“This case demonstrates that the notion that the bailed-out banks have somehow found God and have reformed their ways in the aftermath of the financial crisis is pure myth.”
~ Neil Barofsky, former special inspector general of the Troubled Asset Relief Program.
Maybe you have heard about this economic crisis that hit America and the world in 2008 VERY, VERY hard. You may not have heard about it…but in short – banks failed due to risky credit derivatives based on mostly faulty mortgage paperwork where banks and mortgage companies rated home mortgages AAA when they were really lemons. That was in 2008 and the world had a financial heart attack…and in case you’ve been living under a rock – the world economy is still in fragile condition in the ICU.
Fast forward to 2011. A VP of mortgage underwriting at Citigroup finds a whole host of bad loans and bad paperwork which it is her responsibility to protect the company from moving forward with. These mortgages would either be sold to investors through credit derivatives or INSURED by the U.S. taxpayer for meeting the regulations set forth by the Federal Housing Administration i.e. government mortgage insurance. Executives in Citigroup hid her reports and pressured her to fix it through illegal and unethical means. She decided to bring this to the attention of the Justice Department and won a huge lawsuit.
Bloomberg has the news HERE:
By 2006, the bank was buying mortgages from outside lenders with doctored tax forms, phony appraisals and missing signatures, she says. It was Hunt’s job to identify these defects, and she did, in regular reports to her bosses.
Executives buried her findings, Hunt says, before, during and after the financial crisis, and even into 2012.
In March 2011, more than two years after Citigroup took $45 billion in bailouts from the U.S. government and billions more from the Federal Reserve – more in total than any other U.S. bank – Jeffery Polkinghorne, an O’Fallon executive in charge of loan quality, asked Hunt and a colleague to stay in a conference room after a meeting.
The encounter with Polkinghorne was brief and tense, Hunt says. The number of loans classified as defective would have to fall, he told them, or it would be “your asses on the line.”
Instead, she took her employer to court — and won. In August 2011, five months after the meeting with Polkinghorne, Hunt sued Citigroup in Manhattan federal court, accusing its home-loan division of systematically violating U.S. mortgage regulations.
The U.S. Justice Department decided to join her suit in January. Citigroup didn’t dispute any of Hunt’s facts; it didn’t mount a defense in public or in court. On Feb. 15, 2012, the bank agreed to pay $158.3 million to the U.S. government to settle the case.
Hunt says it was clear what Polkinghorne was asking — and she wanted no part of it.
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