A federal judge has signed off on the $25 billion foreclosure settlement also less affectionately known as U.S. v. Bank of America Corp. (BAC), 12-00361, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).
The settlement, meant to compensate homeowners improperly foreclosed upon and assist those still in distress, was announced in February and filed in court last month. Judge Rosemary Collyer approved the settlement on Wednesday. The signed agreement was entered in court and made public today, April 5, 2012.
The final order says that nothing in the consent judgment can constitute evidence against Ally Financial Inc., Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc., J.P. Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo; the five banks that agreed to the deal. Bottom line, they’re still not admitting fault. Surprise, surprise.
The court said the consent judgment would be deemed “final and non-appealable” if no party had submitted a challenge on the day it was entered in court. A less-than-24-hour appeal period hardly seems fair considering the deal is two years in the making, but if this settlement is the best they could come up with after two years of negotiations, I suppose the less delays, the better for those potentially affected. Assuming that no entity has the desire (or ability) to sufficiently refute the terms within the allotted timeframe, the settlement is considered a done deal. What’s next?
Citigroup said in a statement it has been taking calls from customers since March 1, 2012 for its program and has moved “a few hundred” cases into the pipeline to determine whether they qualify. “Assisting distressed homeowners remains CitiMortgage’s number one priority,” the bank said. A few hundred, huh? Well, that ought to make a dent in the 11.1 million distressed homeowners. Way to be proactive, CitiMortgage.
Still better than JP Morgan Chase according to Mira Tanna, a housing advocate in Orlando, Fla., who claims that two Chase employees who work directly with homeowners recently told her that they were not aware of the deal nor of their bank’s pledge to consider principal reduction for underwater borrowers. Thomas Kelly, a Chase spokesman, said in an email, “Chase continues to provide customer-facing employees with information and updates about the settlement and its impact.”
Bank reps should really stop allowing Disney to write their statements.
Again assuming there are no viable objections, a formal monitoring committee, headed by Joseph A. Smith Jr., the former North Carolina banking commissioner, will be appointed within 15 days. We’ll see how long after that the actual programs are implemented. Stay tuned.