Assignee Liability in the Secondary Mortgage Market

“Rather, the ASF’s concern is the ad hoc body of federal and state law that currently subjects innocent secondary market assignees to liability.”

Interesting point:

Shifting the burden for predatory practices from cheated subprime borrowers to passive investors and other subprime borrowers simply shifts the burden of predatory practices among innocent parties

Irony!

The primary market actors directly responsible for harmful predatory practices already are subject to extensive, if sometimes ineffective, government regulation.
Position Paper
of the
American Securitization Forum
June 2007
snip…………………………………………
It is important to remember that, although the holder-in-due-course doctrine constitutes an important protection for innocent assignees, it does not afford an absolute protection to all assignees. In order to benefit from holder-in-due-course status, an assignee must take the loan in good faith and cannot have actual or implied knowledge of a variety of loan defects, including that the loan was originated through fraudulent means. Courts will also deny holder-in-due-course status to an assignee that has such a close connection with the originator that the originator effectively is an agent of the assignee35 or where knowledge of the originator’s wrongdoing can be imputed to the assignee on some other basis, such as joint-venture or aiding-and-abetting theories.36 In addition, assignees that engage in wrongful conduct themselves in connection with mortgage loans are subject to potentially serious liability under a variety of federal and state legislation.37

The ASF does not contest the scope of liability under these laws for secondary market assignees that are culpable. Rather, the ASF’s concern is the ad hoc body of federal and state law that currently subjects innocent secondary market assignees to liability. This body of law lacks coherence and is often internally inconsistent, in part because the perception that assignees must be held responsible for the sins of loan originators becomes more politically salient during periods of turmoil in the housing market. At such times, there is a tendency for lawmakers to turn to the secondary market as the deep pockets available to compensate for the failure of regulatory authorities to effectively oversee and punish those loan originators that engage in illegal conduct.

THE REAL EMPLOYERS OF THE SIGNERS OF MORTGAGE ASSIGNMENTS TO TRUSTS: BY Lynn E. Szymoniak, Esq.

THE REAL EMPLOYERS OF THE SIGNERS OF

MORTGAGE ASSIGNMENTS TO TRUSTS

BY Lynn E. Szymoniak, Esq., Editor, Fraud Digest (szymoniak@mac.com),

April 15, 2010

On May 11, 2010, Judge Arthur J. Schack, Supreme Court, Kings County, New York, entered an order denying a foreclosure action with prejudice. The case involved a mortgage-backed securitized trust, SG Mortgage Securities Asset Backed Certificates, Series 2006-FRE2. U.S. Bank, N.A. served as Trustee for the SG Trust. See U.S. Bank, N.A. v. Emmanuel, 2010 NY Slip Op 50819 (u), Supreme Court, Kings County, decided May 11, 2010. In this case, as in hundreds of thousands of other cases involving securitized trusts, the trust inexplicably did not produce mortgage assignments from the original lender to the depositor to the securities company to the trust.

This particular residential mortgage-backed securities trust in the Emmanuel case had a cut-off date of July 1, 2006. The entities involved in the creation and early agreements of this trust included Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., as servicer, U.S. Bank, N.A. as trustee, Bear Stearns Financial Products as the “swap provider” and SG Mortgage Securities, LLC. The Class A Certificates in the trust were given a rating of “AAA” by Dominion Bond Rating Services on July 13, 2006.

The designation “FRE” in the title of this particular trust indicates that the loans in the trust were made by Fremont Investment & Loan, a bank and subprime lender and subsidiary of Fremont General Corporation. The “SG” in the title of the trust indicates that the loans were “securitized” by Signature Securities Group Corporation, or an affiliate.

Fremont, a California-based corporation, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on June 19, 2008, but continued in business as a debtor-in-possession. On March 31, 2008, Fremont General sold its mortgage servicing rights to Carrington Capital Management, a hedge fund focused on the subprime residential mortgage securities market. Carrington Capital operated Carrington Mortgage Services, a company that had already acquired the mortgage servicing business of New Century after that large sub-prime lender also filed for bankruptcy. Carrington Mortgage Services provides services a portfolio of nearly 90,000 loans with an outstanding principal balance of over $16 billion. Nearly 63% of the portfolio is comprised of adjustable rate mortgages. Mortgage servicing companies charge  substantially higher fees for servicing adjustable rate mortgages than fixed-rate mortgages. Those fees, often considered the most lucrative part of the subprime mortgage business, are paid by the securitized trusts that bought the loans from the original lenders (Fremont & New Century), after the loans had been combined into trusts by securities companies, like Financial Assets Securities Corporation, SG and Carrington Capital.

