyone who is paying attention to the fiscal cliff debate has an opinion one way or another about the benefits and disadvantages of the Tuesday night passage of the Senate Bill. The compromise that was agreed upon can be described as a barrel filled with pork for both Democrats and Republicans and their corporate sponsors, being that earmarks and tax breaks for corporations are included amongst the illusion of fiscal relief for the middle and lower classes.
For the left, the tax increases on the super-rich, who make up approximately 0.9 percent of the American population (those individuals earning more than $400,000 or $450,000 per household), was a victory but still managed to fall short of the Obama campaign promise of raising taxes on the top two percent (individuals earning more than $200,000 or $250,000 per household). For the right, the numbers must have added up, seeing as quite a few house Republicans voted in line with the Democrats. This tax increase on rich folks from 35 percent to 39.6 percent will create about $600 billion in revenue over the course of ten years, but with congress’ track record being as shoddy as it is, who knows what programs or misuse it will go to, you know: like the TARP (Troubled Assets Relief Program), where taxpayer money went directly to the banks and CEOs but not to the millions of underwater homeowners that it was designed to assist to avoid foreclosure. But don’t worry, this money will surely not go towards paying down our world-record national debt of $16.4 trillions that was not even addressed by the bill. Economists have predicted that all the expenditure this bill allows will raise the national debt to $20 trillion during the next ten years.
Let us take a look at what else this bill will do to the economy and the American people. For starters, the bill extends for another year Goldman Sachs and Bank of America’s tax break by moving their headquarters to the “Liberty Zone”, a post 9/11 area where the World Trade centers once stood. This tax provision was created to help revitalize Lower Manhattan’s small businesses but instead helped out these two mega-bailed-out banks and helped to subsidize the construction of luxury apartments. Goldman Sachs alone was reported to have received $1.6 billion in tax free financing of its new building.
The Extension of the Active Financing Exception of Sub-part F is a very fancily-worded trade tax loophole; it extends a bill created in 1997 that allows American companies to avoid paying taxes on income from certain transactions called “active financing.” This loophole, a credit of up to $9 billion, basically encourages American companies to move overseas and thus outsource employment from Americans. One of the biggest corporations to abuse this loophole is General Electric (GE).
By Phil Mattera, Dirt Diggers Digest
Home buyers beware: Bank of America is returning to the home loan market. According to the Wall Street Journal, BofA is “girding for a new run at the U.S. mortgage business.”
It apparently wants to reclaim a share of the fat profits that rivals such as Wells Fargo have been enjoying from a mortgage refinancing boom sparked by low interest rates. Those profits are particularly tantalizing given the other recent news about BofA: it reported a 63 percent decline in fourth-quarter net income.
Ironically, that plunge in earnings was caused by BofA’s previous screw-ups in none other than the mortgage market, specifically the billions of dollars it has had to pay Fannie Mae to settle charges that it sold the housing finance agency large quantities of faulty mortgage loans it had originated.
In the most recent settlement with Fannie earlier this month, BofA agreed to pay $10.3 billion while also agreeing to sell off about 20 percent of its loan servicing business. The New York Times front page article on the settlement was headlined: “Big Bank Extends Retreat from Mortgages.”
If two major newspapers are to be believed, in the course of just one week BofA went from retreat to advance. By all rights, BofA should not be allowed to perform this about-face.
BofA, including two companies it acquired in 2008, has done so much harm in both the mortgage market and the mortgage-backed securities market that banishment would be the most appropriate punishment.
Let’s look back at the record. In July 2008 BofA completed the acquisition of the giant mortgage lender Countrywide Financial, which was becoming notorious for pushing borrowers, especially minority customers, into predatory loans and was growing weaker from the large number of those loans that were going into default. Later that year, amid the financial meltdown, BofA was pressured to take over the teetering investment house Merrill Lynch.
Merrill came with a checkered history. In 1998 it had to pay $400 million to settle charges that it helped push Orange County, California into bankruptcy four years earlier with reckless investment advice. In 2002 it agreed to pay $100 million to settle charges that its analysts skewed their advice to promote the firm’s investment banking business. In 2003 it paid $80 million to settle allegations relating to dealings with Enron. In an early indicator of the problem of toxic assets, Merrill announced an $8 billion write-down in 2007. Its mortgage-related losses would climb to more than $45 billion.
BofA participated in the federal government’s Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP), initially receiving $25 billion and then another $20 billion in assistance to help it absorb Merrill, which reported a loss of more than $15 billion in the fourth quarter of 2008. In 2009 BofA agreed to pay $33 million to settle SEC charges that it misled investors about more than $5 billion in bonuses that were being paid to Merrill employees at the time of the firm’s acquisition. In 2010 the SEC announced a new $150 million settlement with BofA concerning the bank’s failure to disclose Merrill’s “extraordinary losses.”
