Mortgage Fraud

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DO YOU NEED HELP TO AVOID FORECLOSURE?

If you would like to receive information on how you might avoid the foreclosure of your home, please e-mail me your name, address, and phone number. Someone from our office will be in touch right away to assist you. With Warm Regards, Kelly L. Hansen, HOMEOWNERS HELPING HOMEOWNERS, ctsmyhon@yahoo.com

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Big News re Servicing Fraud and Abuses by Wells Fargo and BofA et al

Just in from Congressman Cummings office...
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Jennifer Hoffman
April 24, 2014 (202) 226-5181
 
Cummings Requests Hearing on Mortgage Settlement
New Documents Show High Error Rates at Banks,
Foreclosure Review Terminated Before Full Harm Revealed
Washington, D.C. (Apr. 24, 2014)—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, sent a letter to Chairman Darrell Issa requesting a hearing to examine why federal regulators appear to have prematurely ended the Independent Foreclosure Review (IFR) and entered into a major settlement agreement with mortgage servicing companies in January 2013 just as the full extent of harm caused by abusive mortgage servicing practices was beginning to be revealed.
Cummings' request is based on new documents obtained by the Committee showing that independent consultants brought in to review servicer abuses had identified high error rates in some categories directly before the IFR was terminated and the final settlement was announced.
For example, Bank of America's independent consultant, Promontory Financial Group, LLC, found the bank had a 60% error rate in loan modification efforts; a 19% error rate in charging fees; and a 16% error rate in loans involving bankruptcy that were reviewed. Promontory found similar trends in PNC Bank's foreclosure activities, including "borrower financial injury" in 21% of cases reviewed.
The new documents also show that independent consultants had conducted significant preparatory work assembling files and creating systems to conduct more comprehensive reviews, but regulators suddenly halted these efforts in January 2013 despite projections that they would have been completed in months.
Promontory stated that "the peak of engagement was at the end of December 2012" and estimated that the projected time to complete its review of Bank of America was nine and a half months. Similarly, PNC Bank's independent consultant estimated that the review process could have been completed by June 2013.
"Now that we have obtained copies of these documents, they confirm that some mortgage servicing companies engaged in widespread and systemic foreclosure abuses, including charging improper and excessive fees, failing to process loan modifications in accordance with federal guidelines, and violating automatic stays after borrowers filed for bankruptcy," Cummings wrote. "It remains unclear why the regulators terminated the IFR prematurely, how regulators determined the compensation amounts servicers were required to pay under the settlement, and how regulators could claim that borrowers who were harmed by these servicers would benefit more from the settlement—including the settlement amounts paid for each error category—than by allowing the IFR to be completed."
In his letter, Cummings requested that the Committee hold a hearing with representatives from the Federal Reserve, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), mortgage servicing companies, and independent consultants to address three key questions:
• Why did the Federal Reserve and the OCC terminate the IFR prematurely before its objective had been achieved?
It is unclear why the regulators believed it was in the best interests of borrowers to end the IFR when high error rates were identified during preliminary reviews and consultants were poised to conduct more in-depth reviews to identify the full extent of harm.
• How did the regulators arrive at the compensation amounts in the settlement?
The settlement required banks to provide cash payments and other assistance to affected borrowers, but it is unclear what criteria were used to determine these settlement amounts, and whether these amounts were in any way related to the actual or estimated harm suffered by borrowers.
• How did the regulators determine that the amounts mortgage servicers would pay—and the amounts borrowers would receive—would be more favorable under the settlement than if the IFR had been completed?
It is unclear how regulators determined that the settlement amounts would provide a greater benefit to borrowers than if the IFR had continued until the independent consultants could report reliable data on servicer error rates.
Cummings also commended Issa for conducting the investigation in a responsible and bipartisan manner and for helping to obtain the documents cited in today's letter.
The full text of the letter is available here and copied below.