Carrington Capital in Greenwich, Connecticut, is headed by Bruce Rose, who left Salomon Brothers in 2003 to start Carrington. At Carrington, Rose packaged $23 billion in subprime mortgages. Many of those securities included loans originated by now-bankrupt New Century Financial. Carrington forged unique contracts that let it direct any foreclosure and liquidations of the underlying loans. Foreclosure management is also a very lucrative part of the subprime mortgage business. As with servicing adjustable rate mortgages, the fees for the foreclosure management are paid ultimately by the trust. There is little or no oversight of the fees charged for the foreclosure actions. The vast majority of foreclosure cases are uncontested, but the foreclosure management firms may nevertheless charge the trust several thousand dollars for each foreclosure of a property in the trust.

The securities companies and their affiliates also benefit from the bankruptcies of the original lenders. On May 12, 2010, Signature Group Holdings LLP, (“SG”) announced that it had been chosen to revive fallen subprime mortgage lender Freemont General, once the fifth-largest U.S. subprime mortgage lender. A decision to approve Signature’s reorganization plan for Fremont was made through a bench ruling issued by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Santa Ana, CA. The bid for Fremont lasted nearly two years, with several firms competing for the acquisition.

The purchase became much more lucrative for prospective purchasers in late March, 2010, when Fremont General announced that it would settle more than $89 million in tax obligations to the Internal Revenue Service without actually paying a majority of the back taxes. The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California, Santa Ana Division, approved a motion that allowed Fremont General to claim a net operating loss deduction for 2004 that is attributable for its 2006 tax obligations, according to a regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

In addition, Fremont General will deduct additional 2004 taxes, because of a temporary extension to the period when companies can claim the credit. The extension from two years to five went into effect when President Obama signed the Worker, Homeownership, and Business Assistance Act of 2009. While approved by the bankruptcy court judge, the agreement must also meet the approval of the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation, but according to the SEC filing, both Fremont General and the IRS anticipate that it will be approved. In all, Fremont’s nearly $89.4 million tax assessment was reduced to about $2.8 million, including interest. In addition, as a result of the IRS agreement, a California Franchise Tax Board tax claim of $13.3 million was reduced to $550,000.

Another development that made the purchase especially favorable for SG was the announcement on May 10, 2010, that Federal Insurance Co. has agreed to pay Fremont General Corp. the full $10 million loss limits of an errors and omissions policy to cover subprime lending claims, dropping an 18-month battle over whether the claims were outside the scope of its bankers professional liability policies.

All of these favorable developments are part of a long history of success for Craig Noell, the head of Signature Group Holdings, the winning bidder for Fremont. Previously, as a member of the distressed investing area at Goldman Sachs, Noell founded and ran Goldman Sachs Specialty Lending, investing Goldman’s proprietary capital in “special situations opportunities.”

Bruce Rose’s Carrington Mortgage Services and Craig Noell’s Signature Group Holdings are part of the story of the attempted foreclosure on Arianna Emmanuel in Brooklyn, New York. U.S. Bank, N.A., as Trustee for SG Mortgage Securities Asset-Backed Certificates, Series 2006 FRE-2 attempted to foreclose on Arianna Emmanuel. The original mortgage had been made by Fremont Investment & Loan (the beneficiary of the $100 milion tax break and the $10 million insurance payout discussed above).

To successfully foreclose, the Trustee needed to produce proof that the Trust had acquired the loan from Fremont. At this point, the document custodian for the trust needed only to produce the mortgage assignment. The securities company that made the SG Trust, the mortgage servicing company that serviced the trust and U.S. Bank as Trustee had all made frequent sworn statements to the SEC and shareholders that these documents were safely stored in a fire-proof  vault.

Despite these frequent representations to the SEC, the assignment relied upon by U.S. Bank, the trustee, was one executed by Elpiniki Bechakas as assistant secretary and vice president of MERS, as nominee for Freemont. In foreclosure cases all over the U.S., assignments signed by Elpiniki Bechakas are never questioned. But on May 11, 2010, the judge examining the mortgage assignment was the Honorable Arthur J. Schack in Brooklyn, New York.

Bechakas signed as an officer of MERS, as nominee for Fremont, representing that the property had been acquired by the SG Trust in June, 2009. None of this was true. Judge Schack determined sua sponte that Bechakas was an associate in the law offices of Steven J. Baum, the firm representing the trustee and trust in the foreclosure. Judge Schack recognized that the Baum firm was thus working for both the GRANTOR and GRANTEE. Judge Schack wrote, “The Court is concerned that the concurrent representation by Steven J. Baum, P.C. of both assignor MERS, as nominee for FREMONT, and assignee plaintiff U.S. BANK is a conflict of interest, in violation of 22 NYCRR § 1200.0 (Rules of Professional Conduct, effective April 1, 2009) Rule 1.7, “Conflict of Interest: Current Clients.”

