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JPMorgan forks over $50M in 'robo-signing' pact with DOJ

usatoday.com | March 4, 2015

By Kaja Whitehouse

This story has been updated to reflect JPMorgan's statements, which take issue with the Justice Department's description of the improper bankruptcy filings as "robo-signing."

JP Morgan Chase has agreed to fork over $50 million for perjurious dealings in tens of thousands of mortgages in the aftermath of the mortgage crisis.

In a deal cut with the Department of Justice's Trustee Program, JPMorgan said it will pay more than $50 million to over 25,000 homeowners in the form of cash payments, mortgage loan credits and loan forgiveness, to settle the DOJ's "robo-signing" allegations.

Robo-signing occurs when mortgage servicers rubber-stamp mortgage foreclosure documents without properly reviewing them — in some cases resorting to forgery to move them along. Such activity came under the spotlight following the 2008 mortgage meltdown as banks found themselves overwhelmed with foreclosures.

Chase acknowledged more than 50,000 PCNs were improperly signed under penalty of perjury in bankruptcy courts around the country, according to the DOJ. In 25,000 cases, Chase filed documents in the names of former employees or of employees who had nothing to do with reviewing the accuracy of certain filings, the DOJ said.

Despite the agreement, JPMorgan took issue with the DOJ's description of the improper bankruptcy filings as robo-signing, saying that the filings were properly reviewed and that the problem rested in its electronic filing process.

"We do not think it is accurate to characterize as 'robo-signing' a process in which a bank employee reviewed the accuracy of the information in each PCN," a JPMorgan spokesman said in an e-mailed statement. "Here, bank employees reviewed the accuracy of the information in the 50,000 PCNs and the notices were accurate over 99% of the time. The issue was that the employees who reviewed the PCNs did not electronically sign and file the PCNs with the bankruptcy court, as required by the bankruptcy court electronic filing rules."

As part of the agreement, Chase will provide $22.4 million in credits and second lien forgiveness to about 400 homeowners who received inaccurate payment increase notices. Chase will also change internal operations and submit to oversight by an independent compliance reviewer, the DOJ said.

 

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