WASHINGTON, July 1 (UPI) -- The monitor of a $25 billion settlement with five U.S. banks over foreclosure abuses said a lawsuit filed in Massachusetts had a clear connection.
"I don't think there's any question at all that the settlement was clearly intended to address allegations of the kind that are being made in the Massachusetts lawsuit," said Joseph Smith, who is charged with overseeing compliance with the $25 billion settlement the banks reached with 49 states in 2012.
The settlement resolved charges that the banks had deprived borrowers of due process as they attempted to race through a mountain of foreclosures that built up as part of the financial crisis of 2008 and the ensuing economic downturn.
The lawsuit filed in 2010 claims the Bank of America had deliberately derailed homeowner attempts at finding mortgage relief through modifications allowed by the Home Affordable Modification Program or HAMP, that was created as a federal responsive to the foreclosure crisis, The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer reported Monday.
Smith said he was paying attention to developments in the lawsuit, which took a turn in June when former BofA employees said in a statement that they were given incentives to reject mortgage modification applications.
"Delay was achieved using tactics including claiming that documents were incomplete or missing when they were not, or simply claiming the file was 'under review' when it was not," said loan underwriter William Wilson, who worked for BofA in Charlotte.
Wilson said the bank conducted an "blitz" on modification applications twice a month, canceling any application that was more than 60 days old.
The purge could wipe out 1,500 modification applications in one fell swoop, he said.
"We were instructed to delay and then push homeowners to accept an internal refinance so that Bank of America would profit," Wilson said.
Smith said the allegations in the lawsuit were "serious."
"We are taking a look at it," he told the Observer.