April 24, 2014
The Honorable Darrell E. Issa
Chairman
Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Mr. Chairman:
I am writing to request that the Committee hold a hearing on widespread foreclosure abuses and illegal activities engaged in by mortgage servicing companies. I request that the hearing also examine why the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) appear to have prematurely ended the Independent Foreclosure Review (IFR) and entered into a major settlement agreement with most of the servicers just as the full extent of their harm was beginning to be revealed.
I want to thank you for the bipartisan and responsible manner in which you and your staff have conducted this investigation. As you know, this issue has been a top priority for me over the past four years, and it affects more than 4 million borrowers who had homes in foreclosure in 2009 and 2010.
The Committee unanimously agreed on February 10, 2011, to include in our oversight plan a commitment to "examine the foreclosure crisis including wrongful foreclosures and other abuses by mortgage servicing companies."[1] In May 2013—after the Federal Reserve and the OCC entered into consent agreements with servicing companies—you and I sent bipartisan requests seeking documents about the settlement.[2] Our staffs then conducted in camera review of these documents, and on March 4, 2014, we sent bipartisan follow-up requests seeking copies of a narrow subset of documents relevant to our investigation.[3]
Now that we have obtained copies of these documents, they confirm that some mortgage servicing companies engaged in widespread and systemic foreclosure abuses, including charging improper and excessive fees, failing to process loan modifications in accordance with federal guidelines, and violating automatic stays after borrowers filed for bankruptcy. The documents show that several independent consultants that were brought in to review the activities of servicers had identified very high error rates in several categories of review directly before the settlement that terminated the IFR. In addition, the documents show that independent consultants had conducted significant preparatory work assembling files and creating systems to conduct more comprehensive reviews, but these efforts were halted suddenly in January 2013.
It remains unclear why the regulators terminated the IFR prematurely, how regulators determined the compensation amounts servicers were required to pay under the settlement, and how regulators could claim that borrowers who were harmed by these servicers would benefit more from the settlement—including the amounts paid for each error category—than by allowing the IFR to be completed.
High Error Rates Identified by Independent Consultants
The documents obtained by the Committee show that independent consultants hired by mortgage servicing companies began to identify high error rates in several error categories as they started to review the activities of the servicers directly before the IFR was terminated. It appears from the documents that some of these error rates were not yet included in reports when the IFR was suddenly halted.
In April 2011, the Federal Reserve, OCC, and the then-Office of Thrift Supervision issued consent agreements with 14 servicers regarding improper and abusive practices in residential mortgage loan servicing and foreclosure processing.[4] Two other servicers later entered into similar consent orders.[5] The consent orders required the servicers to engage independent consultants "to conduct an independent review of certain residential foreclosure actions regarding individual borrowers with respect to the Bank's mortgage servicing portfolio."[6]
The purpose of the IFR was to determine whether foreclosures were conducted "in accordance with applicable state and federal law," including "whether any errors, misrepresentations, or other deficiencies ... resulted in financial injury to the borrower or the mortgagee."[7] Under the IFR, independent consultants were supposed to review 100% of files with certain types of potential errors, and they were required to develop sampling methodologies to estimate the extent of errors in other categories. In addition, borrowers could request reviews of their foreclosures under a Request for Review process.[8]
As the IFR progressed, independent consultants began developing preliminary data on error rates for some categories of violations. For example, the Committee has now obtained documents from Promontory Financial Group, LLC, an independent consultant that was hired to review the foreclosure activities of Bank of America, PNC Bank, and Wells Fargo.
