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Inside Washington (01/18/2011)
* WASHINGTON (1/19/11)--Observers believe the Obama administration will offer guiding principles rather than a concrete restructuring plan for the future of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (American Banker Jan. 18). That belief is based on the Treasury Department’s continued silence on any proposal and the fact that the administration has twice postponed delivery of a plan for the government-sponsored enterprises. The deadline for release of the proposal is Jan. 31. Industry observers are split on whether a guiding-principle approach makes sense. Some say because Fannie and Freddie have been in conservatorship for two years, a concrete plan is needed. Also, any further delay would give Republication critics of the administration more ammunition. On the other hand, Republicans would rather see Fannie and Freddie abolished altogether than endorse any plan that preserves a government guarantee. For that reason, a plan that offers alternatives for preserving Freddie and Frannie would be a wise approach, some observers said … * WASHINGTON (1/19/11)--The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) has directed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to work on a joint initiative, in coordination with FHFA and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), to consider alternatives for future mortgage servicing structures and servicing compensation for their single-family mortgage loans. Currently, a servicer’s compensation is generally based on a minimum servicing fee that is part of the mortgage rate, which decreases the flexibility necessary for optimal servicing of non-performing loans from both the borrowers’ and guarantors’ perspectives. The joint initiative will consider alternatives to the traditional servicing compensation structure. The goals are to improve service for borrowers, reduce financial risk to servicers, and provide flexibility for guarantors to better manage non-performing loans, while promoting continued liquidity in the to be announced mortgage securities market. Alternatives for consideration may include a fee for service compensation structure for non-performing loans and reducing or eliminating the minimum mortgage servicing fee for performing loans, or other structures … * WASHINGTON (1/19/11)--Terry Jorde, recently retired president/CEO of CountryBank USA, Cando, N.D., has been named the chief of staff for the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA), effective April 1 (American Banker Jan. 18). She was chair of the ICBA in 2006, and has been on its executive committee for the past seven years … * WASHINGTON (1/19/11)--Amy Friend, chief counsel to the Senate Banking Committee for the past three years under its former chairman, Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), has joined Promontory Financial Group (American Banker Jan. 18). Friend helped write the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Act. Prior to serving on the Banking Committee, Friend worked for the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, where she was assistant chief counsel … * WASHINGTON (1/19/11)--The law firm Arent Fox LLC, Washington, D.C., has hired former senators Bob Bennett (R-Utah) and Byron Dorgan (D-N.C.). Bennett, who formerly served on the Banking Committee, was a Senate member since 1992. He lost in the 2010 election. Dorgan, who retired after the Senate’s last term, served 12 years in the House of Representatives and 18 years in the Senate … * WASHINGTON (1/19/11)--A 2010 annual report has been released by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). Within its pages, FinCEN noted a broadened and enhanced effort to partner with U.S. government agencies to combat home loan modification and foreclosure scams, and home equity conversion mortgage (reverse mortgage) scams that generally target the elderly. Also notable, FinCEN reported that fiscal year 2010 witnessed the largest ever civil money penalty that FinCEN has imposed: $110 million against Wachovia Bank, “which previously was one of the largest and most sophisticated banks in the world.” The annual report said, “A coordinated effort by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Division , and FinCEN determined, among other things, that Wachovia failed to effectively monitor for potential money laundering activity more than $420 billion in foreign financial transactions.”…


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