Fla. AG says she supports foreclosure settlement

Jessica M. Karmasek Jan. 27, 2012, 10:52am




TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Legal Newsline) - Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi says she's standing behind a rumored $25 billion deal with the nation's top mortgage servicers.

Bondi, who was one of the state attorneys general to help negotiate the settlement, told the Palm Beach Post homeowners need relief now.

"The settlement under discussion contains all the elements California purports to be looking for; transparency, substantial relief for distressed homeowners, and strict enforcement," the attorney general said Thursday.

California Attorney General Kamala Harris has rejected the latest proposed settlement, calling it "inadequate."

The newest proposed settlement, which would cover only those mortgages held by the five banks, is said to lower nearly 1 million homeowners' mortgages by about $20,000 and provide for payments of $1,800 to those harmed by the banks' lending practices.

Harris, who stepped away from negotiations in September, said the newest version of the deal was still too lenient, providing too much protection for financial institutions, and would prevent the State from taking legal action against the banks.

Without California, the deal will reportedly decrease by $6 billion.

But Harris isn't the only attorney general not to sign off on the settlement.

Miller's spokesman, Geoff Greenwood, told the Post that Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden also has rejected the plan.

Meanwhile, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who has been highly critical of the nationwide talks, is remaining mum on whether he will join the settlement.

In August, Schneiderman was removed from an executive committee negotiating the foreclosure settlement for "actively" working to "undermine" its effort.

Since then, he -- along with Harris, Biden and Nevada's Catherine Cortez Masto -- has started his own comprehensive investigation.

This week, the New York attorney general also was selected by President Barack Obama to co-chair a national mortgage crisis unit aimed at investigating home lending by banks.

The unit is designed to focus on those actions that created the financial crisis, not the abuses that occurred after, he explained.

Talks between the state attorneys general, federal officials and the five banks -- Wells Fargo & Co., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc., Ally Financial Inc. and Bank of America Corp. -- have dragged on for months now.

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

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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