We told you about the stand taken in August by NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in refusing to sign off on Obama's 50-state immunity deal which would have forgiven rampant robosigning practices in exchange for pennies on the dollar towards homeowner relief.
Schneiderman was joined by six other state AGs, including California's Kamala Harris who began to subpoena the banks in an investigation, but just last week, Massachussetts AG Martha Coakley filed a lawsuit against the five big mortgage firms, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Ally Financial, Citi and Wells Fargo, seeking full damages and accountability.
Discovery in Coakley's suit may help explain why federal regulators haven't brought a single prosecution in the mortgage crisis, including the reluctance of the Obama Administration to use the Sarbanes-Oxley Act to prosecute CEOs who signed off on specious investment claims.
It was also major national news when NY District Court Judge Jed Rakoff recently refused to approve a "sweetheart" get-out-jail-free deal between Obama's SEC and Citigroup for alleged securities fraud.
These actions were hailed by the 99% as we saw some of the sweat, toil and sacrifice of the folks in the Occupy movement convert at last into courtroom action. Congress may be taking note.
Riding the wave of outrage against the Obama Administration "selling immunity" to the five big mortgage servicers, the number of Congressional co-sponsors for Ms. Baldwin's bill has almost doubled in two weeks from 27 to 48:
Banks "who engaged in fraudulent behavior should not be granted criminal or civil immunity for potential wrongdoing related to illegal mortgage and foreclosure practices...the Federal Government and State attorneys general should proceed with full investigations into claims of fraudulent behavior by the banks".
Aside from Tim Geithner and HUD Secretary Shaun Donovon, one notable apologist for the banks urging a quick immunity settlement has been Kathryn Wylde, who as Deputy Chair of the Board of the Federal Reserve Bank of NY is supposed to be fighting for the taxpayer. But Wylde maintains that in NY, "Wall Street is our Main Street" and we need to forgive and forget bank transgressions because they create sorely needed jobs in the finance sector.
Wylde describes the banks as victims, stuck with "liars loan" mortgages written by firms like Countrywide when there was little regulation. She says the banks who acquired these poisonous loans should be allowed to settle because they are operating under tougher conditions today, such as "upholding the law".
AGs like Schneiderman and Coakley and judges like Rakoff are starting to see it a different way - the victims to be made whole first are the little guys, the homeowner, the ripped off investor. These gigantic banks knew or should have known they were buying toxic, illegal paper - but there is no excuse for robosigning which has continued long after Countrywide folded, hence the urgency for the banks to buy immunity quick, before more people wake up.
With prosecution expected soon in California, Nevada is also rumored to be close to announcing prosecution so it is imperative Occupy supporters around the country chime in, sign the petition, call your member of Congress or drop a note of thanks to NY AG Eric Schneiderman.
Let your elected representative know if you feel the era of socializing losses, privatizing profit and buying immunity needs to come to an end.
The world is watching - not only Members of Congress sitting on the fence, but Wall Street firms, federal regulators at the SEC, DOJ, HUD and US Treasury, and also federal judges who may just be realizing that immunity settlements should include assertions of guilt or innocence and must consider the public interest.
The people are awake now.
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