On May 3, 2013, Promontory submitted a document describing preliminary information on errors it had identified in Bank of America's "loan mitigation" efforts, including "modification adherence to HAMP or proprietary guidelines." Regarding the Loan Mitigation category, the independent consultant found:
Our preliminary error rate at closure of the review on a relatively low number of loans passed through senior review was 60%. This indicated systemic issues in the accuracy and timeliness of processing loan modifications that were not yet reflected in our IC Data Report.[9]
After examining improper fees charged by Bank of America, the independent consultant found:
At the time of closure of the review our analysis of potential paid harm based on initial File Review Lookback fee testing through senior review was 19%. This indicated systemic issues in the charging of fees that were not yet reflected in our IC Data Report.[10]
In a draft document entitled "File Review Lookback Preliminary Observations Update – Bankruptcy," the independent consultant wrote:
All 2,899 loans identified for Bankruptcy review have been subjected to initial testing. Senior review has been completed on approximately 57% of these loans and the preliminary exception rate of loans with potential financial harm is approximately 16% (465 of 2,899).[11]
Regarding these bankruptcy-related errors, the independent consultant also noted: "Our error rate as provided in the IC Data Report provided a reasonable estimation of the Bankruptcy errors as we were substantially complete with these files."[12]
The Committee also obtained documents from Promontory showing similar trends with respect to the foreclosure activities of PNC Bank. For example, in a document dated December 19, 2012, identified as a "Briefing before the Compliance Committee of the Board of PNC Bank, N.A.," the independent consultant issued an "Update on the Foreclosure Look-back Review and Complaints Solicitation Process." After reviewing a sample of 4,797 loans, the independent consultant found "borrower financial injury" in 21% of cases and "notable exception" errors in 24% of cases.[13] The independent consultant also stated:
[R]eview has identified seven void foreclosure sales as a result of servicer error, misrepresentation or deficiency in the foreclosure process: Bank did not provide appropriate notice to borrower prior to foreclosure sale, Complaint filed on incorrect facts (no due process) and lack of standing to bring foreclosure actions.[14]
Lack of Sufficient Data When IFR Terminated
Although the documents described above indicated high error rates in several categories of foreclosure activities, other documents obtained by the Committee show that when the Federal Reserve and OCC terminated the IFR and agreed to the settlement in January 2013, the independent consultants had just begun to finalize review procedures, assemble complete loan files, and produce detailed data on foreclosure abuses. With this complex and costly preparatory work completed, several independent consultants projected that they could finish their work in 2013, but the Federal Reserve and OCC ended the review in January 2013.
On January 7, 2013, the Federal Reserve and the OCC announced that they had reached an agreement with 10 of the 14 servicers subject to the 2011 consent orders.[15] Under this settlement, the servicers agreed to provide $8.5 billion in "cash payments and other assistance," including $3.3 billion in direct payments to borrowers who had homes in foreclosure in 2009 or 2010.[16] Three additional mortgage servicers later agreed to similar settlement terms, which increased the amount of cash payments and assistance to $9.3 billion and resulted in 13 amended consent orders being issued on February 28, 2013.[17]
Significantly, under the terms of this new agreement, "the participating servicers would cease the Independent Foreclosure Review, which involved case-by-case reviews."[18]
Documents obtained by the Committee show that, when the IFR was terminated and the Federal Reserve and OCC announced the settlement in January 2013, independent consultants were just completing the preparatory work necessary to conduct in-depth reviews of borrower files and were ready to proceed through the review process. For example, the independent consultant for Bank of America stated:
The peak of the engagement was at the end of December 2012. At this time we had 22 Promontory employees and 1,055 contracted Promontory Consultants working on the IFR.[19]
This independent consultant estimated that since it had put in place the required systems and hired and trained essential personnel, the "projected time to complete the review was approximately nine and a half months."[20]
The independent consultant also described the significant challenges it faced obtaining information from Bank of America in usable formats:
Due to the high volume of loans experiencing foreclosure difficulty, the information relating to a borrower's history with loan modification applications, bankruptcy filing status, service dates, etc., was often entered in as free-form text "notes" within the servicing system, and was not readily available for analytical manipulation at the time of population or segment identification.[21]
It noted further:
The diverse and complex nature of the Servicer's mortgage servicing and documentation systems and platforms, coupled with the number of rules we were required to create for testing and short timeframe, precluded the creation of a highly automated file management system. Therefore, the majority of relevant borrower and servicing information had to be manually extracted from the Servicer's various systems and platforms.[22]
