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OCC Tightens Restrictions on JPM, Wells Over Mortgage Servicing

National Mortgage News - Six banks including JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo have been placed under further business restrictions after the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency determined they had yet to fully meet regulatory orders related to the independent foreclosure review which began in 2011.

The agency said Wednesday that six out of nine banks that were still under orders from the foreclosure review process must now comply with additional business restrictions that limit new servicing contracts, acquisitions and outsourcing. The restrictions vary for each bank but the OCC banned promotions of senior officers in the mortgage servicing operations at all of the banks. The remaining four institutions cited by the OCC are HSBC Bank USA, Santander Bank, U.S. Bank and EverBank.

A top OCC official indicated during a conference call Wednesday that regulators' patience was running thin for those six banks, which face possible enforcement actions for not meeting the amended orders on time

"One way or another there will be additional action...the meter is still running relative to those six banks and the nature and severity of the additional action will be based on the length and severity of their continued non-compliance," said Morris Morgan, the OCC's deputy comptroller for large banks. "We expect their remediation time frame to be measured in months, not years here. And if institutions take longer than that, we wouldn't necessarily wait until completion either."

The OCC also terminated the orders of three other banks for meeting all of the requirements: Bank of America, Citibank and PNC, which complied in full with the order.

"Each of the three banks that have satisfied the requirements of the order, I would say, has completed a significant transformation of their operation," Morgan said.

The independent foreclosure review process started in 2011, but quickly became heavily criticized for being high cost and taking too long. The regulators amended it in 2013 so that most of banks had to immediately remediate borrowers rather than finish the review first. To date, more than $2.7 billion has been paid to roughly 3.2 million borrowers by the banks that were part of the agreements. About 90% of the total amount paid by banks has been distributed, the OCC said.

The orders also required an overhaul of all the servicing operations in which banks had to take action in more than 90 different areas, Morgan said.

"These consent orders are very broad in scope covering the entire mortgage servicing operation. There are also very specific requirements of the orders," he said. "Even the six banks getting amended orders have undertaken a significant volume of work and the results of where they are today puts them in a much stronger place. Obviously, we're not satisfied where they are at this point in time but that's why we're imposing business restrictions."

There were three other servicers that were part of the independent foreclosure review that were not tied to the most recent OCC announcement. Two are no longer in the business and the third, OneWest Bank, had completed the review and remediation in a separate process with the OCC. OneWest is in a pending merger with CIT Bank.

"Final determination of OneWest Bank's compliance with the corrective actions required in its April 2011 order is being considered in conjunction with its application to merge with CIT Bank, and separately from other banks that entered into IFR payment agreements in 2013," the OCC said in its press release.

The OCC also said that there are $280 million in checks sent to affected consumers which were not cashed. Those funds will be escheated by the end of the year so eligible borrowers and their heirs have the ability to claim it through their state's process instead.

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