Kramer Law: Bank of America Accused of Burdening U.S. Regulators During the Foreclosure Review Process

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Kramer Kaslow: Philip Kramer weighs in on latest lawsuit concerning Bank of America's alleged misconduct in the area of home foreclosures

Kramer & Kaslow

Philip Kramer, lead attorney at the Law Offices of Kramer and Kaslow, released comments today regarding recent reports of a court filing against Bank of America Corp. ( Superior Court of the State of Arizona, State of Arizona v. Countrywide Financial Corporation et al, CV2010-033580). According to court documents, Bank of America is accused of unnecessarily burdening U.S. regulators who were reviewing the mortgage giant's foreclosure practices.

A Huffington Post article details how the Arizona suit is based, in part, on the findings of The Department of Housing and Urban Development Inspector General's Office, which conducted a review of the five largest mortgage servicers, including Bank of America, which is the biggest.

Departmental auditor William Nixon said Bank of America "significantly hindered" the review, according to a document filed in a lawsuit brought by the State of Arizona against the bank.

"Bank of America, the largest handler of home loans in the U.S., threw up roadblocks to the investigation,” Nixon said, like preventing his team from performing a "walkthrough" of the bank's documents unit.

“The bank withheld key documents and data, prevented investigators from interviewing bank employees or asking certain questions, and was slow to provide information,” according to a June 1 declaration by William W. Nixon, a fraud examiner and assistant regional inspector general for audit for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development inspector general's office.

"When interviews were permitted, the presence or involvement of the bank's attorneys limited the effectiveness of those interviews," Nixon said in the filing.

According to court document, the bank also failed to fully comply with subpoenas issued by Nixon's team. HUD's internal watchdog issued two subpoenas requesting documents and information, and what was returned was incomplete, had conflicting information, and in some cases, the bank provided excerpts of documents rather than the complete record.

Also alleged in the suit is that in one instance, Bank of America supplied only a third of what the watchdog requested. In another instance, Nixon's team waited three days for the bank to fulfill a request for "basic information." Though the document was requested on a Friday and given to investigators the following Monday, what the bank provided "prompted several additional questions that needed answering," Nixon said in court documents.

The Huffington Post reports that due to Bank of America's "reluctance," Nixon resorted to asking the Justice Department to issue so-called civil investigative demands last December to compel testimony, a "less effective" means of carrying out its investigation, Nixon said. His office can't compel testimony on its own.

Philip A. Kramer is a senior partner of the law firm Kramer & Kaslow which has filed consolidated plaintiff litigation suits on behalf of hundreds of homeowners against six major lenders, including Bank of America Corp.

“I don’t know if this is the final nail in the coffin,” Kramer states. “If nothing else, it looks like it is what Winston Churchill once characterized as ‘Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.’ My clients have repeatedly alleged this behavior, and no one paid attention. We have been screaming from the mountain tops that this has been going on, and no one wanted to listen. It’s a happy day when the government finally “gets” it.”

According to the Huffington Post article, Bank of America spokesman Dan Frahm said any suggestion that the bank had not fully cooperated was inaccurate. "We provided on-site and follow-up access to more than 55,000 pages of material and we voluntarily coordinated interviews and assisted with arranging depositions with two dozen employees," Frahm said in an email on Monday.

Philip Kramer is very familiar with the practice of “pretending to cooperate” as practiced by the banks. “They paper you to death with documents that are not relevant, while other more pertinent documents are not disclosed or are buried in a veritable blizzard of paperwork. They provide information, interviews and the like with parties who have little or nothing derogatory to declare about bank practices. Let’s just say it is unlikely they will ever deliberately put you in contact with a whistleblower.”

Philip Kramer believes in fighting the good fight. Rather than being put off by the efforts of Bank of America and others to obfuscate and delay, he sees their behavior as the last desperate attempts of the behemoths to hold off disclosure. “It’s not going to work,” says Kramer. “It never does.”

More of Philip Kramer’s observations can be found at the Law Offices of Kramer and Kaslow blog.

ABOUT PHILIP KRAMER
PHILIP A. KRAMER is the senior partner of the Law Office of Kramer & Kaslow, in Calabasas, California. Kramer & Kaslow is Martindale Hubbell “AV” rated. Mr. Kramer is a perennial recipient of the prestigious “Southern California Super Lawyer” award.

Mr. Kramer received his undergraduate degree from Ohio State University and his Juris Doctorate from the Catholic University of America, in Washington, DC. His practice emphasizes commercial litigation and trial advocacy, with a concentration on business litigation, and real property matters. He has prosecuted and defended cases for over twenty five years.

Mr. Kramer is a licensed real estate broker and has spent considerable time providing legal services in connection with real estate issues relating to loan modification and loss mitigation, land use and zoning, environmental issues, easements, construction and development, finance, and landlord tenant matters.

Mr. Kramer is admitted to practice before all courts in the State of California, the United States Supreme Court and the United States Court of Military Appeals. Mr. Kramer has tried in excess of 200 cases. He has appeared on nationally televised programs regarding pre-trial procedure and trial strategy and has appeared as a guest lecturer on topics ranging from constitutional law to trial practice, and Mr. Kramer frequently lectures on a broad spectrum of various legal and business issues.

Mr. Kramer also serves as a Judge Pro Tem for the Los Angeles Superior Court and as a Mediator.

Mr. Kramer is also a past president of the Los Angeles West Inns of Court, a national organization dedicated to bringing professionalism and civility back into the legal profession. He also serves on numerous Boards of Directors and serves as an officer in many companies. For more information call (818) 224-3900 or visit http://kramer-kaslow.com

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Stuart R. Simone, Esquire
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