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Lawmaker wants original copies of foreclosure review letters

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Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., requested the government oversight committee subpoena mortgage servicers in order to see any previous business completed with the third-party consulting firms responsible for the foreclosure reviews. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency approved the third-party firms and released their engagement letters with the servicers Tuesday. Under consent orders signed in April, the 14 largest mortgage servicers had to hire consultants to conduct look-back reviews of nearly 4.5 million foreclosure cases filed in the last two years. The firms will be looking for any fraudulent or negligent practices on modifications, affidavits and will determine what damages borrowers incurred from the errors. But the engagement letters released Tuesday redacted pages of information, most of it regarding any previous business completed between a servicer and its consultant. Potential conflicts of interest were also blacked out, though the OCC said it rejected some agreements where it detected a possible problem. Cummings was not satisfied Tuesday. He is the ranking member of the committee and pressed Chair Darrell Issa, R-Calif., repeatedly in the past months to subpoena the firms in order to ensure there is no conflict of interest. "Although I am encouraged that some information is being made public today, our Committee should issue subpoenas to obtain full, unredacted copies of these documents so we can ensure that homeowners are being fully and appropriately compensated," Cummings said in a statement. In May, Cummings asked for full copies of the engagement letters. Regulators told Cummings they could not grant him the full letters unless they were "legally compelled to do so," according to the representative's office. In July, Issa agreed to investigate possible wrongful foreclosures on military members, but he has yet to decide if the committee will issue subpoenas on the wider foreclosure problems. His office did not immediately reply to a request for comment. Write to Jon Prior. Follow him on Twitter @JonAPrior.

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