Hhhm, despite the breezy assurances of the American Securitization Forum that everything was handled properly when residential mortgage backed securitizations were created, the SEC does not seem completely convinced. Reuters reports it has expanded its ongoing probe into foreclosure practices (hat tip Lisa Epstein):
The Securities and Exchange Commission launched the new phase of its investigation by sending out a fresh round of subpoenas last week to big banks like Bank of America Corp, Citigroup Inc, JPMorgan Chase & Co, Goldman Sachs Group Inc and Wells Fargo & Co, the sources said.
The SEC’s subpoenas focus on the earliest stage of the mortgage securitization process, said the sources, who requested anonymity because the probe is not public.
The sources said the SEC is asking for information about the role of so-called “master servicers” — specialized firms that oversee the selection and maintenance of the large pool of home loans that go into every mortgage-backed bond.
In many cases, Wall Street banks that underwrite mortgage-backed securities either own their own master servicing firms or are closely aligned with one….
One of the sources said the SEC is seeking information about the role banks had in mortgage securitization. The regulator is also looking at the role trustees for the trusts that issued the mortgage-backed securities had in monitoring the performance of the underlying loans.
The SEC is looking at whether loans were properly transferred to the trusts that issued the securities, the source said.
This is a positive development, but we’ll know the authorities are really taking problems in this space seriously when they audit servicer software and processes to see how the apply borrower payments, levy charges, and deal with borrower questions and complaints about the accuracy of their payment record.