Bank of America is making it difficult to investigate or prosecutethem for fraudulent practices. Arizona's Attorney General, while conducting follow-up interviews on borrower complaints was made aware that the bank was quietly working to modify questionable loans, and requiring homeowners to sign non-disclosure agreements in return.
Bank of America Corp. is impeding an investigation of its loan modification practices by negotiating settlements with borrowers who must agree to keep them secret and not criticize the bank in exchange for cash payments and loan relief, Arizona officials say.
The Arizona Attorney General’s office is asking a court to block those aspects of the settlements and require the bank to turn over all the agreements. The bank denies any wrongdoing.
One 2011 accord involving a borrower facing foreclosure who defaulted on a $253,142 mortgage included a $5,000 payment, plus $7,500 for legal fees, and the defaulted payments were waived and the loan was modified to a 40-year term with a 2 percent interest rate, court documents show. The terms of the original loan and the borrower’s complaint about the lender weren’t described in the documents.
The borrower “will remove and delete any online statements regarding this dispute, including, without limitation, postings on Facebook, Twitter and similar websites,” and not make any statements “that defame, disparage or in any way criticize” the bank’s reputation, practices or conduct, according to documents filed in state court in Phoenix. The borrower’s name and address were redacted.
A spokesman for Wells Fargo, the largest mortgage lender, said that bank also has a similar practice that also requires "a confidentiality and/or a non-disparagement agreement as part of the settlement.”
A state judge has been asked to order Bank of America to notify those who signed confidentiality and non-disparagement provisions that they do not need to abide by them when speaking to the Attorney General.
The case is Arizona v. Countrywide Financial Corp. CV2010-033580, Arizona Superior Court, Maricopa County (Phoenix).