Connecticut, Utah AGs send accusatory letters to Bank of America
Two state attorneys general sent threatening letters to Bank of America (BAC) CEO Brian Moynihan this week, alleging the mega-bank's loss-mitigation efforts in Connecticut are insufficient and its default servicing subsidiary, Recon Trust, may be illegally foreclosing on Utah homes. The most pressing complaint comes from Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, who accuses Recon Trust of breaking laws that stipulate only state bar members and title insurance companies can qualify as valid "trustees of trust deeds" with the power to partake in foreclosure sales. Because ReconTrust is foreclosing in the state and does not fall within one of these two categories, Shurtleff alleges the bank is enforcing invalid foreclosures across the state. A spokesperson for the Utah AG said the number of foreclosures affected by Shurtleff's claims "is somewhere in the thousands." Bank of America responded, saying, "ReconTrust will continue to handle foreclosures in compliance with applicable laws. Bank of America makes every effort to reach out to delinquent customers to offer home retention options as well as foreclosure avoidance programs. Foreclosure is always our last resort." The state statutes outlining who can qualify as valid trustees of trust deeds were passed in 2001 and 2004. The statutes were upheld by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2009, the Utah AG said. "It is my understanding that ReconTrust claims that as a national bank it is exempt from following Utah law in exercising its fiduciary powers," Shurtleff wrote in the letter. "This office adamantly disagrees with that position on the basis that the section of the National Bank Act granting national banks authority to act in a fiduciary capacity specifically states that such authority shall be exercised only when not in contravention of state or local law." In Connecticut, Attorney General George Jepsen accused BofA of failing to devote enough services to help distressed homeowners in the state. "I express these concerns on behalf of the thousands of distressed Connecticut borrowers who continue to experience significant difficulties due to Bank of America's failure to devote adequate resources to loss mitigation," Jepsen wrote in his letter to Moynihan. “Bank of America can and should do more.” Jepsen said he is worried about the bank's plan to lift its Connecticut foreclosure moratorium in the near future. "I do not see that it has any credible plan to deal with the inevitable increase in requests from borrowers seeking loan modifications," he wrote in his letter. In response to Jepsen's claims, BofA said it recently met with Connecticut's AG to discuss his concerns and will continue to work with his office. "In Connecticut, we have partnered with area home counseling organizations, local government officials and agencies on home retention events and educational forums," BofA said. "Since 2009, we have participated in 15 outreach events in Connecticut covering all major urban areas, including Bridgeport, Hartford, East Hartford, Stamford, Norwalk, Danbury, New Haven and New London." The letters from the Connecticut and Utah attorneys general come as negotiations between mortgage servicers and the 50 state AGs and state regulators are ongoing. Individual AGs are also stepping up legal actions against servicers. On Wednesday, the California and Illinois attorneys general sent subpoenas to Lender Processing Services Inc. (LPS) and Illinois AG Lisa Madigan also subpoenaed National Title Clearing Inc. Write to Kerri Panchuk.