McGraw plans foreclosure settlement workshops

McGraw

MORGANTOWN -- Attorney General Darrell McGraw is organizing a workshop to administer funds recovered by last week's nationwide $25 billion settlement with five mortgage servicers. Federal officials and a group of state attorneys general brokered the deal over the course of months. It settled allegations that the companies undertook improper foreclosure practices like the robo-signing of foreclosure-related documents. Much of the settlement -- $18 billion -- is earmarked for California. McGraw says at least $33.8 million will be available to West Virginians. The workshop will travel the state, beginning Thursday in Morgantown. "With these Save Our Homes workshops, we have the opportunity to assist homeowners as we work toward a return to a stable housing and lending environment with rising homeownership," McGraw said. Thursday's workshop will be held at Morgantown High School at 6 p.m. Representatives from McGraw's Consumer Protection Division will discuss the types of homeowner relief available. Principal reduction, free refinancing for "underwater" but current homeowners, direct payments to those who have been foreclosed on and enhanced safeguards for military personnel are a part of the settlement. The banks that settled last week are Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Ally Financial and Bank of America. Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller led the probe. The multistate settlement, which would cover only those mortgages held by the five banks, is said to lower nearly one million homeowners' mortgages by about $20,000 and provide for payments of $1,800 to those harmed by the banks' lending practices. California had departed from the negotiations in September, when the estimated relief for the state was estimated at $4 billion. California Attorney General Kamala Harris, at the time, called the proposed deal "inadequate," and insisted on more relief for distressed homeowners, meaningful enforcement and the ability of state attorneys general to pursue investigations into misconduct. The deal does not grant any immunity from criminal offenses nor does it prevent homeowners or investors from pursuing individual, institutional or class action civil cases against the five banks. Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt did not have his state join the settlement. He said the probe started as an effort to correct certain practices but morphed into "an attempt by President Obama to establish an overarching regulatory scheme." Pruitt said the state reached its own settlement, worth $18.6 million.

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