Banks behaving badly

Banks behaving badly February 29, 2012

Cora Currier: “Banks Colluding with Insurers to Rip Off Homeowners, Lawsuit Alleges

A federal judge in Miami on Tuesday opened the door to a class action against Wells Fargo. More than 20,000 Florida homeowners can now sue Wells Fargo and an insurance company, QBE, for allegedly overcharging for insurance. More than $50 million in insurance premiums are at issue, according to American Banker.

The suit itself, filed last year, is sealed, but the judge, Robert Scola, laid out the allegations against Wells Fargo. The judge didn’t rule on the case but allowed it to go forward as a class action. In his decision, the judge cited the plaintiffs’ claims that Wells Fargo and QBE “colluded in a scheme to artificially inflate the premiums charged to homeowners.”

The judge also said Wells Fargo has actually threatened to retaliate against homeowners who join the suit.

Gretchen Morgenson: “Audit Finds Broad Irregularities in Foreclosures

Commissioned by Phil Ting, the San Francisco assessor-recorder, the report examined files of properties subject to foreclosure sales in the county from January 2009 to November 2011. About 84 percent of the files contained what appear to be clear violations of law, it said, and fully two-thirds had at least four violations or irregularities.

Simon Johnson: “Too Big to Jail

Among the fundamental principles of any functioning justice system is the following: Don’t lie to a judge or falsify documents submitted to a court, or you will go to jail. Breaking an oath to tell the truth is perjury, and lying in official documents is both perjury and fraud. These are serious criminal offenses, but apparently not if you are at the heart of America’s financial system. On the contrary, key individuals there appear to be well compensated for their crimes.

Aarti Shahani: “With Banks as Landlords, Some Tenants Neglected

Across the country, big banks and other large investors are buying up tens of thousands of foreclosed rental properties. They’re not always model landlords, according to tenants and regulators. Some banks are failing to follow local and state housing codes, leaving tenants to live in squalor — without even a number to call in the most dire situations.

Jonathan Weil: “New Citigroup Looks Too Much Like the Old One

Citigroup agreed to pay $158.3 million to settle a civil complaint by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan, accusing the company and its CitiMortgage home-loan unit of defrauding the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. By itself, that wouldn’t be big news. The payment is small for a company with $1.9 trillion of assets. And the government has accused Citigroup of fraud many times before.

What makes this case different — and so galling — is that some of the alleged misconduct was ongoing as recently as last year, well after the company’s 2008 taxpayer bailouts.

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