OCC names robo-signing reviewers
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency released the names of the third-party consultant firms that will be conducting the reviews of more than 4.5 million foreclosure files at the largest mortgage servicers. Under the consent orders signed with the OCC and the Federal Reserve, servicers such as Bank of America (BAC), JPMorgan Chase (JPM), and Wells Fargo (WFC) had to hire these firms to independently review foreclosures completed between Jan. 1, 2009 and Dec. 31, 2010 in order to identify which borrowers directly affected by fraudulent and messy practices. Last year, the servicers were found to be foreclosing on borrowers during modification trials. Some firms were found to forging signatures on some processing documents, as well. The reviews began in November. The servicers began mailing letters to eligible borrowers explaining how they can request a review of their case and receive a possible remediation. The borrower has until April 30, 2012 to request a review. Promontory Financial Group will be reviewing files at BofA, Wells and PNC Bank (PNC). Deloitte & Touche will be reviewing files at Chase. PricewaterhouseCoopers will conduct reviews at Citi and U.S. Bank (USB). Ernst & Young will review files at HSBC (HBC) and MetLife Bank (MET). Clayton Services will conduct reviews at EverBank. Navigant Consulting will go through files at OneWest. And Treliant Risk Advisors will conduct reviews at Sovereign Bank. Two other servicers that signed consent orders Ally Financial (GJM) and SunTrust Banks (STI) are regulated by the Fed. The third-party companies reviewing their files have not been released yet. "The Federal Reserve is nearing completion of its review of engagement letters between the mortgage servicers it supervises and the independent consultants who will review the files of foreclosed borrowers," a spokesperson said. "Once the review is complete, the Federal Reserve intends to publicly disclose as much of the letters as possible." The servicers submitted engagement letters with their selected consultants in July. The OCC said it evaluated the companies for any conflicts of interest before approval. The agency did say it had to reject some proposals. In only some cases will the consultant review 100% of the file, including certain bankruptcy cases in foreclosure between 2009 and 2010, any foreclosure cases filed against military service members, cases referred by state or federal agencies, and any borrower claims approved under the consent order program. The consultants will then sample mortgages based on geography, which attorneys handled the cases, borrower history and any modification programs such as HAMP. The reviews will determine whether the servicer or attorney properly documented ownership of the mortgage and whether it was done under state and federal law. The consultants will determine if a foreclosure sale occurred while the borrower was in a modification or under consideration for some other loss-mitigation tool, such as a short sale. The reviews will cover any inappropriate fees charged outside of state or federal law. Interestingly, the consultants will also check to see if guidelines for HAMP and even the banks' own proprietary program were followed correctly. Then, the review will seek to determine if any of these errors or misrepresentations resulted in direct financial injury. "While much of the work to correct identified weaknesses in policies, operating procedures, control functions and audit processes will be substantially completed in the first part of 2012, other longer term initiatives will continue through the balance of 2012. Actions and progress vary by servicer," the OCC said. Write to Jon Prior. Follow him on Twitter @JonAPrior.