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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 13, 2010
Attorney General McKenna, DFI join multistate investigation into mortgage servicers

Joint Release
WASHINGTON ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE
WASHINGTON STATE DEPARTMENT OF FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS

SEATTLE – Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna and Scott Jarvis, director of the state Department of Financial Institutions, announced that they have joined attorneys general and banking regulators nationwide in forming a multistate group to investigate whether mortgage servicers have improperly submitted affidavits or other documents related to foreclosure in their states.

McKenna said the Washington Attorney General’s Office will serve on the executive committee of the multistate group, while simultaneously pursuing its own investigation that began in May. McKenna and Jarvis scheduled a press conference at 9:30 a.m. today in Seattle to reveal additional efforts to address foreclosure-related problems in Washington state. They’ll be joined by representatives of the Washington State Housing Finance Commission.

Members of the multistate group include attorneys general of 50 states and mortgage regulators in 30 states. They issued a joint statement today through the National Association of Attorney General in which they voiced their shared concerns over reports that a number of mortgage loan servicers have submitted affidavits or signed other documents in support of foreclosures that appear to have procedural defects. 

“It appears affidavits and other documents have been signed by persons who did not have personal knowledge of the facts asserted in the documents,” the members wrote. “In addition, it appears that many affidavits were signed outside of the presence of a notary public, contrary to state law. This process of signing documents without confirming their accuracy has come to be known as ‘robo-signing.’ We believe such a process may constitute a deceptive act and/or an unfair practice or otherwise violate state laws.”

“We live in a nation of laws,” McKenna said. “Those laws apply to the rich – and in this case, the poor – alike. Unfortunately, people lose homes during an economic downturn. But they have the expectation that if they are subject to a foreclosure, it will be done legally. That’s what this investigation is about.”

“DFI’s participation on this multi-state group is an example of our commitment to consumer protection focused in the mortgage industry,” Jarvis said. “These allegations of ‘robo-signing’ are but one example of questionable actions that cause undue harm and hardship to homeowners desperately struggling to keep their homes. The creation of this multi-state committee is a step in the right direction to better protect consumers not just in our state, but throughout our country.”

Jim Sugarman and David Huey, assistant attorneys general in the Consumer Protection Division, and Deborah Bortner, director of DFI’s Division of Consumer Services, will represent Washington on the new multistate group.

The multistate group, through its executive committee, will contact a comprehensive list of individual mortgage servicers. The group’s initial goals include:

  • Put an immediate stop to improper mortgage foreclosure practices.
  • Review past and present practices by mortgage servicers subject to the inquiry.
  • Evaluate potential remedies for past practices and to deter future improper practices.
  • Establish a mechanism for more effective independent monitoring of future mortgage foreclosure practices.

The Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, a joint federal-state initiative co-chaired by McKenna, is also investigating certain aspects of these foreclosure problems.

JOINT STATEMENT 


Media Contacts:  Kristin Alexander, AGO Media Relations Manager, (206) 464-6432, kalexander@atg.wa.gov

Lyn Peters, DFI Communications Director, (360) 902-8731, lyn.peters@dfi.wa.gov

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