Single foreclosure bank deal still goal-US regulator

WASHINGTON, March 15 (Reuters) – U.S. federal and state authorities still hope to strike a single settlement with banks over alleged abuses of mortgage servicing and foreclosure practices, a top banking regulator said on Tuesday.

“We each have our own separate responsibilities and areas of jurisdiction, but to the extent possible we are trying to coordinate our actions,” John Walsh, acting head of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, said at an American Bankers Association conference. “Whether this is possible remains to be seen.”

On March 3 state attorneys general sent banks aspects of a proposed settlement endorsed by some federal agencies but not the OCC or the Federal Reserve, the main banking regulators involved in the discussions.

The 27-page document proposed changes to how the mortgage servicing industry operates and advocated reducing loan balances for struggling borrowers as a way to help them avoid foreclosure, a proposal banks have not supported in the past.

State and federal agencies are probing bank mortgage practices that burst into public view last year, including the use of “robo-signers” to sign hundreds of unread foreclosure documents a day.

Negotiations have focused on the top U.S. mortgage servicers, including Bank of America Corp (BAC.N), JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N), Citigroup Inc (C.N), Wells Fargo & Co (WFC.N) and Ally Financial.

State and federal authorities continue to negotiate over the key aspect of any settlement: What fine or penalty banks will have to pay.

At least some of the officials who endorsed the 27-page proposal sent out earlier this month have been pushing for a fine of about $20 billion, which would be used in part to help struggling homeowners.

Critics of the disjointed settlement negotiations, including a group of House of Representatives Republicans, have argued the early proposal is an abuse of power that could harm markets.

Read the full article here: UPDATE 1-Single foreclosure bank deal still goal-US regulator | Reuters.

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