Friday, November 04, 2011

Yves Smith: Bank CEOs Lying When They Say They’ve Stopped Robosigning

Bank CEOs Lying When They Say They’ve Stopped Robosigning
by Yves Smith
Naked Capitalism

Readers may recall that we posted on the credibility-straining claim by the former GMAC’s, now Ally’s CEO, that his bank was no longer engaging in robosigning.

Now in fairness, we might have a little clever use of terminology at work. Robosigning narrowly speaking, refers to the use of low paid staffers to execute documents used in court filings by the hundreds per day. This created a huge scandal when it broke because it was a flagrant violation of court procedures. Affidavits, for instance, are used in place of testimony and are required to be based on personal knowledge. A $12 an hour functionary churning out signatures clearly has not even read the paperwork, much the less has any knowledge of the various foreclosures he is pushing through the pipeline.

Ally and other major servicers now piously claim that these systematic abuses of legal procedures that date back to the 1677 Statute of Frauds were mere “sloppiness” or “paperwork errors” and they’ve cleaned up their act. Should we believe them?

While services like #5 Ally may well have dispensed with factory-style signing procedures. there is evidence on the ground that says that the banks have not made meaningful changes. But there is even evidence that robosigning is still taking place, AFTER the banks were supposedly investigated by 11 Federal regulators (we’ve repeatedly expressed our skepticism about that efforts, and our doubts were confirmed by the GAO) and after the servicers entered into consent decrees which made this sort of thing impermissible.

In July, two separate investigations, one by Reuters, one by the Associated Press, found that past robosigners were still cranking out signatures. Reuters identified six robosigners at five different servicers. As we wrote:

So…the banks have perjured themselves, made commitment to regulators that they are brazenly violating. The Reuters investigation determined that at least 5 of the 14 servicers that signed consent decrees in April are not complying with their requirements: OneWest, Bank of America, HSBC, Bank USA, Wells Fargo and GMAC Mortgage. Note that three of them (Bank of America, Wells, and GMAC, now Ally) are among the five biggest servicers, so the impact is greater than the number of derelicts suggests. And one is the annoyingly pious Wells, which keeps maintaining, contrary to all evidence, that it is better than the other servicers. In addition, another six servicers that did not sign the consent orders were also found by the Reuters exam to have engaged in abusive practices.

To Read the Rest of the Report

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