The independent consultant made clear that its work was not complete at the time of the settlement:
Promontory envisioned a two-stage review, where "deep dives" to identify harm would follow the development of statistically robust, validated methods to identify borrowers with actual harm. These statistical methods were in the process of development using the results from the stage-one review (Promontory's initial work on the IFR lookback sample and our review of borrower outreach complaints) at the time that review process was terminated in early January 2013. No deep dives had been identified or conducted at the time the review was ended. …
Because our data were not complete at the time of the closure of the review, however, the ICDR [Independent Consultant Data Report] does not form a sound basis for inference concerning the frequency of errors in the population within the scope of the April 13, 2011, Consent Orders.[23]
The independent consultant described a similar situation with its review of the foreclosure activities of PNC Bank. It reported that "[a]s of December 7, 2012, Promontory's initial sample review was completed," but "[a]s a result of financial injury errors found in the initial sample, an expanded sample of loans was added to the review."[24]
The independent consultant estimated that only a few additional months would have been necessary to complete the review process, stating that it "projected the completion of the remaining expanded sample reviews by 6/30/13."[25]
Promontory also described similar challenges for its work examining the foreclosure activities of Wells Fargo:
Promontory encountered significant difficulty in obtaining complete files from Wells Fargo. These difficulties were most acute at the project's commencement, but difficulties continued for the duration of the project. In general, these difficulties occurred for two reasons. First, performing a comprehensive file review required many different documents. These documents were located on different systems, housed in different locations and originated from different business lines (included mortgages originated by entities acquired by Wells Fargo) and various third party vendors such as law firms. Second, specific document requirements evolved during the review period as the regulators finalized guidance on certain review methodologies and as Promontory developed greater familiarity with Wells Fargo's systems.[26]
PriceWaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC), which was hired as the independent consultant for Citibank N.A., GMAC Mortgage, SunTrust Mortgage, and U.S. Bank National Association, also noted the lack of complete loan files. PwC wrote:
Nearly as soon as the review began, PwC discovered that the files servicers had assembled were often incomplete or needed to be supplemented with additional information.[27]
This independent consultant also anticipated completing its work within one year, writing:
Just prior to the January 2013 settlements, PwC projected completing the engagements in 2013 or, in the case of GMAC and due to constraints related to its bankruptcy, in early 2014.[28]
Questions for Hearing
On January 7, 2013, Comptroller of the Currency Thomas J. Curry stated that "it has become clear that carrying the process through to its conclusion would divert money away from the impacted homeowners and also needlessly delay the dispensation of compensation to affected borrowers."[29] He also stated that the settlement "will get more money to more people more quickly, and it will speed recovery in the nation's housing markets."[30]
Regulators repeatedly argued that ending the IFR was "in the interest of providing the greatest benefit to borrowers potentially affected by the practices ... addressed in the 2011 Consent Order in a more timely manner than would have occurred under the Independent Foreclosure Review."[31]
In response to questioning by Senator Elizabeth Warren during a hearing on April 11, 2013, Richard Ashton, Deputy General Counsel of the Federal Reserve, testified that "the approach that was taken in the settlement agreement really is focused on trying to get cash to the borrowers as quickly as possible."[32]
The new documents obtained by the Committee raise three fundamental questions about these assertions that should be answered at a public hearing.
Why did the Federal Reserve and the OCC terminate the IFR prematurely before its objective had been achieved?
It is unclear why the regulators believed it was in the best interests of borrowers to end the IFR when high error rates were identified during preliminary reviews and more detailed reviews had been prepared to identify the full extent of harm. It is also unclear what caused regulators to conclude that even in instances in which the extensive preparatory work needed to enable independent consultants to conduct in-depth loan file reviews had been completed, the IFR should be terminated before those reviews were actually conducted or before reviews requested by borrowers had begun.
How did the regulators arrive at the compensation amounts in the settlement?
The amended consent orders executed on February 28, 2013, required servicers to make cash payments into a Qualified Settlement Fund, from which payments were provided to borrowers. For example, Bank of America was required to pay $1,127,453,261,[33] PNC Bank was required to pay $69,433,224,[34] JP Morgan Chase Bank N.A. was required to pay $753,250,131,[35] and Citibank, N.A. was required to pay $306,574,179.[36] It is unclear what criteria were used to determine these settlement amounts. It is also unclear whether these settlement amounts were in any way related to the actual or estimated harm suffered by borrowers.
