John Dizard has a useful, and clearly written, piece on the lay of the land in this morning's FT. What puzzles me is why PDVSA, the national oil company, has not done a UK scheme of arrangement or a US prepack to exchange the bonds, instead of messing around with an exchange offer. But the entire situation is rather opaque.
“I found the [Mediator’s resignation] letter to be a little bit bewildering.”
–A. Benjamin Goldbar, Chicago Bankruptcy Judge, September 21, 2016.
Judge Goldbar is, obviously, an excellent jurist with excellent judgment.
But everyone makes mistakes. And Judge Goldbar’s flap with the Caesars mediator over mediation confidentiality is one of those mistakes.
Mediation confidentiality is a nearly-sacred precept today. There is a uniformity of belief, worldwide, that mediation effectiveness is dependent upon a cloak of confidentiality and that privacy of mediation information is a supreme value.
Judge Goldbar’s mistake is his failure to recognize this confidentiality precept, both in his initial ruling and in his follow-up “bewildering” explanation.
Verengo, Inc., a well-known installer of residential solar power systems, filed for Ch. 11 in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware (Case No. 16-12098). Verengo attributes its filing to quality issues with its former operations in the eastern United States. Despite selling its northeast operations to NRG Energy, Inc. and restructuring its remaining lines of business, Verengo is unable to service its current debts. Verengo indicates that it will pursue a sale under 11 U.S.C. 363(c). Crius Solar Fulfillment, the proposed DIP Lender, is also the proposed stalking horse. The petition (including the consolidated list of top 20 creditors), the first day declaration and the docket are available through Upshot Services LLC.
Another day, another woe: The pressure on Wells Fargo continues to increase. Eight Democrat senators Thursday asked the Labor Department to open an investigation into the bank's workplace practices. Specifically, the senators, led by Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., asked the department's Wage and Hour Division to examine whether Wells "aggressively skirted" overtime laws and failed to properly compensate its lower-level employees. Labor said it was taking "very seriously" complaints about how the bank...
Back in July, we touched on the doctrine of equitable mootness in the context of a bankruptcy settlement agreement. Last week, the Delaware District Court employed equitable mootness in its opinion dismissing a plan confirmation appeal in the Allied Nevada Gold Corp. bankruptcy. Unless an appellant can raise a valid confirmation appeal before substantial consummation of the Chapter 11 plan, equitable mootness favors dismissal.
We haven't heard from Carrie Tolstedt yet, but she has been in the spotlight all week, as seemingly everyone wants an explanation from Wells Fargo. JPMorgan Chase puts even more focus on digital channels, and Politico has a piece on the opportunities fintech offers women, especially female bankers, with a caveat. Also, the B of A bros' club suit has been settled.
No, you have not accidentally stumbled upon the Georgia Criminal Law Blog, and I am not going to change my practice area just yet (though on the slow days I often think about it). I happen to come across this case today and thought it may be of interest, especially with the news we see every day now. With the BAPCPA now approaching 11 years in age and Bankruptcy slow, I may make a habit of occasionally straying from the topic.
The goal every debtor has after filing bankruptcy is simple—a fresh start! Chapter 7 Bankruptcy offers a fresh start much quicker than Chapter 13 simply because the unsecured creditor’s debts are erased and allows you to pay for the debts you want to keep direct such as a mortgage or car payment. In Chapter 13, a plan typically is five years where you repay all or part of the debt you owe. The mortgage is usually paid direct to the mortgage company with any arrears included in the Chapter 13 plan.
"But Chapter 9 has awakened, and we do not presume further disputes over its interpretive and practical complexities will remain long at rest."
So says a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Deocampo v. Potts (14-16192), filed since the last Credit Slips posting about civil rights debts in municipal bankruptcy. My working paper is newly revised to discuss the Ninth Circuit's ruling. Just a few points here.
The Ninth Circuit reached the right result in holding that the Vallejo bankruptcy did not relieve the police officer defendants of their individual liability for 1983 violations (excessive force). The court also held that Vallejo's state law obligation to indemnify the police officer defendants was not discharged by the city's bankruptcy, arising as it did after the city received its discharge.
Round Two: Congress isn't through with Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf just yet. Following his pummeling before the Senate Banking Committee Tuesday, Stumpf has been asked to testify before the House Financial Services Committee next week on the bank's phony accounts scandal.
The New York Times' Gretchen Morgenson says Wells' recent behavior was no surprise to attorneys who battled the bank in mortgage foreclosure cases after the housing meltdown. "During the financial crisis,...
Bankruptcy courts have drawn the short mediation straw and are lagging behind:
–they don’t have a Federal rule of procedure for mediation.
Every other court in the bankruptcy-related court system has such a rule:
–The U.S. district courts have Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(c)(2) & 53 [as discussed in this article].
–The U.S. courts of appeals have Fed.R.App.P. 33 [as discussed in this article].
Appeals to BAP and District Court
Moreover, the U.S. district courts (in their bankruptcy-appeal capacity) and the bankruptcy appellate panels also have a Federal rule of procedure for mediation. And this Federal rule is contained in the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, no less!
It doesn't take a genius to figure out that incentive-based compensation like the type featured in Wells Fargo's current and previous consent orders has the potential to encourage fraud and steering of consumers into inappropriate products in order to make sales numbers. Here's the thing: there's little regulation of retail banking employee compensation. Instead, banks are relied upon to self-regulate, to have the good sense not to have unduly coercive incentive compensation and to have internal controls to catch the problems incentive compensation can create. But when a leading bank like Wells Fargo repeatedly fails to have good sense and to have sufficient internal controls, it suggests that it might be time for more directed regulation that will create clearer lines that facilitate compliance.
Over on Twitter, Michael Barr noticed that there's an eerie similarity between Wells Fargo employees team members being incentivized to open up unauthorized deposit and credit card accounts for consumers and another practice that got Wells in trouble in 2011, falsifying borrower income and employment information in order to sell debt consolidation, cash-out refinance mortgage loans at sub-prime rates (often to prime borrowers). Wells entered into an $85 million consent order with the Federal Reserve Board in July 2011 over these practices. (See summary here.) The consent order noted that it was Wells incentive-based compensation and minimum sales quotas that drove the employee fraud:
Debt struggles are a real problem for everybody – even people earning decent livings. A recent study indicates that a large percentage of people earning more than $100,000 annually have very little cash in their savings accounts.
The study was conducted by GoBankingRates, the major financial services website, and found that nearly half of individuals with annual incomes between $100,000 and $150,000 simply aren’t saving money for potential emergencies in the future. While most of these high-income earners have put away less than $1,000 in their savings accounts, approximately 18 percent of people earning six figures have zero dollars saved for the future.
Perhaps most surprisingly is the GoBankingRates study’s finding that almost 30 percent of people earning more than $150,000 each year have saved less than $1,000.