Judge Schack focused squarely on an issue that pro se homeowner litigants and foreclosure defense lawyers often attempt to raise – the authority of the individuals signing mortgage assignments that are used by trusts to foreclose. In tens of thousands of cases, law firm employees sign as MERS officers, without disclosing to the Court or to homeowners that they are actually employed by the law firm, not MERS, and that the firm is being paid and working on behalf of the Trust/Grantee while the firm employee is signing on behalf of the original lender/Grantor.

Did the SG Trust acquire the Emmanuel loan in 2006, the closing date of the trust, or in 2009, the date chosen by Belchakas and her employers? There are tremendous tax advantages being claimed by banks and mortgage companies based on their portfolio of nonperforming loans. There are also millions of dollars in insurance payouts being made ultimately because of non-performing loans. There are substantial fees being charged by mortgage servicing companies and mortgage default management companies – being paid by trusts and assessed on homeowners in default. The question of the date of the transfer is much more than an academic exercise.

As important as the question of WHEN, there is also the question of WHAT – what exactly did the trust acquire? What is the reason for the millions of assignments to trusts that flooded recorders’ offices nationwide starting in 2007 that were prepared by law firm employees like Bechakas or by employees of mortgage default companies or document preparation companies specializing is providing “replacement” mortgage documents. Why, in judicial foreclosure states, are there thousands of Complaints for Foreclosure filed with the allegations: “We Own the Note; we had the note; we lost the note.” Why do bankruptcy courts repeatedly see these same three allegations in Motions For Relief of Stay filed by securitized trusts attempting to foreclose? If the assignments and notes are missing, has the trust acquired anything (other than investors’ money, tax advantages and insurance payouts)? In many cases, the mortgage servicing company does eventually acquire the property – often by purchasing the property after foreclosure for ten dollars and selling it to the trust that had claimed ownership from the start.

Where are the missing mortgage assignments?

Was There a Plan to Blow Up the Economy? The Subprime Conspiracy: COUNTERPUNCH

May 3, 2010

Was There a Plan to Blow Up the Economy?

The Subprime Conspiracy

By MIKE WHITNEY

Many people now believe that the financial crisis was not an accident. They think that the Bush administration and the Fed knew what Wall Street was up to and provided their support. This isn’t as far fetched as it sounds. As we will show, it’s clear that Bush, Greenspan and many other high-ranking officials understood the problem with subprime mortgages and knew that a huge asset bubble was emerging that threatened the economy. But while the housing bubble was more than just an innocent mistake, it doesn’t rise to the level of “conspiracy” which Webster defines as  “a secret agreement between two or more people to perform an unlawful act.”  It’s actually worse than that, because bubblemaking is the dominant policy, and it’s used to overcome structural problems in capitalism itself, mainly stagnation.

The whole idea of a conspiracy diverts attention from what really happened. It conjures up a comical vision of  top-hat business tycoons gathered in a smoke-filled room stealthily mapping out the country’s future. It ignores the fact, that the main stakeholders don’t need to convene a meeting to know what they want. They already know what they want; they want a process that helps them to maintain profitability even while the “real” economy remains stuck in the mud.  Historian Robert Brenner has written extensively on this topic and dispels the mistaken view that the economy is “fundamentally strong”. (in the words of former Treasury secretary Henry Paulson)  Here’s Brenner :

“The current crisis is more serious than the worst previous recession of the postwar period, between 1979 and 1982, and could conceivably come to rival the Great Depression, though there is no way of really knowing. Economic forecasters have underestimated how bad it is because they have over-estimated the strength of the real economy and failed to take into account the extent of its dependence upon a buildup of debt that relied on asset price bubbles.

“In the U.S., during the recent business cycle of the years 2001-2007, GDP growth was by far the slowest of the postwar epoch. There was no increase in private sector employment. The increase in plants and equipment was about a third of the previous, a postwar low. Real wages were basically flat. There was no increase in median family income for the first time since World War II. Economic growth was driven entirely by personal consumption and residential investment, made possible by easy credit and rising house prices. Economic performance was weak, even despite the enormous stimulus from the housing bubble and the Bush administration’s huge federal deficits. Housing by itself accounted for almost one-third of the growth of GDP and close to half of the increase in employment in the years 2001-2005. It was, therefore, to be expected that when the housing bubble burst, consumption and residential investment would fall, and the economy would plunge. ” (“Overproduction not Financial Collapse is the Heart of the Crisis”, Robert P. Brenner speaks with Jeong Seong-jin, Asia Pacific Journal)

What Brenner describes is an economy \that–despite unfunded tax cuts, massive military spending and gigantic asset bubbles–can barely produce positive growth.  The pervasive lethargy of mature capitalist economies poses huge challenges for industry bosses who are judged solely on their ability to boost quarterly profits. Goldman’s Lloyd Blankfein and JPM’s Jamie Dimon could care less about economic theory, what they’re interested in is making money; how to deploy their capital in a way that maximizes return on investment. “Profits”, that’s it.  And that’s much more difficult in a world that’s beset by overcapacity and flagging demand.  The world doesn’t need more widgets or widget-makers. The only way to ensure profitability is to invent an alternate system altogether, a new universe of financial exotica (CDOs, MBSs, CDSs) that operates independent of the sluggish real economy. Financialization provides that opportunity. It allows the main players to pump-up the leverage, minimize capital-outlay, inflate asset prices, and skim off record profits even while the real  economy endures severe stagnation.

