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Banks sued over foreclosures
Massachusetts sued five major banks Thursday over deceptive foreclosure practices such as the “robo-signing” of documents, potentially undermining negotiations between lenders and state prosecutors across the nation over the same issue.
The lawsuit names Bank of America Corp., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Wells Fargo & Co., Citigroup Inc. and GMAC. It was filed in Massachusetts by Attorney General Martha Coakley.
The lawsuit also names Mortgage Electronic Registration System Inc. and its parent company as defendants. The company, a mortgage registry database, has been accused of shoddy record-keeping in large numbers of foreclosure proceedings.
The complaint claims the banks violated Massachusetts law with “unlawful and deceptive” conduct in the foreclosure process, including unlawful foreclosures, false documentation, robo-signing and deceptive practices related to loan modifications.
In October 2010, major banks temporarily suspended foreclosures following revelations of fraudulent documents processed by banks. The talks between prosecutors and the banks have been designed to institute new guidelines for mortgage lending nationwide. It was anticipated to be the biggest overhaul of a single industry since the 1998 multistate tobacco settlement.
Mrs. Coakley said banks have had more than a year to “show accountability for this economic mess” and have failed to do so. “It’s taken too long,” she said.
Lawmakers give up taxpayer-financed vehicles
SACRAMENTO | California lawmakers are giving up a perk that had been unique among state legislators nationwide - taxpayer-subsidized vehicles.
The program ended Thursday after the state’s Citizens Compensation Commission voted in spring to do away with the benefit.
Lawmakers will now seek reimbursement for the number of miles they drive on official business, at a rate of 55 cents a mile.
The decision was prompted by California’s ongoing budget deficits and a series of stories by the Associated Press and other media.
The National Conference of State Legislatures says California was the only state that provided vehicles to its rank-and-file lawmakers for unlimited use.
By John R. Bolton
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