Ex-N.C. Banking Commissioner Monitors $25 Billion Settlement
Raleigh News & Observer (NC)
May 1, 2012
North Carolina's former banking commissioner has shouldered the task of monitoring the landmark $25 billion national foreclosure settlement, overseeing five of the country's biggest banks over the next three years. Joseph Smith Jr. said that while he does not expect the settlement alone to reform the industry, he is hopeful that its consumer protections and compliance provisions will serve as a model for new federal regulations on all mortgage providers. The settlement came after news surfaced that some of the nation's largest banks engaged in a practice known as "robo-signing," or endorsing foreclosure documents without verifying them for accuracy. The settlement with Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, J.P.Morgan Chase, and Ally Financial requires the banks to establish new foreclosure practices and provide more than $20 billion in "consumer relief." Additionally, the financial institutions will be required to submit quarterly reports to Smith, along with reports from independent review groups. As monitor of the Office of Mortgage Settlement Oversight, Smith said he plans to hire a major accounting firm to help him track the banks practices; and he is prepared -- and empowered -- to seek a court injunction against banks that fail to comply, forcing them to comply or seeking fines against them.
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