NEWS AND ANALYSIS
REGULATORS AND 13 BANKS COMPLETE $9.3 BILLION DEAL FOR FORECLOSURE RELIEF
Federal banking regulators have reached a $9.3 billion pact with 13 major lenders to settle claims of foreclosure abuses like bungled loan modifications and flawed paperwork, the New York Times DealBook blog reported today. The settlement is made up of $3.6 billion in cash relief and $5.7 billion in relief to avert foreclosures. Under the deal, homeowners can receive up to $125,000 in cash relief. Despite the banner numbers in the settlement, consumer groups and a range of lawmakers have criticized it for not providing enough relief for aggrieved homeowners. The agreement formalizes the tentative deals that were reached in January between the mortgage servicing companies and the regulators from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Reserve. Read more.
FORECLOSURE SALES IN 2012 HIT LOWEST MARK IN FIVE YEARS
While 2012 had the fewest foreclosure-related sales of homes since 2007, RealtyTrac released figures today showing that levels remained far higher than before the bursting of the housing-market bubble, MarketWatch.com reported today. Almost 950,000 U.S. properties in some state of foreclosure or owned by a bank were sold in 2012, down 6 percent from the prior year, according to RealtyTrac, an online foreclosure marketplace. Despite the decline, these sales remain far above the pre-bubble-burst levels: There were about 46,000 foreclosure-related sales in 2005, according to RealtyTrac. Foreclosure-related sales made up about 21 percent of all U.S. residential sales last year, down from 23 percent in the prior year, but much greater than the roughly 1 percent of foreclosure sales in 2005. Meanwhile, properties sold as short sales rose 4 percent from the prior year. These short sales made up about 22 percent of all residential sales last year. Read more.
CFPB DECELERATES REVIEW OF CHECKING OVERDRAFT RULES
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), which last year began exploring whether to tighten rules on checking overdraft fees, has decided against quick action after hearing from smaller U.S. banks that rely on the revenue, Bloomberg News reported today. The bureau announced Feb. 22, 2012, that it was collecting data on overdraft practices and would complete the inquiry by the end of 2012. Nine large banks, including Bank of America Corp., U.S. Bancorp and Regions Financial Corp., are providing information. This month, CFPB director Richard Cordray said that no decisions have been made about possible new rules, adding that "over the next couple of years" the agency will continue to work on the matter. Camden Fine, president of the Independent Community Bankers of America, said revenue from overdraft fees represents 3 percent to 15 percent of total income for institutions in his association. In 2011, bank customers paid $31.6 billion in overdraft fees, down from $33.1 billion in 2010, according to Moebs Services, a research firm. About 15 million Americans overdraw their accounts 10 or more times a year, Moebs reported. Read more.
COMMENTARY: "TOO BIG TO FAIL" RULES HURTING "TOO SMALL TO COMPETE" BANKS
Almost five years have passed since governments in Europe, the U.K. and the U.S. used about $600 billion in capital to shore up banks during the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, and regulators are still trying to ensure that it never happens again, according to a Bloomberg News commentary today. "With all the debating going on, the financial market structure didn't change very much," Zhu Min, the International Monetary Fund's deputy managing director, said in January. Some say the industry's biggest banks should be forced to break up, including Sanford Weill and John Reed, who created New York-based Citigroup Inc. They have said that financial conglomerates could be more valuable and safer if split apart. So have former Merrill Lynch & Co. Chief Executive Officer David Komansky and former Morgan Stanley CEO Philip Purcell. Investors such as Joshua Siegel, founder and managing principal at New York-based StoneCastle Partners LLC, see bigger changes at the other end of the spectrum. Small banks will seek mergers because their management teams are aging and new regulations are too costly to bear, he says. JPMorgan's Jamie Dimon, a critic of regulations he views as unnecessary or excessive, has recently touted the benefits. He told Citigroup analysts this month that new rules will help banks such as JPMorgan, the largest in the U.S., win market share from smaller competitors, the analysts wrote in a report. Read more.
ANALYSIS: FOR SEC, A SETBACK IN BID FOR MORE TIME IN FRAUD CASES
The Supreme Court yesterday delivered a swift and decisive rejection of the Securities and Exchange Commission's argument that it should operate under a more forgiving statute of limitations in pursuing penalties in fraud cases, the New York Times DealBook blog reported yesterday. As a result of the decision, the agency will have to find a long-term solution to give itself more time to investigate cases. In Gabelli v. Securities and Exchange Commission, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote in the unanimous decision rejecting the SEC's argument that a federal statute that limits the government's authority to pursue civil penalties should commence when a fraud is discovered, not when it occurs. The SEC was hoping that the court would apply what is known as the "discovery rule." In 2010, the Supreme Court endorsed this rule in a private securities fraud class-action suit, Merck & Co. v. Reynolds, stating that "something different was needed in the case of fraud, where a defendant's deceptive conduct may prevent a plaintiff from even knowing that he or she has been defrauded." In the Gabelli case, the SEC filed fraud charges in 2008 against mutual fund manager Marc Gabelli and a colleague, Bruce Alpert, saying that they had violated the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 for permitting an investor to engage in market timing. In its complaint, the SEC sought civil monetary penalties based on market timing that it claimed had taken place from 1999 to 2002, which resulted in the preferred investor purportedly reaping significant profits while ordinary investors suffered large losses. Read more.
LATEST BLOOMBERG "BILL ON BANKRUPTCY" VIDEO: SECRET MADOFF AGREEMENT MAY HARM VICTIMS
Money stolen from victims of the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme is earmarked for someone who may have been an accomplice in the fraud, and the agreement is being kept secret by a federal district judge. That's the first item on the new video with Bloomberg Law's Lee Pacchia and Bloomberg News bankruptcy columnist Bill Rochelle. Click here to view.