How did the regulators determine that the amounts mortgage servicers would pay—and the amounts borrowers would receive—would be more favorable under the settlement than if the IFR had been completed?
When the IFR was terminated, at least some independent consultants had not reviewed enough loan files to determine reliable error rates. In some cases, however, preliminary data had identified double-digit error rates. Nonetheless, the Federal Reserve and the OCC argued that terminating the IFR would provide the "greatest benefit" to borrowers in a more timely manner than if the IFR had continued.
It is unclear how the Federal Reserve and the OCC made this determination. It is also unclear how the regulators determined that the settlement amounts for each mortgage servicing company—and the payments ultimately provided to individual borrowers from these settlement amounts—would provide a greater benefit to borrowers than if the IFR had continued until the independent consultants could report reliable data on servicer error rates. It is also unclear how regulators used these findings to assess whether terminating the IFR before the full extent of borrower harm was known was in the best interests of borrowers.
Conclusion
More than 4 million borrowers who had homes in foreclosure in 2009 and 2010 were directly affected by the actions of these mortgage servicing companies and the decisions of these regulators. For the reasons set forth above, I believe the Committee should convene a hearing to examine these critical issues with representatives from the Federal Reserve, the OCC, mortgage servicers, and independent consultants. Thank you for your consideration of this request.
Sincerely,
Elijah E. Cummings
Ranking Member

Insiders Tell All: Both the Stock Market and the SEC Are Rigged

By Pam Martens: April 14, 2014

President Obama Nominates Mary Jo White for Chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission
Since bestselling author Michael Lewis appeared on 60 Minutes on March 30 to promote his new book, “Flash Boys,” and explained how the U.S. stock market is rigged; and Brad Katsuyama, the head of IEX, an electronic trading platform who plays a central role in the Lewis book, did the same on CNBC a few days later, the debate has gone viral.
But Lewis and Katsuyama were not the first to blow the whistle on rigged U.S. stock markets. Sal Arnuk and Joseph Saluzzi, Wall Street insiders and co-founders of Themis Trading LLC literally wrote the book on “Broken Markets” in 2012 and have been exposing details of the rigging  on their blog ever since.
Wall Street Journal reporter, Scott Patterson, mapped out the exotic and corrupt order types permitted by the stock exchanges to fleece the little guy in his 2012 book, “Dark Pools,” which follows the trading career of Haim Bodek, who has set up his own web siteto blow the whistle on just how badly the stock market is rigged.
Following all the media hoopla, the FBI has recently announced that it has opened an investigation into the allegations. But under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, the FBI is not in charge of rigged stock exchanges — the Securities and Exchange Commission is. But according to insiders, the SEC has stood down in much the same fashion that it ignored warnings about Bernard Madoff from whistleblower Harry Markopolos for years. The explanation for the SEC’s inaction, many traders feel, is that the SEC itself is rigged against Main Street in favor of big Wall Street firms. That view has found support among the SEC’s own insiders.
Since 2006, four attorneys at the Securities and Exchange Commission have put their reputations and family interests on the line by blowing the whistle on corrupt cronyism that is now so ingrained at the Nation’s regulator of stock exchanges and securities markets that it’s become part of the SEC’s business model.
Last week, James Kidney, an SEC trial attorney who retired at the end of March, set off pandemonium inside the SEC by giving an interview with Bloomberg News and releasing the full text of his March 27 retirement speech in which he castigated the SEC’s upper management for policing “the broken windows on the street level” while ignoring the “penthouse floors.” Kidney said in his speech that “On the rare occasions when Enforcement does go to the penthouse, good manners are paramount. Tough enforcement – risky enforcement – is subject to extensive negotiation and weakening.”
News of the speech was quickly amplified by the New York Times and multiple business press outlets.
Kidney blamed the demoralization at the agency on its revolving door to Wall Street as the best and brightest “see no place to go in the agency and eventually decide they are just going to get their own ticket to a law firm or corporate job punched.” (Retirement Remarks of SEC Attorney, James Kidney (Full Text).)
