Sunday, August 21, 2011

When will someone actually do something about Bank of America? - Again

Mr. Moynihan, once again, have you no shame?

Yet another example of BofA's sociopathic culture

Where does the buck stop, Mr. Moynihan?

And how long will it take for the board's tacit acceptance of this kind of abuse to finally poison any remaining shareholder confidence?

One can only hope the media begins to shine a more focused light on this ruthless enterprise.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

When will someone actually do something about Bank of America?

If you're not already sickened by BofA's utter disregard for even the most fundamental tenets of right and wrong, maybe yet another story of a sociopathic corporate culture will finally make even a few of those kow-towing to K-Street rethink their own sense of humanity; or not.

According to Courthouse News, BofA (actually, its renamed, notoriously predatory Countrywide adopted child), did what its all-too-well-known for - acted as if it were above the law in a most egregious way.

Crabtree v. BofA

The TBTF rescuer of the toxic Countrywide has been struggling with the impact the acquisition has had on shareholder value, but the leadership of the company has been unwilling to take steps to change the absurdly obnoxious and illegal behavior so endemic to the Countrywide culture.

Public pronouncements by BofA's CEO and various corporate mouthpieces have been predictably obtuse and carefully crafted to avoid admissions of wrongdoing even in light of incredibly reckless and illegal behavior.

They can get away with that because, for the protected class BofA's executives are members of, they have no personal liability to anyone; the company is TBTF, the DOJ won't act, shareholders are powerless (or marginalized) and for some reason, customers of the bank aren't morally outraged enough to take their business elsewhere.

So it's time to out the Board of Directors of this pathologically corrupt, morally bankrupt enterprise.

According to the BofA web site - these are the people who are willing to sit back and tacitly approve the kind of behaviors involved in the operation of BofA:

Charles O. Holliday, Jr., (63), Chairman of the Board, Bank of America Corporation
Mukesh D. Ambani, (54), Chairman and Managing Director, Reliance Industries Ltd.
Susan S. Bies, (64), Former Member, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
Frank P. Bramble, Sr. (63), Former Executive Officer, MBNA Corporation
Virgis W. Colbert, (71), Senior Advisor, MillerCoors Company
Charles K. Gifford, (68), Former Chairman, Bank of America Corporation
D. Paul Jones, Jr., (68), Former Chairman, CEO and President, Compass Bancshares, Inc.
Monica C. Lozano, (55), Chief Executive Officer, ImpreMedia, LLC
Thomas J. May, (64), Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, NSTAR
Brian T. Moynihan, (51), Chief Executive Officer, Bank of America Corporation
Donald E. Powell, (70), Former Chairman, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)
Charles O. Rossotti, (70), Senior Advisor, The Carlyle Group
Robert W. Scully, (61), Former Member of the Office of the Chairman, Morgan Stanley

Corporate corruption of the kind routinely displayed at BofA cannot exist in a company with a board of directors that won't tolerate it. Granted, Holliday, Gifford and Moynihan are hopelessly in league with the "we've done nothing wrong" faction and before you get the idea that you can simply write a letter to one of them, consider this advice from the site:

Persons seeking to communicate with the Board of Directors, any director, non-management members of the Board as a group or any committee of the Board should send a letter to the Corporate Secretary at Bank of America Corporation, 214 N. Tryon St., NC1-027-20-05, Charlotte, NC 28255. The letter should indicate to whom the communication is intended. The Corporate Secretary or the secretary of the designated committee may sort or summarize the communications as appropriate. Communications that are commercial solicitations, customer complaints, incoherent or obscene will not be communicated to the Board or any director or committee of the Board.

Nice how they've insulated themselves from "customer complaints."

But how about a few thousand good-old-fashioned letters to the BofA board referencing the Crabtree case, asking the simple question: "Have you no shame?"

On second thought, we already know the answer.

The Honorable Judge Roy Bean

Friday, July 08, 2011

False hopes and dreams of justice

In case you're not old enough to recognize the TV star and character at left, he is none other than Robert Stack (January 13, 1919 – May 14, 2003) appearing in his role as Elliot Ness in the Untouchables series that ran from 1959 until 1963.

