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Inside Washington (04/21/2008)
* WASHINGTON (4/22/08)--Regulators are stepping up their scrutiny of loans, so much that the old term “performing nonperforming loans” has begun to creep up again. Performing nonperforming loans, or loans whose payments are made on time but could be troublesome in the future, are being flagged by banking regulators (American Banker April 21). Due to troubled market conditions, regulators--especially the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC)--are encouraging banks to be more proactive in accounting for their loans. Boston Private Financial Holdings Inc., which reported fourth-quarter losses, was required by the FDIC to build up reserves by $16 million. Lenders are not expected to be “lulled to sleep” just because they have interest reserves, noted Steve Fritts, FDIC associate director for risk management policy ... * WASHINGTON (4/22/08)--Several states continue to work on foreclosure prevention legislation--heightening financial institutions’ uncertainties regarding which laws they are required to follow. Generally, foreclosure and real estate laws are not pre-empted, unless the law affects a financial institution’s ability to receive payment on a debt (American Banker April 21). Maryland passed a foreclosure prevention measure requiring a five-month moratorium. It is unclear if Maryland’s law could be pre-empted by federal laws. Other states, such as New Jersey and Connecticut, are working on similar but tougher pending bills. Passage of state foreclosure laws will continue until federal legislation is passed, according to Gil Schwartz, a former Federal Reserve Board attorney. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Office of Thrift Supervision did not comment on the matter, but said in 2004 that they would preempt foreclosure laws if their provisions are hidden ... * WASHINGTON (4/22/08)--The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) expects to see more mortgage fraud cases in the months to come, said Robert Mueller, FBI director in a speech Thursday. The FBI is investigating more than 1,300 individual fraud matters, and has identified 19 corporate fraud matters related to the subprime lending crisis. “We are targeting accounting fraud, insider trading and deceptive sales practices,” Mueller said. “These investigations may lead to other instances of fraud, from investment banks and private equity firms to hedge funds” ...


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