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Foreclosure Settlement Filed; But Banks’ Crimes Go Largely Ignored

In the weeks after the mortgage settlement was announced by the Federal Government, I waited under baited breath to the see it in its entirety.

Almost every week I read a different report stating the documents to finalize the settlement were about to be filed in court.

And as each reported deadline came and went, I grew more and more skeptical.

Would the banks manage to sneak some last minute releases in? Would the lofty figures promised to beleaguered borrowers be diminished?

The good news, now that documents have been completed and released to the public, is that the answer to both questions is a sound no.

The banks are not getting any get-out-of-jail-free cards, claims against MERS and the securitization process are still very much on the table.

On the other hand, did I learn anything new about the massive frauds perpetrated by the banks? Not really.

There are pages listing what the government has now labeled as “Unfair, Deceptive, and Unlawful Loan Practices”.

The settlement does say that the banks violated federal laws, that they wrongfully denied modification applications, and overcharged for ‘forced place insurance, among other misdeeds.

It even finally acknowledges that the banks engaged in robosigning.

But these are things that my clients and I have long known.

If you’ve read the Wall Street Journal, or the New York Times, or any thorough news story on the housing crisis, there’s little in the mortgage settlement’s pages that will surprise you.

And that’s thoroughly disappointing. What the government has presented to the public is a complete white-washing of the robosigining and “fraudclosure” scandal. It acknowledges that the banks committed certain indiscretions yes, but I couldn’t find one concrete example, not one thorough examination of how it occurred.

Not that I didn’t expect it.

There are hundreds and hundreds of pages documenting how the many types of relief that banks will now offer will be credited towards their penalties.

There is far far less about the crimes that led to these penalties in the first place. There is no admissions from the banks. They committed forgery, perjury, impersonation, tax evasion, and plain old garden variety fraud.

Yet I was lucky if I found those WORDS in the settlement documents, and there certainly were no examples of how they perpetrated these crimes.

Hoping to get an “I’m sorry” from the banks for illegally taking your home? You won’t find it anywhere in the mortgage settlement.

There is plenty of thorough description of the relief some homeowners will be eligible for, and yes, some homeowners will no longer be underwater thanks to this settlement.

And that’s a very good thing.

But for those who choose to believe that the mortgage settlement is just another bailout, that it’s rewarding homeowners that didn’t pay their mortgages and just wanted a handout, there isn’t much in these pages that will changes their minds.

So ultimately the banks, at least for now, have managed to evade the role of villain. They’ll pay some fines, write a few checks and promise to be good.

But the vast majority of frauds they’ve committed against the American homeowner have still yet to see the light of day.

Tags: bank, banking, consumer fraud, crimes, economics, federal government, filing, finance, financial economics, financial institutions, foreclosure, foreclosure settlement, foreclosures, insurance, MERS, mortgage, mortgage settlement, mortgages, securitization, settlement, vast, veils

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