Friday, February 10, 2012

Q&A at the Mortgage Fraud Settlement Negotiations

"Pray tell us: what must we do,
That the Feds and the states will not sue?"
"In dollar terms: 25,200,000,202."

The Obama administration and 49 US state attorneys general have announced a $25 billion settlement of mortgage foreclosure fraud charges with the five biggest mortgage loan origination banks. The five firms - Ally Financial Inc./GMAC Mortgage, Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc., J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Wells Fargo & Co. - will underwrite benefits to certain mortgage borrowers that are modest in their individual impact but may provide a marginal impetus to the housing and mortgage markets. The benefits include principal reduction for those at imminent risk of default; refinancing eligibility for some "underwater" borrowers; and $2,000 cash payments to some whose homes were foreclosed during the last three years. However, the largest impact of the settlement is not on homeowners but on the banks, from which a significant legal risk has been removed. Banks are not completely out of the woods yet, though; bondholders can still sue to have the mortgage originators buy their bad loans back.

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