NY judge wants HSBC CEO to explain bank's foreclosure actions
The courtroom battle over a Brooklyn home foreclosure reached the executive suite this past week, with New York Supreme Court Judge Arthur Schack calling out HSBC's (HBC) attorneys and CEO and President Irene Dorner for potentially violating foreclosure guidelines in New York state. The original case — HSBC Bank USA, N.A. v Taher — involved a Brooklyn homeowner who protested a foreclosure action in court. The loan tied to the property was held in trust, with HSBC serving as trustee. A spokesperson for HSBC responded to the allegations, saying "HSBC did not service the loan in question and neither prepared or filed any of the legal documents presented to the court. HSBC's role in the case is limited to that of Trustee." Furthermore, the company said, "All references in the ruling to the servicing of this loan - including assertions of robo-signing - relate to the servicer, not HSBC as Trustee. We will address all matters related to the ruling directly with the court." According to court documents, Ocwen is the servicer for HSBC. Judge Schack, scheduled a July 15 hearing to follow up with HSBC attorneys and Dorner on the grounds that he believes both parties should have to answer questions raised about the bank's handling of foreclosure documents and potential robo-signing. Robo-signing involves the mass signing of foreclosure documents without the signatory actually reviewing the documents and their content. It became an issue last fall and resulted in several large servicers instituting foreclosure moratoria as they worked to correct the problems. While executives generally are not the players who are called into court on foreclosure issues, Judge Schack said the inquiry should go beyond the lawyers, writing in his order that Dorner, as CEO and President of HSBC, is "captain of the ship" and "must bear responsibility for its (the company's) defeats and mistakes." In court filings, Judge Schack said the company's counsel was warned about submitting materials with "defects in foreclosure filings," including issues stemming from robo-signing concerns, late last year. To investigate whether those warnings were heeded, the court said it "will examine the conduct of plaintiff HSBC and plaintiffs counsel" to see if "CEO and President Irene Dorner and plaintiff's counsel Frank M. Cassara and his firm Shapiro, DiCaro & Barak LLC engaged in frivolous conduct." Write to Kerri Panchuk.