Hard-nosed and dedicated to his work, Ness went after the mob in Chicago, specifically Al Capone's operation, eventually destroying or disabling a significant portion of the organization's ability to function in terms of violations of the Volstead Act (prohibition). Capone, of course, went to prison for income tax problems.

We who are old enough to have seen the legend on the small, black-and-white screen over the years, also grew up with other similarly strong, self-assured and do-what-is-right types like Perry Mason, Sergeant Joe Friday and even less famous enforcers like Lt. Frank Ballinger (Lee Marvin in M Squad).

Some of this exposure probably inculcated an expectation of swift (half-hour or an hour at the most) justice where wrong-doers are not only identified, they're captured and prosecuted.

Maybe those expectations are too high in today's more complex and sophisticated world; now, some fifty years later, a more enlightened sense of justice has emerged, one where who you are and your position where you work means you aren't subject to the same kind of risks as ordinary individuals.

Unlike ordinary people who commit crimes, corporations are given a number of special considerations, specifically, according to the Department of Justice, prosecutors (among other things) are supposed to evaluate "... collateral consequences, including disproportionate harm to shareholders, pension holders and employees not proven personally culpable and impact on the public arising from the prosecution."

This makes sense if and when a rogue employee engages in an illegal act that the shareholders and many of the other employees weren't aware of or couldn't prevent, but when widespread breaking of the law is present those considerations shouldn't be a factor.

Frankly, if shareholders are stupid enough to invest in a predator, I have little sympathy for them. As for employees not involved, I have some sympathy if they were truly ignorant. As far as impact on the public - that's absurd on its face; the impact is worse if the laws aren't enforced.

But such is the state of our Department of Justice and the evidence that has emerged is the same "too big to fail" treatment of Wall Street firms and entities in the mortgage meltdown got from the other players in Washington.

Instead of investigating crimes, in the last decade or so the Department of Justice has taken a "wink wink, nod nod" approach to a protected class of well-connected companies and executives. In this 21st century version of justice, a corporation is given a chance to investigate itself and take remedial action if need be. The term "deferred prosecution" is often used to refer to this approach.

The largest extant example of this practice surrounds Goldman Sachs. One notable analyst downplays any potential risk to the firm in the alleged on-going SEC investigation by pointing out this reality:

"With approximately 17 percent of the ownership in the hands of current and former partners, this control group has ample motivation to make amends with politicians and the public in order to reduce the threat to its franchise.Brad Hintz, Sanford C. Bernstein & Co.

With one notable exception (Lee Farkas obviously wasn't well-connected enough to make amends with politicians to reduce the threat to his franchise), Washington, more specifically, the Department Of Justice, no longer has the stomach for actually prosecuting the protected class.

But this deliberate hands-off approach has had one very important benefit for the perpetrators of the mortgage debacle  - the crimes that were committed late in the last decade and earlier in this one are rapidly aging beyond not only the statutes of limitation but are becoming compromised by the sheer unreliability or availability of credible witnesses.

Now comes the hoopla over robo-signing, LPS/DocX, fraudulent foreclosures and forgery and where is the Department of Justice?

Sitting on its hands while most of the Attorneys General of the fifty states negotiate with the perpetrators and Congress wrings its hands over mortgage servicing instead of doing something about their friends in the protected class.

Elliot Ness would be rolling over in his grave.

The Honorable Judge Roy Bean

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Are the Journalists Just Ignorant?

With all the news about the foreclosure mess anyone who actually knows anything about it has to be asking themselves why the media seems so surprised?

I keep seeing articles, blog posts and even tweets from the supposedly-informed reporters who are either incompetent to actually write about a subject or are simply in such a hurry to get the next word out that they don't want to take the time to do anything but sort-of-copy someone else in the feeding frenzy.

An even cursory look into the scams would reveal the major players like Fidelity and DocX and that, of course, would lead to how far back they've been doing the exact same thing.

If a REAL journalistic investigation were to keep digging (and there is still hope they will not be driven off by He Who Has the Gold) they'd find there are people now being set up to take the fall for the major corporate entities and foreclosure mills that designed, colluded, conspired and perpetrated the giant garbage disposal operation for the lending industry.

Any writer that asserts this is some kind of new thing simply demonstrates how the news media players have been much like the lap-dogs at the FTC; as long as "those people" (you know, the ones with supposedly damaged credit or that can't afford their homes or that made bad choices, etc., etc., or that were minorities), letting the industry break the law and take advantage of "them" was OK.