Kidney’s interview with Bloomberg came one day after American Lawyer published excerpts from 2,000 pages of documents it had obtained from the SEC under a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, which showed that Kidney had pushed the SEC to investigate up the chain of command in the Goldman Sachs Abacus 2007-AC1 investment scam. Goldman Sachs knew that Abacus was designed to fail and allowed a hedge fund, John Paulson & Co., to bet against it while recommending it as a good investment to its own clients. The SEC only pursued a mid-level employee, Fabrice Tourre, while settling with Goldman Sachs for $550 million.
John Paulson was never charged officially by the government but he was named in the Securities and Exchange Commission’s outline of the crime. New York University, which has followed closely in the footsteps of the SEC’s brand of crony capitalism, allows Paulson to serve as a Trustee and has named the first floor lobby of Tisch Hall and the Stern School of Business auditorium in Paulson’s honor.
In the documents obtained by American Lawyer, Kidney is quoted as stating that “This was not a case where there was only one low-level vice president involved.”
At the end of last week, Kidney expanded further with NPR on the demoralization of public servants who are genuinely interested in doing an honest job, stating: “Washington has become — and I think everybody knows it — a bathtub full of cash. As long as you just go in the bathtub you’re going to come out with cash stuck on you – if you’re at least a certain, have certain jobs and have certain roles. And that’s why the revolving door is such a problem. It’s cultural, it’s the culture of Washington, it’s the culture of Wall Street and it hollows out the civil service…”
On June 28, 2006, Gary Aguirre, a former SEC attorney, testified before the U.S. Senate on the Judiciary. During his final days at the SEC, Aguirre had pushed to serve a subpoena on John Mack, the powerful former official of Morgan Stanley, to take testimony about his potential involvement in insider trading. Mack was protected; Aguirre was fired via a phone call while on vacation — just three days after contacting the Office of Special Counsel to discuss the filing of a complaint about the SEC’s protection of Mack.
Aguirre told the Senate hearing that the SEC had thrown a “roadblock” in his investigation because the suspected insider trader had “powerful political connections.” Aguirre returned on December 5, 2006 to testify further before the Senate Judiciary Committee, providing the following additional insights:
“My testimony today will focus on a favor. Senior SEC officials gave it. Morgan Stanley and its CEO, John Mack (Mack), accepted it.
“The favor had positive effects for some. It cleared the way for Mack’s return on June 30, 2005, as Morgan Stanley’s CEO. Without the favor, Mack would have faced the risk of an SEC lawsuit for insider trading over the next year…
“Few principles are more deeply engrained in Title 17 of the Code of Federal Regulations, which regulates the SEC’s operation, than the mandates obligating the SEC to handle all of its affairs, including the enforcement of the securities laws, with impartiality. No conduct would stray farther from those mandates than a double set of laws: one for the politically well connected and another for everyone else.”
Next in line was Darcy Flynn, also an attorney at the SEC. In 2011, Flynn told Congressional investigators and the SEC Inspector General that for at least 18 years, the SEC had been shredding documents and emails related to its investigations — documents that it was required under law to keep. Flynn explained to investigators that by purging these files, it impaired the SEC’s ability to see the connections between related frauds – a big benefit for the mega banks on Wall Street known for serial and elaborate frauds.
Up next was an anonymous whistleblower from inside the bowels of the SEC. On September 27, 2011, the SEC Inspector General released a heavily redacted report suggesting that SEC attorneys have come to understand that whistleblowing can be hazardous to their career so they now operate incognito.
The case involved an employee at the SEC who had sent an anonymous letter to the Inspector General, blowing the whistle on the SEC Director of Enforcement, Robert Khuzami, (now handsomely compensated as a partner at the law firm, Kirkland & Ellis). The anonymous whistleblower was complaining about Khuzami’s handling of charges that Citigroup executives had intentionally misled public investors about its exposure to subprime mortgages, understating the amount by $37 billion in the fall of 2007. According to the Inspector General’s report, the whistleblower alleged that:
 “…just before the staff’s recommendation was presented to the Commission, Enforcement Director Robert Khuzami had a ‘secret conversation’ with his ‘good friend’ and former colleague, a prominent defense counsel representing Citigroup, during which Khuzami agreed to drop the contested fraud charges against the second individual. The complaint further alleged that the Enforcement staff were ‘forced to drop the fraud charges that were part of the settlement with the other individual,’ and that both individuals were also represented by Khuzami’s friends and former colleagues, creating the appearance that Khuzami’s decision was ‘made as a special favor to them and perhaps to protect a Wall Street firm for political reasons.’