In 2011 BofA agreed to pay $315 million to settle a class-action suit alleging that Merrill had deceived investors when selling mortgage-backed securities. The following year, court filings in a shareholder lawsuit against BofA provided more documentation that bank executives knew in 2008 that the Merrill acquisition would depress BofA earnings for years to come but failed to provide that information to shareholders. In 2012 BofA announced that it would pay $2.43 billion to settle the litigation.
The Countrywide acquisition also came back to haunt BofA. In 2010 it agreed to pay $108 million to settle federal charges that Countrywide’s loan-servicing operations had deceived homeowners who were behind on their payments into paying wildly inflated fees. Four months later, Countrywide founder Angelo Mozilo reached a $67.5 million settlement of civil fraud charges brought by the SEC. As part of an indemnification agreement Mozilo had with Countrywide, BofA paid $20 million of the settlement amount.
In May 2011 BofA reached a $20 million settlement of Justice Department charges that Countrywide had wrongfully foreclosed on active duty members of the armed forces without first obtaining required court orders. And in December 2011 BofA agreed to pay $335 million to settle charges that Countrywide had discriminated against minority customers by charging them higher fees and interest rates during the housing boom. In mid-2012 the Wall Street Journal reported that “people close to the bank” estimated that Countrywide had cost BofA more than $40 billion in real estate losses, legal expenses and settlements with state and federal agencies.
BofA faced its own charges as well. In 2010 it agreed to pay a total of $137.3 million in restitution to federal and state agencies for the participation of its securities unit in a conspiracy to rig bids in the municipal bond derivatives market. In 2011 BofA agreed to pay $2.8 billion to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to settle charges that it sold faulty loans to the housing finance agencies.
BofA was one of five large mortgage servicers that in early 2012 consented to a $25 billion settlement with the federal government and state attorneys general to resolve allegations of loan servicing and foreclosure abuses. Six months later, an independent monitor set up to oversee the settlement reported that BofA had not yet completed any modifications of first-lien mortgages or any refinancings.
Earlier this month, BofA was one of ten major lenders that agreed to pay a total of $8.5 billion to resolve claims of foreclosure abuses. Finally, as noted above, BofA agreed to pay $10.3 billion in a new settlement with Fannie Mae.
BofA claims that it has cleaned up its act, but it is difficult to believe that a bank so closely identified with predatory lending and investor deception has truly changed its ways.
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Note: This piece draws from my new Corporate Rap Sheet on Bank of America, which can be found here.
In this episode, Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert argue over whether things are looking better or worse for the American worker. While Stacy argues that the return of some manufacturing is a sign that wealth creating jobs may return to the US, Max counters that the system is so corrupt that the chances of labor getting any cut of the wealth is nil and that the Internet giants will prevent the rise of a powerful decentralized economy online.
In the second half, Max Keiser talks to Professor Jonathan Feldman about the Global Teach-In and about a boycott and short sale campaign and creating an industrial policy for America because right now the US even outsources some military production to China.
By Ben Protess
Federal prosecutors in New York sued Bank of America on Wednesday, accusing it of carrying out a mortgage scheme that defrauded the government during the depths of the financial crisis.
In a civil complaint that seeks to collect $1 billion from the bank, the Justice Department took aim at a home loan program known as the “hustle,” a venture that has become emblematic of the risk-fueled mortgage bubble. The complaint adds to a flurry of federal and private lawsuits facing Bank of America’s beleaguered mortgage business.
Bank of America inherited the “hustle” home loan program with its purchase of Countrywide Financial in 2008. Prosecutors say the effort, kept alive by Bank of America through 2009, was intended to churn out mortgages at a rapid pace without proper checks on wrongdoing. The bank then sold the “defective” loans without warning to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-controlled housing giants, which were stuck with heavy losses and a glut of foreclosed properties.
Yet again, the Congress, courts, executive branch and the establishment media work together to protect the nation’s most powerful actors
So pervasive and reliable is the rule of elite immunity – even in the face of the most egregious crimes – that one finds extreme examples on a weekly basis. Six weeks ago, the Obama justice department forever precluded the possibility of criminal accountability for Bush torturers by refusing to bring charges in the only two remaining torture cases, ones involving the deaths of the detainee-victims by torture.
The Obama campaign is now running a new campaign ad against Mitt Romney that rails against a litany of Wall Street “criminals” and “gluttons of greed”, but as David Dayen astutely notes, those examples were all imprisoned during the Bush era because the Obama administration has prosecuted no significant Wall Street executives for the 2008 financial collapseand thus have none of their own examples to highlight:
“So the Obama campaign could not fill a list of three Wall Street criminals that the Obama Justice Department actually sent to jail. Heck, they couldn’t fill a list of one!
