Mortgage deal talks push on

Jessica M. Karmasek Jan. 25, 2012, 2:00pm


DES MOINES, Iowa (Legal Newsline) - Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller said Tuesday a group of state attorneys general and federal officials haven't yet reached an agreement with the nation's top mortgage servicers.

Miller also told Bloomberg's BusinessWeek that they won't reach a settlement "any time this week."

On Monday, Democratic state attorneys general were asked to attend a meeting in Chicago with federal officials in hopes of gaining support for a rumored $25 billion settlement with the banks.

Republican state attorneys general discussed the proposed settlement over the phone the same day.

Miller, who is leading the talks, told BusinessWeek that an agreement is getting closer but that there were still "issues to be worked out."

He would not say if there is a deadline to vote on an agreement and did not give any indication when one might be reached.

The Iowa attorney general had said in December that a deal should be done by Christmas.

For months, Miller has been heading up talks with the five banks over their mortgage foreclosure practices, including Wells Fargo & Co., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc., Ally Financial Inc. and Bank of America Corp.

According to BusinessWeek, the deal would decrease by $6 billion if California Attorney General Kamala Harris does not sign on.

In September, Harris sent a letter to Associate U.S. Attorney General Thomas Perrelli and Miller, calling the proposed deal "inadequate" for homeowners. She argued it provided too much protection for financial institutions.

Harris wouldn't be the only one not to sign on to the settlement.

Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden said he won't sign on to the deal as currently drafted, his office told BusinessWeek.

A spokesman for Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler told the Baltimore Sun that Gansler hasn't decided if he will sign on to the deal either.

Gansler has been getting pressure from various groups not to sign off on the settlement.

Other attorneys general are concerned about agreeing to a deal with the banks.

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley has filed a lawsuit against the five.

Harris, Biden, New York's Eric Schneiderman and Nevada's Catherine Cortez Masto all have started their own investigations.

The probe began in October 2010 with inquiries into so-called "robosigning" practices by several mortgage companies, and has since broadened into identifying and addressing additional alleged improper foreclosure practices.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at

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