Shalia M. Sakona

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Huge Settlements Between S&P, Government

2015 is leaving Standard and Poor’s (S&P) quite a bit poorer. Yesterday, the major credit rating agency agreed to pay $1.375 billion to resolve lawsuits brought against it by the U.S. Department of Justice and attorney generals from 19 states and the District of Columbia regarding S&P’s pre-crisis ratings of mortgage-backed securitizations (MBS) and collateralized … Continue Reading

Freddie Mac’s Index Shows Housing Market Improvement

According to Freddie Mac, things are looking up for the South Florida housing market. The August Multi-Indicator Market Index (MIMI) ratings, released last Friday, awarded the Miami Metro Area a score of 69.2. While Miami is still 11 points shy of an “in range” score, this latest score is 11.43% higher than last August’s score, … Continue Reading

Big Banks Argue that Shorter Limitations Period Should Apply to MBS Claims

Recently, the defendants in FDIC as Receiver for Colonial Bank v. Chase Mortgage Finance Group, et al (Civ No. 1:12-cv-06166) filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings, asking the court to dismiss as time-barred the securities violations alleged against them by the FDIC.  In light of the Supreme Court’s holding in CTS Corp. v. … Continue Reading

Massachusetts Sues Fannie and Freddie for Blocking Home Buybacks

Earlier this month, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley initiated an action against Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Finance Agency for allegedly illegally impeding non-profit foreclosure buyback programs. These buyback programs purchase properties in foreclosure and then resell the properties to the prior owners at an affordable price, helping low-income residents keep their homes. … Continue Reading

Can Fannie and Freddie Cope Under Pressure?

Last week, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) put Freddie and Fannie to the test, and the results were grim. Dodd-Frank mandated “stress tests,” designed to evaluate a financial institution’s ability to withstand an economic downturn, revealed that in a severe recession Fannie and Freddie could require bailouts of as much as $190 billion, a … Continue Reading

Judge Denied Bank of America’s Motion to Dismiss $850M Mortgage Fraud Case

Last week, Magistrate Judge David S. Cayer of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina denied Bank of America’s motion to dismiss the Security and Exchange Commission’s claims against it in SEC v. Bank of America Corporation, et al. The SEC’s complaint is founded upon allegations that “[t]he Bank of America  … Continue Reading

Wells Fargo Employee Admits Role in $40.8 Million Straw Buyer Scheme

Last Friday, a former Wells Fargo branch manager, sales manager and loan officer, Robert Serao, pled guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The charge stems from Serao’s involvement in a $40.8 million mortgage fraud scheme during his time at Wells Fargo. Allegedly working in concert with at least nine others, Serao used “straw buyers” … Continue Reading

Wells Fargo Gives Subprime Borrowers Another Chance

Wells Fargo has announced that it plans to begin originating FHA-backed loans for borrowers with credit scores as low as 600. This new cut-off is 40 points below Wells Fargo’s current floor, and 20 points below what has traditionally been considered to constitute a “subprime” borrower. After the collapse of the housing market, faced with … Continue Reading

Dodd Frank Act: The Arrival of the ‘Ability to Repay’ Lending Restrictions

The days of exotic mortgage programs like “no doc” and balloon loans may be over. Earlier this month, the long awaited (and by many lenders and experts, dreaded), lending restrictions codified in the Dodd Frank Act finally went into effect. The rules, promulgated by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), attempt to constrain lenders’ abilities to … Continue Reading

FHA Announces Plans to Lower Mortgage Insurance Policy Caps

Last Friday, the Federal Housing Administration announced that it will reduce the maximum threshold for the high-price mortgages it is willing to insure. This change was called for by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, but was delayed several times in response to continuing economic turmoil. Currently, in the highest cost areas, the … Continue Reading

Proposed Legislation Would Curb JP Morgan’s Potential Multi-Billion Dollar Tax Windfall

Late last month, we commented on JP Morgan Chase’s $5.1 billion settlement with the Fair Housing Financing Agency (FHFA), as conservator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The Wall Street Journal has since reported that JP Morgan will be able to deduct that entire amount on its 2013 tax returns, allowing the company to reap … Continue Reading
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