And instead of holding the criminal investigative agencies' feet to the fire and not letting them sweep the scam under the rug, the reporters are content to interview business executives who see all kinds of gloom-and-doom for the economy if the fraudsters are actually penalized.

He Who Has the Gold is obviously making the rules for the coverage of the story and their partners in these crimes, the foreclosure mills, are so above the law they're not even worried.

Any bets on whether there will be disciplinary actions taken against the foreclosure mills? Don't count on it; that would jeopardize too many foreclosure opportunities and only open more doors to challenges from their victims.

The Honorable Judge Roy Bean

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Get Ready for a Legislative Rescue for Foreclosure Perpetrators

He who has the gold is not going to sit idly by after their last-gasp (and only recently failed) attempt to thwart the ability to foreclose without regard to standing.

There are probably millions of people out there who have been energized by the false hope that because their homes were (from a purely legal process standpoint) stolen from them they might somehow be entitled to redress.

The reality of life is they're still screwed.

The justice system doesn't work that way, as perverse as it might seem to the victims. Courts don't go back and fix the damage they allowed to happen.

The victims have no recourse against the court system. All they can do is file suit against the perpetrators of the fraudulent foreclosure if they even still exist. That takes money; lots and lots of money.

Do you see the pattern repeating here - perpetrators of a perfectly-conceived scam not having to worry because victims don't have the resources to go after them even after it's proven to be a scam?

We have what we have because we keep re-electing the people who are content to watch it happen and they're going to let the squaliformes prevail yet again.

The Honorable Judge Roy Bean.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

AG's Leap Into Action! LOL!

If you ever want to see politics at work, just monitor what the various AG's around the country leap into when there's an opportunity to make it look like they're standing watch to protect the citizens of their state.

For over a decade now, the mortgage industry has taken advantage of their relentlessly effective garbage disposal (foreclosure mills) to hide their culpability in shedding themselves of those nasty sub-prime mortgages that they were more than happy to originate but don't want to have to answer for.

Even with tens and even hundreds of millions of dollars worth of judgments and settlements, the Squaliformes were still making so much money that they just couldn't help themselves and had to keep on feeding the foreclosure machine rather than modify loans and keep people in homes.

The dirty "secrets" (which were never really a secret among victims or a handful of determined counsel who would challenge the system) are the convenient "affidavit of lost note" documents that courts were more than happy to accept because the law firms tossing them into the garbage disposal supposedly had a signature and a notary's seal on them.

Now, of course in hindsight, a bunch of people who have been asleep at the switch for so long are supposedly aghast that such things have been going on for years.

Hmmm . . . could it be there's an election just 'round the corner?

If you want to see a political animal at work just look at the Attorney General in any given state.

Imagine having a job that only requires you to do something if some awful thing finally reaches a catastrophic level; one that gives you the opportunity to step in and take advantage of so that you can appear effective and advance your opportunity to higher office.

What a great job! How can you lose?

And the media is thrilled to see them in action! AG does this, AG does that. AG takes perpetrator to task, gets a few million here and there . . . oh, but wait - perpetrator admits no wrongdoing and is still in business.

In other words, the perpetrators of crimes against the citizens of states do little more than pay a pittance for what they did and the AG gets the publicity for the upcoming campaign.

Ain't it just grand?

The Honorable Judge Roy Bean

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Wells Fargo Whacked for Debit Posting Scam

Uber-Squaliforme Wells Fargo has been hit by the US District Court in California for raking in billions of overdraft fees by manipulating the posting dates and times of debit card charges to ensure they would collect multiple overdraft fees.

The suit, which has been grinding its way through Judge William Alsup's* court since 2007, is a class-action claim that could affect millions of customers, including former ones that they have to help track down.

Wells will not only pay $203 Million in restitution, they have to cease the practice by the end of November.

Now the question remains, will the rest of the industry simply re-write their cardholder agreements to tell customers they do it or will they do the right thing and process the debits in the proper order?

The Honorable Judge Roy Bean.

*(If the name of the Judge sounds familiar to readers here, he is the same Judge that heard the Dorean Group trial and sentenced Johnson and Heineman to twelve years.)