Monday, February 08, 2010

MORE SATAN'S BANK PLEASE

"During a recent protest outside his Walnut Street bank headquarters, OneWest CEO Terry Laughlin came down with the bank's head of mortgage services for a little face time with borrowers," reported the Pasadena Star-News recently.

"The idea was to 'reach out' Laughlin said, and see what he could do or say to help them with their home loans - which they angrily - and frequently - complain have yet to be modified."

And for the newspaper, Laughlin's interview was an attempt to 'reach out,' to counter the boatload of really bad press OneWest, or as it is called here -- Satan's Favorite Bank in Pasadena -- has accumulated over the past few months,

Message to CEO: It's not gonna help.

Banksters are less popular than soiled toilet paper on the bottom of one's shoe. And rightly so. Nothing can change that. And this is a good thing, not bad at all.

Nevertheless, OneWest's CEO told the newspaper that the giant vulture capitalism bank was now a community-oriented southern California bank interested in depositors and making affordable loans. And the newspaper could but go along because to get interviews like this one, the interviewee has to know that the interviewer won't be anything but a lickspittle. That's how America works.

The newspaper explained:

As of December, the bank, which entered the Obama administration's Making Loan's Affordable Program in August, had permanently modified 1,226 loans under the program, with 23,012 in the pipeline as trial modifications. If you count the loans modified under the FDIC's control of IndyMac before the purchase, total permanent modifications come to 15,000 ...

But readers know OneWest has been mostly publicized for foreclosing on people around the country rather than modify home mortgages.

This was explained in our Satan's Bank post thusly:

[OneWest] uses government guarantees for distressed assets in its rescue to ensure a profit on forclosures. In essence, the US government uses taxpayer money indemnifying OneWest against loss on a distressed property it owns, indeed guaranteeing a certain good amount of profit on it. It is the very essence of vulture crony capitalism and its main purpose, socially, is profit for OneWest through capitalization of the very badness of its former self through the working over of subprime mortgage holders.

"The realities of the economy - unemployment, lack of income - are at odds with a key term of the government's loan-modification program: Borrowers who want better terms must be able to prove that their current monthly mortgage payment is more than 31 percent of their gross monthly income," OneWest's CEO told the Pasadena Star-News.

Dig the foreclosure news

DD dug into Google to find OenWest foreclosures nationwide during December and January.

It was at this time that negative publicity on OneWest reached something of a peak, forcing the company into a cosmetic measure. It said it would halt foreclosures during the holiday season.

If it did, it was hard to notice.

DD found OneWest foreclosures from Hawaii to Topeka to New Orleans and all the way to Vero Beach, Florida.

A Hawaii newspaper, for instance, noted OneWest owned at least 26 homes in that state. Meaning it had foreclosed on all of them.

DD found two OneWest foreclosures in Topeka -- one in mid-January, one about a week ago. And one in Boulder, Colorado, last mid-month.

On December 18, national publicity over a foreclosure in San Diego forced the company into p.r. defense.

"Just in time for Christmas, Brian Wofford has learned that his large family won’t be evicted from the house he mortgaged to the hilt after it was renovated for free five years ago on the ABC show 'Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,' reported the San Diego Union on December 18.

"Wofford, a widowed father of eight, is in default on his Encinitas house. He owes $770,000 after he refinanced several times and took out home-equity loans to get cash.

"He has been seeking a loan modification since 2007 and stopped making payments this year. The house was scheduled to be auctioned Dec. 14, but the Woffords received a last-minute reprieve from OneWest Bank after nationwide media coverage."

A week earlier, the New York Post ran a story on the opposite side of the country entitled: LI MOM: Bank Strung Us Out.

"A Long Island family battling runaway medical bills for their two special-needs pre-schoolers are, days before Christmas, in danger of losing their house to foreclosure after their bank offered - and then retracted - three mortgage-modification plans, the frantic mother claims," reported the newspaper.

The story continued:

Caryn Fleming, of Miller Place, said she and her police officer husband were at first overjoyed at the lower monthly payments under the modification offers - but were then shocked back into a real estate hell when their bank, OneWest, said they didn't qualify for any modification because they made too much money.

"They knew exactly how much we made from the beginning of the process because they gave us our mortgage five years ago," Fleming said.

OneWest, which last month made the news after a Suffolk judge ripped up a bank mortgage because of its deceptive, underhanded ways, was dealing with 111,674 mortgages that were 60 or more days delinquent as of Nov. 30, according to the Obama administration's Making Home Affordable program.

The bank has extended 35,315 trial modification plans but has concluded zero permanent modifications, the Treasury Department reported this week.

Because the Flemings made reduced payments for 18 months - as instructed by the bank - they have accrued $40,000-plus in arrears and are facing eviction. Fleming said she recently offered to start making full mortgage payments and to pay off the arrears next October - when her husband retires from the NYPD. OneWest rejected the couple's offer, she said.


The Post also ran a story in late November on a judge's reprimand of OneWest:

A Long Island couple is home free after an outraged judge gave them an amazing Thanksgiving present -- canceling their debt to ruthless bankers trying to toss them out on the street.

Suffolk Judge Jeffrey Spinner wiped out $525,000 in mortgage payments demanded by a California bank, blasting its "harsh, repugnant, shocking and repulsive" acts.

The bombshell decision leaves Diane Yano-Horoski and her husband, Greg Horoski, owing absolutely no money on their ranch house in East Patchogue.

Spinner pulled no punches as he smacked down the bankers at OneWest -- who took an $814.2 million federal bailout but have a record of coldbloodedly foreclosing on any homeowner owing money.

OneWest's conduct was "inequitable, unconscionable, vexatious and opprobrious," Spinner wrote.

He canceled the debt because the bank "must be appropriately sanctioned so as to deter it from imposing further mortifying abuse against [the couple]."

The bank is involved in a similar case in California, where it's trying to foreclose on an 89-year-old woman, despite two court orders telling it to stop.


Stung by the whip of bad reviews, OneWest announced it was turning to charitable giving at the beginning of the new year.

"With a seed of $10 million, OneWest Bank announced this week that it has created a nonprofit foundation to help develop the communities it serves," reported Monterey County Herald on January 2.

"The Pasadena-based bank, which took over failed IndyMac in March, established the foundation 'to actively invest' in priorities such as affordable housing, health care, education, financial literacy and rehabilitating underserved communities, foundation bank officials said.

" 'We are very committed to supporting the community in meaningful ways through our charitable efforts, including significant contributions from our employees in community service activities,' " foundation Chairman Steven Mnuchin said in a statement."

Community service. Affordable housing. Fine words.

"The bank has 72 retail branches in Southern California and total assets of $24 billion," one news story on OneWest informs.

Let's see.

10 million / 24 billion = 0.000416666667

In other words, the amount is the OneWest/Satan's Bank equivalent of pocket lint. Maybe less.

Alms, alms for the poor!

And it is much like Goldman Sachs announcing it was getting into philanthropy after its banksters started to become afraid of potential fallout due to widespread public perception that they're evil.

Everyday DD walks past OneWest, either on the way to Ralphs or down to Colorado for a bit of a stretch.

Now OneWest has some rubbish in its windows about being a 'neighborhood bank'.




Satan's Favorite Bank in Pasadena -- from the archives.




The new improved Dick Destiny blog is now here. Or until something else bad happens.

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