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AG Mills Announces latest settlement in ?Robo Signing? scandal
December 19, 2013
(AUGUSTA) Ocwen Financial Corporation of Atlanta, Georgia, and its subsidiary, Ocwen Loan Servicing, have agreed to a $2.1 billion dollar joint state-federal settlement with Attorney General Janet Mills, 48 additional states and the District of Columbia, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
According to a complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the misconduct resulted in premature and unauthorized foreclosures, violations of homeowners? rights and protections, and the use of false and deceptive documents and affidavits, including ?robo-signing.?
The settlement terms address servicing misconduct by Ocwen, and two companies later acquired by Ocwen, Homeward Residential Inc. and Litton Home Servicing LP. Ocwen specializes in servicing high-risk mortgage loans.
The settlement with the nation?s fourth largest mortgage servicer is the result of a massive civil law enforcement investigation and initiative that includes state attorneys general, state mortgage regulators and the CFPB. Through a court order, the settlement holds Ocwen accountable for past mortgage servicing and foreclosure abuses, provides relief to homeowners, and stops future fraud and abuse.
?What we found in the Ocwen case is similar to a lot of the problems we saw in our other mortgage servicer enforcement cases,? Mills said. ?While the National Mortgage Settlement appears to have halted many of the worst practices of the past, I am disturbed that many borrowers are still having difficulty in seeking modifications and resolving a threat of foreclosure. I am hopeful that this latest settlement with Ocwen will bring needed relief to affected homeowners and it will demonstrate to loan servicers that we will continue to hold them accountable.?
Attorney General Mills has been reviewing the foreclosure process in Maine this summer and fall at the request of the Legislature?s Judiciary Committee. Attorney General Mills has met with dozens of interested parties and convened two panel discussions with homeowner advocates, mediators and lenders to discuss how Maine?s foreclosure process is working and what could be done to improve the system. Attorney General Mills expects to report back to the Committee in January.
Under the settlement, Ocwen agreed to $2 billion in first-lien principal reduction, and $125 million for cash payments to borrowers on nearly 185,000 foreclosed loans. In Maine, the 739 homeowners who were foreclosed upon by Ocwen between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2012 are eligible for a cash payment. Eligible homeowners will be contacted by Ocwen. For homeowners who are in the foreclosure process with Ocwen, but not yet foreclosed upon, Ocwen has agreed to provide an estimated $8,138,187 in first lien principal reduction. These consumers are encouraged to contact Ocwen at 1-800-337-6695 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Joseph A. Smith, Jr., Monitor of the National Mortgage Settlement, will oversee the Ocwen agreement?s implementation and compliance through the Office of Mortgage Settlement Oversight.
The National Mortgage Settlement, a three-year agreement reached in 2012 with the attorneys general of 49 states and the District of Columbia, the federal government, and five mortgage servicers (Ally/GMAC, Bank of America, Citi, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo), has so far provided more than $51 billion in relief to distressed homeowners and created significant new servicing standards. The U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. entered the consent judgments on April 5, 2012.
The Ocwen settlement does not grant immunity from criminal offenses and would not affect any criminal prosecutions. The agreement does not prevent homeowners or investors from pursuing individual, institutional or class action civil cases. The agreement also preserves the authority of state attorneys general and federal agencies to investigate and pursue other aspects of the mortgage crisis, including securities cases.
Ocwen Agreement Highlights ? Ocwen commits to $2 billion in first-lien principal reduction. ? Ocwen pays $125 million cash to borrowers associated with 183,984 foreclosed loans. ? Homeowners receive comprehensive new protections from new mortgage loan servicing and foreclosure standards. ? An independent monitor will oversee implementation of the settlement to ensure compliance. ? The government can pursue civil claims outside of the agreement, and any criminal case; borrowers and investors can pursue individual, institutional or class action cases regardless of the agreement. ? Ocwen pays $2.3 million for settlement administration costs.
The final agreement, through a consent judgment, will be filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. If approved by a judge, it will have the authority of a court order.
Because of the complexity of the mortgage market and this agreement, which will span a three year period, in some cases Ocwen will contact borrowers directly regarding principal reductions. However, borrowers should contact Ocwen to obtain more information about principal reductions and whether they qualify under terms of this settlement.
A settlement administrator will contact qualified borrowers associated with foreclosed loans regarding cash payments.
More information will be made available as the settlement programs are implemented.