Oh my, what do we have here?
Life Insurance Companies v Country Wide, Mozillo, Bank of America, et al
That would be a nasty little lawsuit (well, maybe not so little) against Countrywide (and its successor, Bank of America) in which it is alleged that Countrywide sold a lot of bogus paper to pretty much every large insurance company in the world.
In point, here’s the salient section:
1. This action concerns a massive fraud perpetrated by Defendant Countrywide Financial and certain of its officers and affiliates against the Plaintiffs, which are investors in mortgage-backed securities (“MBS”) issued by Countrywide’s subsidiaries. The Plaintiffs are institutional investors that wanted conservative, low-risk investments and thus bought Countrywide MBS (the “Certificates”) that were represented to be backed by mortgages issued pursuant to specific underwriting guidelines and rated investment-grade (primarily AAA). In purchasing the Certificates, the Plaintiffs and their investment managers relied on term sheets, prospectuses and other materials prepared by and provided to them by the Defendants, which made representations about the Countrywide Defendants’ purportedly conservative mortgage underwriting standards, the appraisals of the mortgaged properties, the mortgages’ loan-to-value (“LTV”) ratios, and other facts that were material to Plaintiffs’ investment decisions. Plaintiffs and their investment managers also relied on Defendants’ public statements concerning the Countrywide Defendants’ adherence to prudent underwriting guidelines and careful credit analysis. These representations by Defendants were recklessly or knowingly false when made. In reality, Countrywide was an enterprise driven by only one purpose – to originate and securitize as many mortgage loans as possible into MBS to generate profits for the Countrywide Defendants, without regard to the investors that relied on the critical, false information provided to them with respect to the related Certificates.
If you want it distilled down into one sentence, it’s this: You told us you were selling us good paper, and in fact you were knowingly selling us a box of dogcrap.
We’ve seen a couple of these before. But this one adds a new twist, and leads me to run up the
Read starting at page 62. Oh I’ll do it for you…
H. Countrywide Failed To Ensure That Title To The Underlying Loans Was Effectively Transferred
147. The rules for these transfers are governed by the law of the state where the property is located, by the terms of the pooling and servicing agreement (“PSA”) for each securitization, and by the law governing the issuing trust (with respect to matters of trust law). Generally, state laws and the PSAs require the promissory note and security instrument to be transferred by indorsement, in the same way that a check can be transferred by indorsement, or by sale. In addition, state laws generally require that the trustee have physical possession of the original, manually signed note in order for the loan to be enforceable by the trustee against the borrower in case of default.
148. In order to preserve the bankruptcy-remote status of the issuing trusts in RMBS transactions, the notes and security instruments are generally not transferred directly from the mortgage loan originator to the trust. Rather, the notes and security instruments are generally initially transferred from the originator (e.g., Countrywide Home) to the depositor (e.g., CWALT), either directly or via one or more special-purpose entities established by Countrywide Financial. After this initial transfer to the depositor, the depositor transfers the notes and security interests to the issuing trust for the particular securitization. Each of these transfers must be valid under applicable state law in order for the trust to have good title to the mortgage loans.
149. In addition, the PSA generally requires the transfers of the mortgage loans to the trust to be completed within a strict time limit after formation of the trust in order to ensure that the trust qualifies as a tax-free real estate mortgage investment conduit (“REMIC”).
150. The applicable state trust law generally requires strict compliance with the trust documents, including the PSA, so that failure to comply strictly with the timeliness, indorsement, physical delivery, and other requirements of the PSA with respect to the transfers of the notes and security instruments means that the transfers would be void and the trust would not havegood title to the mortgage loans.
151. The Offering Documents for each offering of the Certificates represented in substance that the issuing trust for that offering had obtained good title to the mortgage loans comprising the pool for the offering. In reality, however, Countrywide routinely failed to comply with the requirements of applicable state laws and the PSAs for valid transfers of the notes and security instruments to the issuing trusts. In Kemp .v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., Bkrtcy. No. 08-18700 (D.N.J.), Countrywide sought to prove that the Bank of New York, as trustee for an RMBS issuing trust that purportedly held Mr. Kemp’s mortgage, was entitled to enforce the mortgage. Countrywide presented testimony by Linda DeMartini, who had been employed by Countrywide Servicing for almost ten years as of August 2009 and was then a supervisor and operational team leader for the Litigation Management Department of Countrywide Servicing. Ms. DeMartini testified that, in her extensive career in the mortgage loan servicing business of Countrywide, “I had to know about everything . . . .” She testified that Countrywide Home originated Kemp’s loan in 2006 and transferred it to the Bank of New York as trustee for the issuing trust, but that Countrywide Servicing retained the original note in its own possession and never delivered it to the Bank of New York because Countrywide Servicing was the servicer for the loan.
What have I been prattling on for over a year about? This exact point.
How many people have said this didn’t matter and wouldn’t be a problem? Remember all the apologists for the banksters that said this wouldn’t lead to liability, it didn’t represent a void transfer, and that all this would be swept under the rug and be ok?
Care to rethink that position…. just a wee bit?
Looks to me like as the Statute of Limitations approaches and the firms in question that have gotten screwed have faced the choice of “shut up or sue” they’ve decided that the correct response is “Ok, I’ll sue.”
I doubt they’ll be interested in settling for a tiny amount of money either, given the default and economic harm numbers put forward in the complaint.
Nor do I think this will be a singular complaint – drop in your name and play “template” with this one folks.