Democratic Lawmakers Seek Information Regarding Independent Foreclosure Review Settlements

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On January 31, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Representative Elijah Cummings (D-MD), House Oversight Committee Ranking Member, sent a letter to the Federal Reserve Board and the OCC seeking documents and information regarding the regulators’ decision to enter into settlements with certain mortgage servicers subject to consent orders issued in April 2011 to (i) resolve allegations that the firms engaged in improper mortgage servicing and foreclosure practices and (ii) end the Independent Foreclosure Review process established by the prior consent orders. The lawmakers are seeking (i) all documents regarding the performance of the independent consultants engaged by the servicers to conduct the foreclosure reviews, (ii) all documents created by the servicers or the consultants to update the regulators on the status of the foreclosure review process, (iii) all documents compiled by the regulators indicating the total amount of settlement funds paid to each consultant, (iv) the number of borrowers who requested review, by gender, race, zip code, and property value, (v) the total number of reviews initiated by each contractor, and (vi) the average time each contractor required to complete a review of a borrower’s file.

On the same day, House Financial Services Committee Ranking Member Maxine Waters (D-CA) sent a separate letter requesting that the regulators ensure the final agreements entered in lieu of the foreclosure reviews include certain specific provisions, including (i) reordering of the matrix categories, (ii) requirements that principal reduction be provided as a form of indirect relief, and (iii) appointment of an independent monitor. Representative Waters also seeks information about payments to the consultants and how the regulators decided on the $8.5 billion settlement amount. Finally, a recent report noted that Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) initiated her own inquiry into the settlements and payments to the consultants. According to the report, the letter may be used to support a request that the regulators claw back some of the payments made to the consultants.