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California, Nevada join forces to target mortgage lenders

December 6, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
California and Nevada are joining forces to investigate the mortgage meltdown. Their top law enforcement officers have made it clear they're going after the biggest lenders.

The attorneys general of California and Nevada represent the two states hit worst by housing foreclosures. And the two top law enforcement officers in their states have teamed up to form a mortgage investigation alliance to help homeowners facing foreclosure. Many of those homeowners feel they've been defrauded.

"It is the work of expanding and accelerating our investigations in a way we can maximize the relief that must be brought to our states," said California Attorney General Kamala Harris.

"The alliance is designed to hold fraud perpetrators accountable and ensure law-abiding homeowners receive justice," said Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto.

One in every 243 California homes filed foreclosure in October; one in every 180 homes in Nevada did the same. There is a nationwide multi-state effort by other attorneys general to reach an agreement with lenders to settle possible lawsuits and allegations of fraud.

Harris took California out of those negotiations for a multi-state agreement with lenders for a settlement. She didn't think there was enough money in it for Californians.

Masto says Nevada is just monitoring the talks about a multi-state agreement, an agreement that reportedly has focused on a $25-billion settlement.

Harris says that doesn't go far enough in a state the size of California, let alone the United States as a whole, with its hundreds of millions of residents.

Harris says for her there's another significant issue.

"We need to know everything that happened or enough to be able to evaluate a settlement discussion in the way that's proportionate to the harm and proportionate wrongdoing caused our state," said Harris.

Harris won't be specific but it's clear from her remarks that California is targeting the big mortgage lenders. In fact subpoenas have already been issued. And it's clear that eventually a criminal response may be forthcoming.


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