Tony West leaving DOJ after negotiating massive RMBS settlements

Led DOJ’s toxic mortgage task force

Associate Attorney General Tony West, who led the U.S. Department of Justice’s task force on toxic mortgages, is set to leave for the private sector next month.

West was the third in command at the DOJ, behind Attorney General Eric Holder and Deputy Attorney General James Cole. In his role, he headed the DOJ’s residential mortgage-backed security task force that in the past several months has secured massive settlements with Citigroup (C), JPMorgan Chase (JPM), Bank of America (BAC) and others over the banks’ toxic mortgage lending practices that led to the collapse of the housing economy.

“His service as Associate Attorney General has been marked by significant achievement – from his leadership in securing the landmark reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act; to his passionate advocacy for the rights of American Indian and Alaska Native peoples; to his tireless work to combat financial fraud, hold corporations accountable, and fight for American consumers,” Holder said.

In the last few months, West has been at the forefront of the negotiations in the $16.65 billion settlement between the DOJ and Bank of America over toxic residential mortgage-backed securities, collateralized debt obligations and an origination release on residential mortgage loans sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Prior to BofA’s settlement, West led the negotiation between the DOJ and JPMorgan Chase that led to a $13 billion settlement in November over similar claims and a $7 billion settlement with Citigroup over residential mortgage-backed securities and collateralized debt obligation.

After the Citigroup settlement was announced, Holder warned that the Citi settlement was not going to be the last that the DOJ would pursue.

“In the meantime, we're not letting up and we're not going away; we will continue to pursue these cases and follow the facts wherever they lead and enforce the law fairly but aggressively should we uncover evidence of unlawful conduct,” West said at the time. “And as the Attorney General indicated a moment ago, the American people should expect to hear more from the RMBS Working Group in the very near future.”

West backed up his words with the record BofA settlement and now he’s off to the private sector. Sept. 15 will be West’s last day with the DOJ. West has not disclosed where he will work next, but Holder said that West will be sorely missed at the DOJ.

“Over the years, Tony’s efforts have made a tremendous and lasting difference in the lives of millions of people across the country,” Holder said. “I have been honored to count him as a colleague – and privileged to work alongside him. I thank him for his service, and his friendship, over the past five years. And although I wish him the best as he opens an exciting new chapter in his career, I will miss his leadership, his many contributions, and his steadfast commitment to the cause of justice.”

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