Financialization provides a  path to wealth creation, which is why the sector’s portion of total corporate profits is now nearly 40 per cent. It’s a way to bypass the pervasive inertia of the production-oriented economy. The Fed’s role in this new paradigm is to create a hospitable environment (low interest rates) for bubble-making so the upward transfer of wealth can continue without interruption. Bubblemaking is policy.

As we’ve pointed out in earlier articles, scores of people knew what was going on during the subprime fiasco. But it’s worth a quick review, because Robert Rubin, Alan Greenspan, Timothy Geithner, and others have been defending themselves saying, “Who could have known?”.

The FBI knew (“In September 2004, the FBI began publicly warning that there was an “epidemic” of mortgage fraud, and it predicted that it would produce an economic crisis, if it were not dealt with.”) The FDIC knew. ( In testimony before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, FDIC chairman Sheila Bair confirmed that she not only warned the Fed of what was going on in 2001, but cited particular regulations (HOEPA) under which the Fed could stop the “unfair, abusive and deceptive practices” by the banks.) Also Fitch ratings knew, and even Alan Greenspan’s good friend and former Fed governor Ed Gramlich knew. (Gramlich personally warned Greenspan of the surge in predatory lending that was apparent as early as 2000. Here’s a bit of what Gramlich said in the Wall Street Journal:

“I would have liked the Fed to be a leader” in cracking down on predatory lending, Mr. Gramlich, now a scholar at the Urban Institute, said in an interview this past week. Knowing it would be controversial with Mr. Greenspan, whose deregulatory philosophy is well known, Mr. Gramlich broached it to him personally rather than take it to the full board. “He was opposed to it, so I didn’t really pursue it,” says Mr. Gramlich. (Wall Street Journal)

So, Greenspan knew, too. And, according to Elizabeth MacDonald  in an article titled “Housing Red flags Ignored”:

“One of the nation’s biggest mortgage industry players repeatedly warned the Federal Reserve, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and other bank regulators during the housing bubble that the U.S. faced an imminent housing crash….But bank regulators not only ignored the group’s warnings, top Fed officials also went on the airwaves to say the economy was “building on a sturdy foundation” and a housing crash was “unlikely.”

So, the Mortgage Insurance Companies of America [MICA] also knew. And, here’s a clip from the Washington Post by former New York governor Eliot Spitzer who accused Bush of being a ‘partner in crime’ in the subprime fiasco. Spitzer says that the OCC launched “an unprecedented assault on state legislatures, as well as on state attorneys general just to make sure the looting would continue without interruption. Here’s an except from Spitzer’s article:

“In 2003, during the height of the predatory lending crisis….the OCC promulgated new rules that prevented states from enforcing any of their own consumer protection laws against national banks. The federal government’s actions were so egregious and so unprecedented that all 50 state attorneys general, and all 50 state banking superintendents, actively fought the new rules. (Washington Post)

So, the Fed knew, the Treasury knew, the FBI knew, the OCC knew, the FDIC knew, Bush knew, the Mortgage Insurance Companies of America knew, Fitch ratings knew, all the states Attorneys General knew, and thousands, of traders, lenders, ratings agency executives, bankers, hedge fund managers, private equity bosses, regulators knew. Everyone knew, except the unlucky people who were victimized in the biggest looting operation of all time.

Once again, looking for conspiracy, just diverts attention from the nature of the crime itself. Here’s a statement from former regulator and white collar criminologist William K. Black which helps to clarify the point:

“Fraudulent lenders produce exceptional short-term ‘profits’ through a four-part strategy: extreme growth (Ponzi), lending to uncreditworthy borrowers, extreme leverage, and minimal loss reserves. These exceptional ‘profits’ defeat regulatory restrictions and turn private market discipline perverse. The profits also allow the CEO to convert firm assets for personal benefit through seemingly normal compensation mechanisms. The short-term profits cause stock options to appreciate. Fraudulent CEOs following this strategy are guaranteed extraordinary income while minimizing risks of detection and prosecution.” (William K. Black,“Epidemics of’Control Fraud’ Lead to Recurrent, Intensifying Bubbles andCrises”, University of Missouri at Kansas City – School of Law)

Black’s definition of “control fraud” comes very close to describing what really took place during the subprime mortgage frenzy. The investment banks and other financial institutions bulked up on garbage loans and complex securities backed by dodgy mortgages so they could increase leverage and rake off large bonuses for themselves. Clearly, they knew the underlying collateral was junk, just as they knew that eventually the market would crash and millions of people would suffer.

