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Watchdogs Hit Trump Pick Over Mortgage Fraud - By jkukura - January 4, 2017 - SF Weekly
SF Weekly

Watchdogs Hit Trump Pick Over Mortgage Fraud

BasicGov / Flickr

One of the great mysteries of the subprime mortgage crisis of 2008 is why none of the bankers who engaged in fraud were ever sent to jail. Now that one of those bankers accused of fraud is being sent to head the United States Treasury, California consumer watchdog groups have seized on a newly released 2013 memo they say proves Treasury Secretary nominee Steve Mnuchin illegally foreclosed tens of thousands of California homes.

Donald Trump’s pick for Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has the unfortunate nickname “the king of foreclosures.” That’s because Mnuchin served as the CEO of Pasadena-based OneWest Bank, which foreclosed on 35,000 California homes between 2009 and 2012.

A newly leaked 2013 memo from the California Attorney General’s office, first published this week by The Intercept, found that OneWest Bank illegally backdated foreclosure notices. In some cases, they backdated the notices to dates before OneWest Bank was even in existence.

OneWest Bank also has the distinction of foreclosing a 90-year-old woman’s home because her mortgage check was 27 cents short.  

“How can the king of foreclosures, who has made his living off of the misery he personally caused on tens of thousands of families like mine, be considered Treasury Secretary?” OneWest foreclosure victim Peggy Mears said in a statement from the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment. “No one who oversaw the defrauding of thousands of homeowners should be allowed to serve watch over our country’s money as Treasury Secretary.”

The Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment and other watchdog groups are also calling on new California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to prosecute Mnuchin and OneWest Bank based on these new findings.

Former Attorney General Kamala Harris declined to prosecute Mnuchin or OneWest Bank when presented with these findings in 2013. She’ll have her chance again, as she’s now a California senator who will vote on Mnuchin’s confirmation as Treasury Secretary.