A year after some of the country’s biggest banks were caught "robo-signing" approvals for mortgages, Bank of America and Wells Fargo are still fabricating documents to present in court in order to speed up foreclosures. That’s the conclusion reached by American Banker, the venerable daily news source for the financial services and banking community. It took us over a month to become aware of the article, but it's nonetheless very revealing of just how little has actually changed in Charlotte’s two mega-banks' mortgage practices.
The “robo-signing” banks that got into trouble last year were faulted for approving foreclosures without checking basic info, and creating phony documents to present to courts. A group of state attorneys general tried to cobble together a settlement with the banks, but those talks fell through. Now, says American Banker, some of the biggest mortgage servicers are still at it. As recently as August, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and other large U.S. banks were, in essence, backdating paperwork needed to support their cases for foreclosure. Banks were found to be signing over documents from lenders that don’t even exist anymore. Here’s a key excerpt from American Banker’s article:
According to a document submitted in a Florida court by Bank of America Corp., bank assistant vice president Sandra Juarez signed a mortgage assignment on July 29 of this year that purported to transfer ownership of a mortgage from New Century Mortgage Corp. to a trustee, Deutsche Bank. Two problems with that: New Century, a subprime lender, went bankrupt in 2007; and the Deutsche Bank trust that purported to hold the loan was created for a securitization completed in 2006 — about five years before Juarez signed it over to the trust. . . .
In another document, Wells Fargo assistant secretary Nancy D. Sorensen recently acted as a nominee of Fremont Investment and Loan, which went out of business in 2008. On Aug. 11 of this year, she assigned a mortgage from the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems registry on behalf of Fremont to a Deutsche Bank trust — for a bond issue that was completed in 2006.
A Wells Fargo spokesman claims the document is "a routine and fully authorized assignment of the [mortgage] note," but as American Banker points out, “most securitization agreements required the actual note, mortgage, and all intervening assignments to be transferred to a trust before the closing date, which the documents reviewed by American Banker show did not always happen.”
Conclusion, short version: If you think banks these days are being extra-sure they’re not doing anything unethical in their mortgage servicing business — or frankly, if you think they remotely give a damn about how their policies can effect ordinary Americans; or even if you think mortgage bankers are capable of taking responsibility for past sleazebag moves, or, like normal people, can at times feel something resembling shame, then you are more naïve than it’s probably safe to be in 2011.