But, while it’s true that Greenspan and Wall Street knew how the bubble-game was played; they had no intention of blowing up the whole system. They simply wanted to inflate the bubble, make their profits, and get out before the inevitable crash.  But, then something went wrong. When Lehman collapsed, the entire financial system suffered a major heart attack. All of the so-called “experts” models turned out to be wrong.

Here’s what happened: Before to the meltdown, the depository “regulated” banks got their funding through the repo market by exchanging collateral (mainly mortgage-backed securities) for short-term loans with the so-called “shadow banks” (investment banks, hedge funds, insurers) But after Lehman defaulted, the funding stream was severely impaired because the prices on mortgage-backed securities kept falling. When the bank-funding system went on the fritz,  stocks went into a nosedive sending panicky investors fleeing for the exits. As unbelievable as it sounds, no one saw this coming.

The reason that no one anticipated a run on the shadow banking system is because the basic architecture of the financial markets has changed dramatically in the last decade due to deregulation. The fundamental structure is different and the traditional stopgaps have been removed. That’s why no one knew what to do during the panic. The general assumption was that there would be a one-to-one relationship between defaulting subprime mortgages and defaulting mortgage-backed securities (MBS). That turned out to be a grave miscalculation. The subprimes were only failing at roughly 8 percent rate when the whole secondary market collapsed. Former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill explained it best using a clever analogy. He said, “It’s like you have 8 bottles of water and just one of them has arsenic in it. It becomes impossible to sell any of the other bottles because no one knows which one contains the poison.”

And that’s exactly what happened. The market for structured debt crashed, stocks began to plummet, and the Fed had to step in to save the system. Unfortunately, that same deeply-flawed system is being rebuilt brick by brick without any substantive changes.. The Fed and Treasury support this effort, because–as agents of the banks–they are willing to sacrifice their own credibility to defend the primary profit-generating instruments of the industry leaders. (Goldman, JPM, etc) That means that Bernanke and Geithner will go to the mat to oppose any additional regulation on derivatives, securitization and off-balance sheet operations, the same lethal devices that triggered the financial crisis.

So, there was no conspiracy to blow up the financial system, but there is an implicit understanding that the Fed will serve the interests of Wall Street by facilitating asset bubbles through “accommodative” monetary policy and by opposing regulation. It’s just “business as usual”, but it’s far more damaging than any conspiracy, because it ensures that the economy will continue to stagnate, that inequality will continue to grow, and that the gigantic upward transfer of wealth will continue without pause.

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He can be reached atfergiewhitney@msn.com

Small Foreclosure Firm’s Big Bucks: Back Office Grossed $260M in 2009: ABAJOURNAL

Posted Apr 20, 2010 11:59 AM CDT
By Martha Neil

The Law Offices of David J. Stern has only about 15 attorneys, according to legal directories.

However, it’s the biggest filer of mortgage foreclosure suits in Florida, reports the Tampa Tribune. Aided by a back office that dwarfs the law firm, with a staff of nearly 1,000, the Miami area firm files some 5,800 foreclosure actions monthly.

The back-office operation, DJSP Enterprises, is publicly traded and hence must file financial reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission. It netted almost $45 million in 2009 on a little over $260 million in gross revenue that year. The mortgage meltdown of recent years apparently has been good to the company: In 2006, it earned a profit of $8.6 million on $40.4 million in revenue.

Stern, who is the company’s chairman and chief executive officer, could not be reached for comment, the newspaper says.

His law firm has been in the news lately, after one Florida judge dismissed a foreclosure case due to what he described as a “fraudulently backdated” mortgage document, and another said, in a hearing earlier this month concerning another of the Stern firm’s foreclosure cases, “I don’t have any confidence that any of the documents the court’s receiving on these mass foreclosures are valid.”

Earlier coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Judge Dismisses Mortgage Foreclosure Over ‘Fraudulently Backdated’ Doc”

Close watch on the US…UK regulator begins Goldman Sachs probe

I think it is donzo for GS. They might try to get away with it here but UK…is another story. There is no White House.

