Transcript: California AG Kamala Harris’ statement on the joint mortgage investigation alliance
Transcript of press conference held on Dec. 6, 2011:
California Attorney General Kamala Harris:
“Welcome. I want to thank Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto from the great state of Nevada for being here for the announcement today of a joint investigation agreement between the state of California and the state of Nevada as it relates to misconduct and the resulting impact to these two western states.
“As many of us know, California and Nevada were probably the hardest hit states in the country. We have alternated between having the first city hardest hit in the country in the last month alone. In fact, last month, we switched when Las Vegas became number two and Stockton became number one hardest hit as a result of the foreclosure crisis in our state.
“In fact, the statistics tell us that 1 in every 243 housing units in the state of California has gone through the foreclosure process. Nevada, 1 in 180 housing units. I’ll leave it to General Masto to talk more about the impact there.
“What we know is that these homeowners want accountability and they want consequence. They deserve to have both.
“We also share in a focus and a concern that we deal with the reality of our two states as these western states, which have a lot in common. Beyond the fact of the impact to our state, we have in common the reality that we experienced these servicing and origination based on a lot of the same institutions, which targeted and focused on these two states. These two states realized an incredible amount of growth during the boom, and after that we experienced an incredible amount of loss. The homeowners of our states, in particular, experienced that loss.
“This action is about requiring accountability and consequence but also with a mind to the fact that our states also share in the fact that we are a predominantly non-judicial foreclosure states. So the process by which the homeowner will lose the home is a process that can take as short as nine months. It is a part of our focus in this joint investigation agreement to expedite and accelerate everything we are doing in terms of our investigations.
“What we also know is that the investigations and our actions relate not only to those institutions who committed wrongdoings that resulted in these facts but also the predators that have evolved around the distress and the crisis. Predators, who we are now in the process of prosecuting, such as lawyers and law firms, which have engaged in mass joinder suits, suggesting to homeowners who are in the process of foreclosure that they should pay thousands of dollars in order to receive relief through the process of suing the banks. We have seen other scams that have involved brokers and lawyers and others who are taking advantage of distressed homeowners, who are simply trying to do anything and everything they can possibly do to keep their home.
“The joint investigation agreement between the great state of California and the great state of Nevada is essentially a law enforcement agreement. It’s an agreement between two law enforcement agencies and the two chief elected law enforcement leaders of these two states. It is a matter of doing the work that involves sharing intelligence. It involves sharing witnesses and reports and conclusions and litigation strategy and subpoenas. It is the work of expanding and accelerating our investigations in a way we can maximize the relief that must be brought to our states and the homeowners of those states.
“The scope of the investigation then will involve, for California, the work of tasking our Mortgage Fraud Strike Force, which is a group of about 40 attorneys and investigators and auditors, to work with the staff – the lawyers and the investigators – in the Nevada Attorney General’s office to look at what we can do around basically a very broad mandate that we have given our Mortgage Fraud Strike Force and that is to investigate wrongdoing in each major area of the mortgage lending industry. That means continuing to investigate and look at all of the activities that were a part of the origination of subprime loans; the scams and frauds that, as we have discussed, basically were preying on borrowers and borrowers in distress. It is about considering and looking and continuing to look at the misconduct in the loan servicing and foreclosure practices and looking at the securitization of subprime loans into investment securities and, predominantly from our perspective in California, those that were sold to the state of California.
“So far, the collaboration has involved and the work that we’ve done in California and each of these states have done separately have resulted as of today receiving millions of pages of documents as a result of our investigations and our subpoenas that have been issued. It has involved mutual targets of interest and investigation and what we expect to do to accelerate those investigations in a way that will develop stronger evidence. It is about expansion of the probe of the misconducts associated with the mortgage crisis.
“As we have said all along in California, we have a duty, we believe, to conduct a full and fair investigation. It is necessary as a condition to securing relief, we believe. We believe also that there must be accountability and consequence for the conduct that was associated with this crisis. We also believe that there must be relief – meaningful relief – to those people who are currently in the process of foreclosure and many are also in the process of modification.
“Finally, and equally important, this must be about pursuit of reform – lasting reform – so that what has occurred will never happen again.
“I’m very proud to work with my colleague, Catherine Masto, the great Attorney General of the state of Nevada. This collaboration and this joint investigation agreement is the culmination of many conversations. In fact, she first approached me at my first meeting of the National Association of Attorneys General back in March in Washington, D.C. We started the conversation then and it has led to this today.”
- WhatTheFolly.com: California & Nevada join forces to fight mortgage fraud
- WhatTheFolly.com: Transcript of Nevada AG Catherine Masto’s statement on the joint mortgage investigation alliance
- WhatTheFolly.com: Transcript of the press conference Q&A on the California and Nevada joint mortgage investigation alliance
- California Attorney General’s Office: Press release: Attorneys General of California and Nevada announce mortgage investigation alliance
- California Attorney General’s Office: Video #1 of the press conference on Dec. 6, 2011
- California Attorney General’s Office: Video #2 of the press conference on Dec. 6, 2011
- Nevada Attorney General’s Office: Catherine Cortez Masto’s biography
- California Attorney General’s Office: Press release: Attorney General Kamala D. Harris announces arrests in nationwide $6 million loan modification scam