Waters addresses a few major concerns in her most recent leltter, including the difficulty of reaching some of the affected borrowers, conflicts of interests between the banks and the independent reviewers, and the qualifications of those contracted to audit foreclosure cases.
After receiving no response to her original request three months ago, Waters sent a second letter to acting Comptroller of the Currency John Walsh and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke last week. Fifteen of her colleagues joined her in her request.
“With more than six months having passed since the release of the Consent Orders, and more than three months having passed since our initial request for transparency,
we fear that public confidence in this process is quickly eroding,” Waters writes.
Waters stresses that after foreclosure, it will be difficult to track down some borrowers, and thus far “[s]ervicers have a poor track-record in effectively engaging with borrowers.”
In addition, while the reviews are supposedly “independent,” some have raised concerns about conflicts of interest. An American Banker article earlier this month called attention to the fact that the consent orders allow banks to choose their own independent reviewers.
As such, banks are engaging with firms they have worked with on a regular basis – firms which rely on the banks for recurring auditing assignments, the article states.
Lastly, Waters cites job solicitations for “mortgage foreclosure file reviewers” that do not require legal expertise. “Distressingly, the job solicitations for these positions seem to suggest that servicers intend to hire individuals with no more expertise than the so-called ‘robo-signers’ that created many of these problems in the first place,” she states in the letter.
“The only way this claims process will be fair is if the regulators shine a bright light on mortgage servicers, and make them demonstrate to the public how they’re being held accountable,” Waters says. “To date, this entire exercise has been conducted in the shadows.”
“I fear that without greater transparency, we’re setting homeowners, and foreclosed-upon families, up for more disappointment,” Waters adds.