Source: Associated Press

People enter Goldman Sachs headquarters, Monday, April 19, 2010, in New York. Stocks are falling on concerns about the fallout over Goldman Sachs being charged with civil fraud tied to its dealings in bonds backed by sub-prime mortgages. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
Jane Wardell, AP Business Writer, On Tuesday April 20, 2010, 6:40 am EDT

LONDON (AP) — Britain’s financial regulator launched a full-blown investigation into Goldman Sachs International on Tuesday after U.S. authorities filed civil fraud charges against its parent bank.

The announcement from the Financial Services Authority follows pressure for the probe from Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who expressed shock over the weekend at Goldman’s “moral bankruptcy.”

The British regulator said it would liaise closely with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which alleges that the bank sold risky mortgage-based investments without telling buyers that the securities were crafted in part by a billionaire hedge fund manager who was betting on them to fail.

The London-headquartered Goldman Sachs International, a principal subsidiary of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., said that “the SEC’s charges are completely unfounded in law and fact.” It said it looks “forward to cooperating with the FSA.”

British interest in the case is likely to focus on the Royal Bank of Scotland, which paid $841 million to Goldman Sachs in 2007 to unwind its position in a fund acquired in the takeover of Dutch Bank ABN Amro, according to the complaint filed in the United States.

The possibility that RBS might be able to recoup some money from Goldman Sachs helped boost the government-controlled bank’s shares, which were up 2.8 percent at midday.

The government holds an 84 percent stake in the bank, which nearly collapsed in large part because of its leadership of the consortium which took over the Dutch bank.

Fabrice Tourre, the Goldman Sachs executive named in the SEC lawsuit filed on Friday was moved to the bank’s London office at the end of 2008.

Analysts warn that damage from the case could hit other big banks as well, as the Goldman lawsuit puts the spotlight on the sector’s activities in the wake of the financial crisis.

Brown’s anger was fueled by reports over the weekend that Goldman Sachs still intended to pay out 3.5 billion pounds ($5.4 billion) in bonuses.

The British leader, who is facing a tough general election on May 6, said that the activities of banks “are still an issue.”

“They are a risk to the economy,” he said. “We have got to make sure they behave in a proper way.”

The opposition Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties, meanwhile, called on Brown to suspend Goldman from government work until the investigations are completed.

AP reporter Robert Barr in London contributed to this statement.

WTF!!! DJSP Enterprises, Inc. Announces Agreement to Acquire Timios, Inc., Expand Presence Into 38 States

DJSP Enterprises, Inc. Announces Agreement to Acquire Timios, Inc., Expand Presence Into 38 States

Adds Established National Title Insurance Agency with Multiple Locations Across the US for Expansion of Cyclical Products and Services to the Real Estate and Mortgage Industries

By DJSP Enterprises, Inc.

PLANTATION, Fla., April 19 — /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — DJSP Enterprises, Inc. (Nasdaq: DJSP, DJSPW, DJSPU), one of the largest providers of processing services for the mortgage and real estate industries in the United States, today announced it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Timios, Inc., a national title insurance and settlement services company. Timios is a licensed title insurance and escrow agent operating in 38 States. Headquartered in Westlake Village, CA, with additional offices in Houston and Plano, Texas, Timios will provide DJSP Enterprises the capability to provide its customers a balanced portfolio of services including new loan origination, refinance and national REO closing and title.  Additionally, Timios handles national loss mitigation services and pre-foreclosure title products from its multiple locations strategically placed for time-zone sensitive fulfillment.

Management expects that Timios, which uses advanced technology to produce a paperless environment, will aid DJSP Enterprises in its commitment to provide its customers with enhanced customer service in all lines of its business as it expands nationally. Timios presently services purchase money, refinance, reverse mortgage, REO and Deed-In-Lieu transactions for some of the largest lenders and servicers nationwide.  Last year, Timios closed in excess of $500 million in residential real estate mortgage transactions, and as forecasted, is expected to more than double the volume in 2010.  In addition, Timios has the capability to complete title searches for DJSP Enterprises’ growing REO liquidation business and loss mitigation business outside of Florida.

DJSP Enterprises will maintain Timios’ three offices while consolidating operations and back-office functions to streamline and reduce expenses.

David J. Stern, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of DJSP Enterprises commented, “This acquisition significantly expands our capacity to effectively handle national services for our current client base.  In addition it will support our cyclical expansion into other lines of the mortgage services business. In particular, our capacity to process national REO closings, refinance transactions, short-sale transactions, Deed in Lieu transactions, property reports, resale transactions, and multiple valuation products will be meaningfully expanded. Timios provides licenses for full settlement services in 38 states and we expect to obtain licenses in at least two additional states before the end of this year.

This acquisition further demonstrates our commitment to becoming the leading cyclical provider of products and services to the real estate and mortgage industries.”

