Thu, Jan 10, 2013 - Page 15 News List

More banks may join Fed-led settlement


Goldman Sachs Group Inc, Morgan Stanley and two other banks may agree as soon as this week to settle claims over botched foreclosures in an accord similar to one reached with 10 other loan servicers, two people briefed on the discussions said.

The agreement, also involving HSBC Holdings Inc and Ally Financial Inc, would end case-by-case reviews of foreclosures under earlier accords with the biggest mortgage servicers, said the people, who declined to be identified because the talks are private. The US Federal Reserve-led discussions specified at least US$1.5 billion in cash and assistance for borrowers, one of the people said.

Ten servicers agreed on Monday to a US$8.5 billion settlement with the Fed and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) that ends the outside reviews in exchange for a deal that limits their costs to US$3.3 billion in cash for foreclosures in 2009 and 2010, and US$5.2 billion in other mortgage-related aid.

The new settlement could bring the industry payout to US$10 billion and expands beyond the 14 firms required to review foreclosures under the April 2011 agreement.

IndyMac Bancorp’s successor OneWest Bank FSB, and EverBank Financial Corp have yet to reach settlements with regulators.

“We continue to have conversations with the servicers we regulate who were under April 2011 enforcement actions but were not part of the settlement,” OCC spokesman Bryan Hubbard said. OneWest, EverBank and HSBC are included, he said.

Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley entered the mortgage servicing business through acquisitions. Goldman Sachs bought Litton Loan Servicing LP in 2007, and Morgan Stanley bought Saxon Capital Inc in 2006, before a housing market collapse that led to the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

Litton initiated 135,586 foreclosure actions in 2009 and 2010, and Saxon initiated at least 60,313 actions in the same period, according to the Fed. Both New York-based banks later sold the servicers.

Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs were separately ordered by the Fed to hire outside consultants to conduct foreclosure reviews. Their case-by-case reviews paralleled those ordered in the April 2011 settlement.

Eric Kollig, a Fed spokesman, declined to comment on settlement talks. Mary Claire Delaney, a Morgan Stanley spokeswoman, and Michael DuVally, a Goldman Sachs spokesman, also declined to comment.

HSBC “remains in discussions” with regulators, according to Neil Brazil, a spokesman, who declined to comment further.

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