DON’T MISS THE ABI LIVE WEBINAR ON APRIL 5 - "LEGACY LIABILITIES: DEALING WITH ENVIRONMENTAL, PENSION, UNION AND SIMILAR TYPES OF CLAIMS"
A panel of experts has been assembled for a webinar on April 5 from 1-2:15 p.m. ET to discuss environmental and pension liabilities, the statutory schemes under which these liabilities arise and the key players involved. Are non-monetary environmental claims dischargeable? Do post-petition expenditures for environmental cleanup constitute administrative expenses? When can an employer terminate a pension plan in bankruptcy, what is the process and what are the consequences? Learn the answer to these questions and more from the comfort of your own office. Special ABI member rate is available! Register here as this webinar is sure to sell out.
ABI'S ANNUAL SPRING MEETING: CONSUMER PROGRAMMING WITH CROSS-OVER APPEAL
With four session tracks looking at issues geared toward chapter 11 restructurings, financial advisors, professional development and consumer bankruptcy, a number of sessions at ABI's Annual Spring Meeting have cross-over appeal for both consumer and business practitioners. Sessions include:
• The Appellate Process: This distinguished panel will explore recent issues in appellate practice that are of interest to both consumer and business practitioners, including the ability to bypass intermediary appellate courts and take appeals directly to the circuit courts.
• Consumer Class Actions: This panel will explore the potential benefits and pitfalls of class actions by debtors/trustees against creditors in chapter 13 cases, which are highlighted by two recent decisions of the Fifth Circuit. Many of the issues discussed during this panel will be useful in business cases as well.
• The Individual Conundrum - Chapter 7, 11 or 13?: Deciding on the appropriate chapter for a high net worth individual contemplating a bankruptcy filing can be a daunting task. This panel will explore the considerations that guide the practitioner in advising individual clients in making this decision.
To register for the Annual Spring Meeting and to see the full schedule of program tracks and events, please click here.
MARK YOUR CALENDARS FOR APRIL 10 TO TAKE PART IN ABI’S LIVE WEBINAR "STUDENT LOANS: BANKRUPTCY MAY NOT HAVE THE ANSWERS – BUT DOES CONGRESS?"
Do not miss the "Student Loans: Bankruptcy May Not Have the Answers - But Does Congress?" webinar presented by ABI's Consumer Bankruptcy Committee on April 10 from noon-1:15 ET. ABI's panel of experts will provide an overview of the student loan industry, examine the numbers behind and causes of student loan debt, and discuss federal loan programs as well as federal consolidation and forgiveness programs. Faculty on the webinar includes:
- Prof. Daniel A. Austin of Northeastern University School of Law (Boston)
- Edward "Ted" M. King of Frost Brown Todd LLC (Louisville, Ky.)
- Craig Zimmerman of the Law Offices of Craig Zimmerman (Santa Ana, Calif.)
CLE credit will be available for the webinar. This webinar is sure to sell out; register now for the special ABI member rate of $75!
NEW BANKRUPTCY PROFESSIONALS: DON'T MISS THE NUTS AND BOLTS PROGRAM AT ABI'S ANNUAL SPRING MEETING! SPECIAL PRICING IF YOU ARE AN ASM REGISTRANT!
An outstanding faculty of judges and practitioners explains the fundamentals of bankruptcy in a one-day Nuts and Bolts program on April 18 being held in conjunction with ABI's Annual Spring Meeting. Ideal training for junior professionals or those new to this practice area!
The morning session covers concepts all bankruptcy practitioners need to know, and the afternoon session splits into concurrent tracks, focusing on consumer and business issues. The session will include written materials, practice tip sessions with bankruptcy judges, continental breakfast and a reception after the program. Click here to register!
LATEST CASE SUMMARY ON VOLO: CLINTON AVENUE CLO FUND LTD. V. BANK OF AMERICA, N.A. (11TH CIR.)
Summarized by Weston Eguchi of Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP
Affirming the district court's rulings, the Eleventh Circuit concluded that (A) the plaintiff term lenders lacked standing to enforce the defendant revolving lenders' promise to lend to borrowers under a credit agreement; and (B) summary judgment on the issue of whether the revolving lenders were required to fund under the credit agreement was inappropriate where the relevant contractual language was ambiguous such that consideration of extrinsic evidence of the parties' intent would be necessary.
There are more than 750 appellate opinions summarized on Volo, and summaries typically appear within 24 hours of the ruling. Click here regularly to view the latest case summaries on ABI’s Volo website.
NEW ON ABI’S BANKRUPTCY BLOG EXCHANGE: ASSIGNMENT OF RENTS: SIXTH CIRCUIT THROWS OUT DEBT-BUYER SETTLEMENT
The Bankruptcy Blog Exchange is a free ABI service that tracks 35 bankruptcy-related blogs. A new blog post reported that the Sixth Circuit recently threw out a nationwide settlement involving Midland, a robo-signing debt buyer, and more than a million consumers. This will allow other class and individual actions to proceed against Midland. The suit was thrown out for faulty notice to class members, who were not told in the settlement notice that they’d lose their individual fraud claims against Midland.
Be sure to check the site several times each day; any time a contributing blog posts a new story, a link to the story will appear on the top. If you have a blog that deals with bankruptcy, or know of a good blog that should be part of the Bankruptcy Exchange, please contact the ABI Web team.
ABI Quick Poll
As a result of the RadLAX decision, the right to credit-bid will likely chill bidding at auctions, as potential purchasers may be dissuaded from participating in the bidding process.
Click here to vote on this week's Quick Poll. Click here to view the results of previous Quick Polls.
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