“The complaint also alleged that Khuzami’s decision had the effect of protecting Citigroup from private litigation, and that by not telling the staff about his secret conversation, Khuzami ‘directly violated recommendations by Inspector General Kotz in previous reports about how such special access and preferential treatment can cause serious appearance problems concerning fairness and integrity of decisions that are made by the Enforcement Division.’ ”
The Inspector General’s report effectively whitewashed the claims against Khuzami, throwing more demoralization at the veteran attorneys in the SEC.
Any hope that President Obama would demonstrate a breath of fresh air by making independent appointments to the SEC and in cleaning up Wall Street were dashed to shreds with the appointment of Mary Jo White as SEC Chair early last year. White has now spun through the revolving door four times in 36 years, always returning to her corporate law firm, Debevoise & Plimpton. Between herself and her husband, John W. White, of corporate law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP, they or their law firms have represented every major Wall Street mega bank. Under Federal law, the conflicts of the SEC Chair’s spouse become her own conflicts.
Adding further outrage to the situation, Mary Jo White quickly named her close associate at Debevoise & Plimpton, Andrew Ceresney, to be the Co-Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement – the unit that decides who gets prosecuted and who gets an unfettered license to steal.
Ceresney is now the sole Director of Enforcement as his co-director, George Canellos, has left to rejoin the (wait for it) big Wall Street law firm, Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy, as a partner and head of litigation.
Just one year prior to moving into the top cop slot at the SEC, Ceresney had pulled off a major coup for Wall Street firms JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Bank of America and Ally. Ceresney was directly employed as counsel to JPMorgan Chase, but he also played a key role in the negotiations between the U.S. Justice Department, 49 state attorneys general and an army of Federal regulators to settle charges of mortgage, foreclosure and servicing fraud – all melded into the National Mortgage Settlement – a deeply flawed deal for defrauded homeowners.
A nonpartisan Congressional watchdog has also weighed in on the abysmal personnel practices at the SEC. On July 18 of last year, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a stunning report on the declining morale among SEC employees. The report found that the SEC ranked 19 out of 22 similarly sized Federal agencies in overall satisfaction and commitment.
The GAO said its findings were consistent with the Partnership for Public Service’s analysis of the Office of Personnel Management’s 2012 Employee Viewpoint Survey. That analysis found that “SEC’s overall index score—which measures staff’s general satisfaction and commitment—declined from 73.1 in 2007 to 56 in 2012.”
The danger for the U.S. economy and our financial markets is that a system this tainted cannot stand – as we learned so well in 2008. It is inevitably destined to collapse under the weight of its own corruption.
The writings of economist Joseph Schumpeter explain creative destruction: failed systems and business models are meant to collapse in order to be replaced with more efficient, innovative ones. Studies indicate that impediments to the process of creative destruction have severe economic consequences.
The SEC is both an impediment to change on Wall Street and an impediment to regulatory reform. It is a dark pool of redactions and shredded documents; it has fired the truth-tellers and retained the timid; it is Wall Street’s top legal defense team in temporary quarters.

Be happy, healthy and prosperous, but most of all, be good. *~^o^~ cheer
Kelly L. Hansen
FRAUD CAN'T HIDE
Kelly L. Hansen, CCIP (12-14)
FRAUD CAN'T HIDE
33605 W. 88th Street
De Soto, KS 66018
913-529-9837 Phone
888-881-2349 Fax
SHOW YOUR AD HERE. ONLY $200 PER MONTH! E-MAIL KELLY L. HANSEN TO RESERVE YOUR SPOT: CTSMYON@YAHOO.COM. THANKS!