AFR Statement on OCC’s Obstruction of Foreclosure Solutions

DATE: February 17, 2011

CONTACT: John Carey at 202-466-1854

AFR Statement on OCC’s Obstruction of Foreclosure Solutions

Washington, DC – Americans for Financial Reform, a coalition of more than 250 national and state organizations working together for strong financial reform, issued the following statement today:

We are deeply disturbed, but not entirely surprised, to learn that the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) is opposing tough enforcement against illegal practices that are costing millions of families their homes.  The evidence of abuse and illegality by the industry at every stage in the mortgage, servicing, foreclosure, and modification process is staggering, and the impact of this abuse on individuals, communities, and the economy as a whole is devastating. But, as the American Banker reported, “the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency is concerned about taking overly harsh actions”.

The OCC over the last 10 plus years has a repeated record of standing in the way of efforts to protect the public interest, and standing up instead for its big bank ‘clients’.  Systemic failures by some of the country’s biggest banks occurred – and continue to occur – on the OCC’s watch.  Between 2000 and 2008 as the mortgage market grew wildly and abusive practices against homeowners proliferated the OCC took only two enforcement actions against banks around mortgage lending, despite strong evidence of abuses – and the two actions involved small Texas lenders. Even as the evidence of their abysmal and destructive record on servicing and foreclosures becomes ever more apparent, the OCC has continued to give ‘Outstanding’ grades for community reinvestment performance to all of the nation’s largest banks.

Restructuring unsustainable home loans is a win-win solution that will help families, help investors, boost the housing market, and create stimulus for the economy as a whole. Regulators have a tremendous opportunity, and responsibility, to make this work. But the OCC – with a temporary acting head at its helm – appears to be making this harder. The OCC must get out of the way of holding the big banks and servicers accountable. And the President must swiftly nominate – and the Senate confirm – a new Comptroller of the Currency to lead the agency in the public interest.