“This is despite Eric Holder telling students at Columbia University in February of this year that his Justice Department’s record of success on fighting financial fraud crimes ‘has been nothing less than historic.’ But not historic enough that his boss could point to, well, one Wall Street criminal behind bars as a result of DoJ’s actions.
That’s painfully telling. Nobody from Bank of America or Wells Fargo or Citigroup or JPMorgan Chase or Goldman Sachs or Bear Stearns or Morgan Stanley or Merrill Lynch or even Countrywide or Ameriquest was available to stand in as a ‘glutton of greed’ in this advertisement. Literally no major figure responsible for the financial crisis has gone to jail. So the campaign has to use two CEOs from a decade-old accounting scandal, and a garden-variety Ponzi schemer.”
And now, the US supreme court just consecrated one of the most corrupt acts of the US government over the past decade: its vesting of retroactive legal immunity in the nation’s telecom giants after they had been caught red-handed violating multiple US eavesdropping laws. Just as the Obama DOJ forever precluded any legal accountability for Bush-era torturers, the supreme court on Tuesday forever precluded any legal accountability for AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and other telecoms for their crucial participation in the illegal Bush NSA warrantless eavesdropping program (the Obama DOJ, needless to say, supported the position of the telecoms).
When the New York Times revealed on 16 December 2005 that the Bush administration was spying on the telephone calls and emails of American citizens without the warrants required by the criminal law, it exposed lawbreaking not only by government officials but also by the nation’s largest telecoms. Multiple laws were in place at the time imposing both criminal and civil liability on telecoms for enabling government spying on the communications of their customers without warrants or other legal authority, and that is exactly what these telecoms did. One former AT&T employee, Mark Klein, publicly described how AT&T had even built a separate room with no purpose but to permit the National Security Agency unfettered access to all of its customers’ communications.
Supreme Court ruling of Washington State (Fraud) Foreclosure victims can sue the banks via “Consumer Protection Act”0
They can sue the banks for previous Fraudclosures through the “Consumer Protection Act.”
The state Supreme Court yesterday called into question numerous foreclosures that have been done in this state, and opened the door for lawsuits by homeowners given the boot. Just how many foreclosures are we talking about? “Hundreds if not thousands,” says Melissa Huelsman, a lawyer representing one of the plaintiffs in the case.
Huelsman points to another aspect of the ruling that she finds highly significant. It opens the door for homeowners who have faced MERS foreclosures to sue under the state Consumer Protection Act. “Characterizing MERS as the beneficiary has the capacity to deceive,” the justices opined, adding that homeowners would have to prove they were damaged.
(Reuters) – U.S. regulators directed five of the country’s biggest banks, including Bank of America Corp and Goldman Sachs Group Inc, to develop plans for staving off collapse if they faced serious problems, emphasizing that the banks could not count on government help.
By Rick Rothacker
Fri Aug 10, 2012 8:41am EDT
The two-year-old program, which has been largely secret until now, is in addition to the “living wills” the banks crafted to help regulators dismantle them if they actually do fail. It shows how hard regulators are working to ensure that banks have plans for worst-case scenarios and can act rationally in times of distress.
Officials like Lehman Brothers former Chief Executive Dick Fuld have been criticized for having been too hesitant to take bold steps to solve their banks’ problems during the financial crisis.
According to documents obtained by Reuters, the Federal Reserve and the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency first directed five banks – which also include Citigroup Inc,, Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan Chase & Co – to come up with these “recovery plans” in May 2010.
Courtesy of LRC:
Posted by Lew Rockwell on August 10, 2012 11:41 AM
Like adopting 100% reserves? Nope. The inherently bankrupt will stay that way, until—no matter what this article claims—they need a few trillion from the Fed.
The biggest banks in the US have been given advisement by US regulators that they must make plans to stave off a complete financial collapse without relying on the US government. Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and other technocrats have secretly crafted worst-case scenarios in which they can continue to thrive during a full-blown domestic monetary crisis.
The Federal Reserve and the US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) named Citigroup Inc., Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan Chase & Co. as well as others to devise “recovery plans” in 2010. Banks were directed to have schemes to remain afloat by selling off assets, finding alternative sources of funding, reducing risky measures that make a quick buck. These strategies were to be perfected with “no assumption of extraordinary support from the public sector.”
Resolution plans , required under the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law describe how to liquidate banking assets without causing further damage to a failing financial system. By selling “non-core assets” without upsetting shareholders while protecting the monetary system, taxpayers and creditors is the work of the mega-banks who have contributed solely to the destruction of the global financial markets.
On the Sunday, August 12 edition of Infowars Live, Alex hosts Max Keiser discussing the ravaged state of the U.S. economy and fragility of markets as published in a recent Fox News article The Coming Economic Collapse.