“This transaction represents a great marriage of strengths and assets,” said Trevor Stoffer, president and CEO of Timios, Inc. “Our management teams could not ignore the obvious benefits to both organizations. DJSP Enterprises’ growth in the foreclosure space and our best in class technology and servicing of originations will create a very balanced portfolio. In addition, the financial support from DJSP Enterprises will allow Timios to grow from a boutique services company to a major player in settlement services with a complete offering for lenders.”

DJSP Enterprises will acquire Timios for $1.5 million in cash, 200,000 ordinary shares of DJSP Enterprises, and up to 100,000 ordinary shares of DJSP Enterprises to be earned upon achievement of defined performance metrics. Timios had revenue of $5.05 million for the last 12 months and DJSP Enterprises expects this acquisition to be accretive to earnings by the 3rd Quarter 2010.

The closing of the acquisition is subject to customary due diligence, closing conditions and regulatory approvals.

About DJSP Enterprises, Inc.

DJSP Enterprises is the largest provider of processing services for the mortgage and real estate industries in Florida and one of the largest in the United States. The Company provides a wide range of processing services in connection with mortgages, mortgage defaults, title searches and abstracts, REO (bank-owned) properties, loan modifications, title insurance, loss mitigation, bankruptcy, related litigation and other services. The Company’s principal customer is the Law Offices of David J. Stern, P.A. whose clients include all of the top 10 and 17 of the top 20 mortgage servicers in the United States, many of which have been customers for more than 10 years. The Company has approximately 1,000 employees and contractors and is headquartered in Plantation, Florida, with additional operations in Louisville, Kentucky and San Juan, Puerto Rico. The Company’s U.S. operations are supported by a scalable, low-cost back office operation in Manila, the Philippines that provides data entry and document preparation support for the U.S. operation.

Forward Looking Statements

This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, about DJSP Enterprises, Inc. and Timios, Inc. Forward looking statements are statements that are not historical facts. Such forward-looking statements, based upon the current beliefs and expectations of the Company’s management, are subject to risks and uncertainties, which could cause actual results to differ from the forward looking statements. The following factors, among others, could cause actual results to differ from those set forth in the forward-looking statements: business conditions; changing interpretations of generally accepted accounting principles; outcomes of government or other regulatory reviews, particularly those relating to the regulation of the practice of law; the impact of inquiries, investigations, litigation or other legal proceedings involving the Company or its affiliates, which, because of the nature of the Company’s business, have happened in the past to the Company and the Law Offices of David J. Stern, P.A.; the impact and cost of continued compliance with government or state bar regulations or requirements; legislation or other changes in the regulatory environment, particularly those impacting the mortgage default industry; unexpected changes adversely affecting the businesses in which the Company is engaged; fluctuations in customer demand; the Company’s ability to manage rapid growth; intensity of competition from other providers in the industry; general economic conditions, including improvements in the economic environment that slows or reverses the growth in the number of mortgage defaults, particularly in the State of Florida; the ability to efficiently expand its operations to other states or to provide services not currently provided by the Company; the impact and cost of complying with applicable SEC rules and regulation, many of which the Company will have to comply with for the first time after the closing of the business combination; geopolitical events and changes, as well as other relevant risks detailed in the Company’s filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, (the “SEC”), including its report on Form 20-F for the period ended December 31, 2009, in particular, those listed under “Item 3. Key Information – Risk Factors.” The information set forth herein should be read in light of such risks. The Company does not assume any obligation to update the information contained in this press release.

   
Company Contact:  
David J. Stern  
Chairman and CEO  
DJSP Enterprises, Inc.  
Phone: 954-233-8000, ext. 1113  
Email: dstern@dstern.com  
   
or  
   
Kumar Gursahaney  
Executive Vice President and CFO  
DJSP Enterprises, Inc.  
Phone: 954-233-8000, ext. 2024  
Email: kgursahaney@dstern.com  
   
Investor Contact:  
Hayden IR  
Cameron Donahue  
Phone: 651-653-1854  
Email: cameron@haydenir.com  
   
 

SOURCE DJSP Enterprises, Inc.

Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/04/19/v-fullstory/1586456/djsp-enterprises-inc-announces.html#ixzz0lbZw1okr

Goldman Sachs taps ex-W.H. counsel: SCAM THICKENS!

By EAMON JAVERS & MIKE ALLEN | 4/19/10 8:14 PM EDT
Updated: 4/19/10 10:03 PM by POLITICO

Goldman Sachs is launching an aggressive response to its political and legal challenges with an unlikely ally at its side — President Barack Obama’s former White House counsel, Gregory Craig.

The beleaguered Wall Street bank hired Craig — now in private practice at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom — in recent weeks to help in navigate the halls of power in Washington, a source familiar with the firm told POLITICO.

“He is clearly an attorney of eminence and has a deep understanding of the legal process and the world of Washington,” the source said. “And those are important worlds for everybody in finance right now.”

