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News Now

Washington
Inside Washington (05/23/2011)
* WASHINGTON (5/24/11)--The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) outlined a more thorough process for big banks to review their foreclosures on Friday. Joe Evers, the OCC’s deputy comptroller for large banks, emphasized that the process will not include short cuts such as submitting a high-level sample of foreclosures (American Banker May 23). Large banks such as Bank of America Corp. and Wells Fargo & Co. may have several thousand foreclosure files reviewed by auditors. Any errors will result in more extensive reviews, possibly of entire portfolios, according to the OCC. But the findings of the reviews will be sealed, a detail that some critics criticized. Law firms will review foreclosures to determine if servicers had proper legal standing, but the OCC will not allow them to audit fees and penalties assessed. The process will be handled by accounting firms such as PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, Navigant Consulting Inc. and Promontory Financial Group LLC. Francine McKenna, a forensic accountant, questioned whether the large accounting firms would be credible, because they had signed off on financial statements of mortgage servicers … * WASHINGTON (5/24/11)--A long list of proposed new rules could have negative consequences for the securitization market, financial services representatives told a Senate Banking Committee on Friday (American Banker May 23). They worry that rules such as new risk-retention requirements, proposed Basel III restrictions, Volcker Rule limitations and enhanced derivatives regulation will give the private market little chance of making a full recovery. Their primary concern is how the risk-retention proposal will affect the securitization market. A proposal by federal banking regulators requires lenders to retain 5% of the credit risk on loans they securitize. Some in the industry maintain that the criteria are too strict and will result in less-available mortgage credit. But Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) said because lenders were allowed to cut corners during the financial crisis--emphasizing volume over quality and easy fees over long-term viability--government intervention became necessary to maintain the viability of the markets …


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