At "Bankster of America," which until late last year was the nation's largest mortgage servicer, two employees testified that they had raised concerns about whether documents were being properly notarized, but managers essentially told them to shut up and proceed with their assigned work. One vice president testified that documents in her department were checked only for "formatting and spelling errors," not with regard to the underlying figures or facts in the case.
"Bank of America did not establish effective control over its foreclosure process," according to the report to be released today. And as foreclosure cases multiplied, BofA's management turned up the pressure on employees to move through this fraud-based activity faster.
At Wells Fargo, now the nation's largest mortgage servicer, bankster, and mortgage originator, employees told the inspector general's office that the company's management had assigned them bogus titles, including "vice president of loan documentation," even though they had absolutely no training in document review. Before becoming "vice president," one employee's previous job had been at a pizza restaurant. (This shows that criminal fraud has been committed by high-level bank officers. Such fraud enabled more than a million homes to essentially be stolen from their owners.)
Wells Fargo's management quashed an independent study by a manager responsible for overseeing the affidavit process. The study had started to show that the document department was critically understaffed. "The midlevel manager was then directed to stop the independent study and return to the practice of (fraudulently) signing affidavits without reading or verifying data," the report said.
And instead of remedying the problems, Wells Fargo's management shortened the review period to less than 48 hours instead of the normal five to seven days, the employees said, thereby making it impossible for employees to properly evaluate loan applications.
The banks have argued that despite "document errors," foreclosures were justified because borrowers had fallen behind on their payments. But the report, which focused on foreclosures from 2008 to 2010 of federally backed loans serviced by five major banks, suggests that all of these banks criminally violated state laws governing the foreclosure process.
At the center of the foreclosure controversy, regulators accused the banks of so-called robo-signing, in which employees churned out thousands of documents used to seize homes . . without reviewing those documents for accuracy.
A team leader in Ally Financial's foreclosure department admitted signing up to 10,000 affidavits a month without reviewing them for accuracy, according to the report. The team leader also testified that he had routinely signed documents used in foreclosure proceedings with "no knowledge of the facts, and without reviewing the supporting documents."
At JPMorgan Chase, operations supervisors "routinely signed foreclosure documents, including affidavits, certifying that they had personal knowledge of the facts when they did not," according to the review.
As at Wells Fargo, employees at JPMorgan Chase took on titles like "vice president of Chase Home" even though "the titles were given by Chase for the sole purpose of allowing individuals to sign documents, and came with no other duties or authority." Once again, this constitutes criminal fraud.
In one review of 36 foreclosures at JPMorgan Chase, the bank was able to find documents explaining what the borrowers purportedly owed, in only four cases. And in three of those four cases, the underlying documents proved incorrect! A representative at JPMorgan Chase declined to comment.
Vice presidents at Citigroup told the inspector general that some employees had "regularly" signed foreclosure documents without reviewing them for accuracy. While the foreclosure procedures were improved in 2010, the bank continued to employ outside law firms to file foreclosure documents that were plagued by errors, the report concluded.
Some employees signed stacks of documents a day without reviewing them. Unlike the other major servicers, Citi never halted foreclosure sales. In 2010, Citi told regulators that it had found its internal procedures to be sound, which was of course a lie. (Lying to regulators about such things is a crime.)
In a statement, Citi said it was "making every effort to ensure that no foreclosure goes forward based on an inaccurate or defective affidavit." Another lie.
The five bankster banks that recently got off so easy with their sweet $25 billion settlement -- Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and Ally -- engaged "in a pattern of unfair and deceptive practices," the complaint says, but refrains from any use of words like "criminal" or "fraud."
Could it be that the banksters in a sense already own the U.S. Department of Justice? After all, what else can you call a $25 billion fine, in punishment for a $100+ billion theft, except "sweet"?