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Bank of America has been able to reduce a multi-billion dollar mortgage fraud penalty

Discussion in 'BBS Hangout: Debate & Discussion' started by RocketsLegend, Jun 3, 2016.

  1. RocketsLegend

    RocketsLegend Member

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    http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/b...-its-justice-dept.-settlement/article/2592705

    Bank of America has been able to reduce a multi-billion dollar mortgage fraud penalty imposed by the Justice Department by giving millions of dollars to liberal groups approved by the Obama administration.

    The bank has wiped about $194 million off its record $16.6 billion 2014 mortgage settlement by donating to nonprofits and legal groups. Thanks to little-known provisions in the settlement, the bank only had to make $84 million in donations to do that.

    The bank wasn't exploiting any loophole. It's a key part of the deal the Justice Department offered to get it to settle in the first place. For every dollar the bank has given the nonprofits — none of which were victims of fraud themselves — it has claimed at least two dollars off the settlement. The deal ensured the Obama administration that a certain part of the settlement funds would go to friendly liberal groups, bypassing the normal congressional appropriations.

    Among the groups receiving the money were Hispanic civil rights group the National Council of La Raza ($1.5 million), the National Urban League ($1.1 million) and the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America ($750,000)

    Republicans have sharply criticized that part of the settlement as well as near-identical language in multi-billion settlements with Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, arguing that the administration has created a "slush fund" for liberal groups. The settlement skirts federal law, which says that any revenue obtained by the government must go to the Treasury and cannot be redirected to third parties. The deals circumvented that by requiring the banks to make "voluntary" donations before they officially entered into the settlement.

    "This is nothing short of a shakedown and another example of how the Obama administration is rigging the system to benefit their political allies. Instead of directing settlements directly to victims or returning the money to the U.S. Treasury, President Obama set up a slush fund for community organizers and other liberal activists. This is outrageous," said Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wis., chairman of the Financial Services Committee's Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee.

    A Justice Department spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

    Bank of America and the Justice Department reached the record settlement in 2014 to address violations stemming from the 2008 financial crisis. Most of the violations involved Countrywide and Merrill Lynch, which Bank of America bought, with the government's encouragement, during the crisis. That meant taking on both entities' assets and liabilities.
     
  2. RocketsLegend

    RocketsLegend Member

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    The settlement has been a good deal for Bank of America, which is obligated to donate only $100 million to the nonprofit groups: $20 million to housing groups, $30 million to legal aid groups and $50 million to public or private community development funds.

    There is no limit on the amount the bank can give, however, and the double credit it gets toward the settlement gives it a strong incentive to keep on donating. It got a second bonus for all consumer relief "offered or completed by Aug. 31, 2015."

    "The monitor found that the bank had cleared the hurdle for the extra credit of 115 percent for every dollar donated," said Thomas Mulligan, spokesman for Green. That ultimately netted the bank another $26 million off the settlement.

    The bank already has exceeded the minimum for legal aid groups by more than $4 million and for community development groups by about $3 million. "At its current pace, Bank of America appears likely to fulfill its consumer-relief obligations well ahead of the August 2018 deadline," Green noted.

    Direct consumer relief, on the other hand, such as forgiving delinquent loans, earns the banks at best only $1 of credit for each dollar it spends.


    In a statement to the Washington Examiner, Bank of America spokesman Rick Simon said the bank had paid out $4.4 billion in consumer relief overall.

    "These activities have benefited thousands of mortgage customers through principal forgiveness and lending to lower-income borrowers, as well as communities and nonprofit organizations," Simon said.
     
  3. Amiga

    Amiga 80s
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    Well done Obama for a record settlement and holding BoA accountable.

    Not surprising that community assistance groups helping the poor, vulnerable, and preyed are liberal lending. Hallelujah for such groups.
     
  4. ApolloRLB

    ApolloRLB Member

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    If there is no personal liability (jail time, etc.) at the executive level, it is not a real deterrent.
     

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