They’re particularly important for Goldman.

On Friday, the SEC charged the firm with securities fraud in a convoluted subprime mortgage deal that took place before the collapse of the housing market. Next week, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein will face questions from the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which is looking into the causes of the housing meltdown, the source said.

In Craig, Goldman Sachs will have help from a lawyer with deep connections in Democratic circles.

Craig served as White House counsel during the first year of Obama’s presidency, but is seen as having been pushed out for his role in advocating a strict timeline for the closing of the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. His departure frustrated many liberal Obama supporters who saw Craig as a strong advocate for undoing some of what they saw as the worst excesses of the Bush era.

But the source familiar with Goldman’s operations said Craig wasn’t hired just because he’s well-connected.

“It’s about advice and process,” the source said. “People will always leap to the conclusion that it’s about somebody’s Rolodex.”

Skadden declined to comment on Craig’s role with Goldman.

“A former White House employee cannot appear before any unit of the Executive Office of the President on behalf of any client for 2 years—one year under federal law and another year under the pledge pursuant to the January 2009 ethics E0,” said a White House official.

The official also said that the White House had no contact with the SEC on the Goldman Sachs case. “The SEC by law is an independent agency that does not coordinate with the White House any part of their enforcement actions.”

Whatever the reason for his hiring, Craig will presumably be a key player in the intricate counterattack Goldman Sachs officials in Washington and Manhattan improvised during the weekend — a plan that took clearer shape Monday as Britain and Germany announced that they might conduct their own investigations of the firm.

For three weeks, Goldman had planned to hold a conference call Tuesday to unveil its first-quarter earnings for shareholders. Shifting into campaign mode after the SEC’s surprise fraud filing, Goldman has moved the call up from 11 a.m. to 8 a.m. to try to get ahead of the day’s buzz. In an unusual addition, the firm’s chief counsel will be on the line to answer questions about the case, and Goldman is inviting policymakers and clients to listen to the earnings call themselves rather than rely on news reports.

Industry officials said the conference call — which will include, as originally planned, Chief Financial Officer David Viniar — will amount to a public unveiling of Goldman’s crisis strategy.

But the linchpin of that plan is already clear: An attempt to discredit the Securities and Exchange Commission by painting the case as tainted by politics because it was announced just as President Barack Obama was ramping up his push for financial regulatory reform, including a planned trip to New York on Thursday.

“The charges were brought in a manner calculated to achieve maximum impact at point of penetration,” a Goldman executive said.

Among the points Greg Palm, co-general counsel, plans to emphasize on the call is “how out of the ordinary the process was with the SEC,” the executive said. The SEC usually gives firms a chance to settle such charges before they are made public. Goldman executives say they had no such chance,and learned about the filing while watching CNBC.

With a monstrous problem and mammoth resources, the iconic firm is paying for advice from a huge array of outside consultants, including such top Washington advisers as Ken Duberstein and Jack Martin, founder of Public Strategies.

The basic plan: Make a tough, factual case without coming off as arrogant or combative and without souring the firm’s image even further.

Partly because of the firm’s belief that it has become an easy target, no Goldman officials have appeared on television since the SEC announced its case.

The firm thinks it can be more effective if others make its case. On CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Monday, Andrew Ross Sorkin of The New York Times, who gets special attention from Goldman spinners, raised questions about the substance of the SEC’s case. Shortly thereafter, Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, the top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, said he is “a little interested in the timing” of the case.

Reflecting a high-stakes balance for the unpopular investment bank, Goldman plans to stop short of a frontal attack. Instead, it is raising questions and feeding ammunition to allies.

“We don’t want to come across as being arrogant and above it all,” said a Goldman executive who insisted on anonymity. “The SEC is the major regulator of several of our businesses. Being at war with them is not the goal.”

Therefore, an official said, a key Goldman message in the days ahead will be, “We’re not against regulation. We’re for regulation. We partner with regulators.”

Goldman said its most important audience is its client base, from CEOs all over the world to pension-fund managers to entrepreneurs who use the firm’s private wealth-management services. The firm sent its staff two pages of talking points giving basic facts — and the official line — about the SEC case: “Goldman Sachs Lost Money on the Transaction … Objective Disclosure Was Provided.”

The less official message, according to one executive: “Don’t believe everything you read in the complaint. Don’t believe everything you read in the press.”

The official said clients have been sympathetic.

Other audiences include the news media and governments around the world, with Goldman reaching out Tuesday to politicians in Europe, Japan, the U.S. and everywhere in between.

Goldman pays extraordinary attention to its alumni network because so many of its former officials are in visible, powerful positions. An official said the firm tries “to empower them with information,” so that when they’re put on the spot about the Goldman case, they can say, “I’m not there, but let me tell you a few things I’ve been told.”