* Dozens of states meet deadline to join mortgage deal
* Many states won't comment about their participation
* Deal faces another setback after banks balk at NY suit
* California angling for more control over relief
By Aruna Viswanatha and Karen Freifeld
Feb 6 A proposed mortgage settlement in
the works for more than a year will move forward with more than
40 states joining the deal before a Monday deadline, Iowa
Attorney General Tom Miller said in a statement.
States had been given two weeks to assess a proposed
settlement, under which top U.S. banks would pay up to $25
billion in exchange for resolving civil government lawsuits
about misconduct in servicing home loans and pursuing faulty
"The sign-on deadline for the proposed joint state-federal
mortgage servicing settlement passed Monday with more than 40
states signing on. This enables us to move forward into the very
final stages of remaining work," Miller said.
"Federal and state officials, as well as representatives
from the banks, continue to address matters that they must
complete before finalizing any settlement," Miller added.
Officials had hoped to announce a final settlement as early
as this week. It is unclear if the Obama administration and a
group of states will move ahead with a smaller settlement if
holdouts continue to drag their feet.
Some states and activist groups have been concerned the
proposed deal would release banks from too many claims and does
not provide enough relief to homeowners.
California Attorney General Kamala Harris, whose
participation would grow the size of the settlement by some $6
billion to $8 billion, was not expected to issue any statement
on Monday, a person familiar with the matter said.
On Friday, Harris told Reuters she was "less concerned with
the timeline than the details" of the settlement.
A New York lawsuit filed on Friday against JPMorgan Chase
, Bank of America and Wells Fargo has
also become a stumbling block, according to a person briefed on
This person said on Monday that the banks are balking at a
lawsuit from New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman that
accuses them of fraud in their use of the electronic mortgage
The lawsuit is based on claims that were expected to be
resolved through the settlement.
The multi-state settlement talks are focusing on the three
banks named in Schneiderman's suit, as well as Citigroup
and Ally Financial.
Schneiderman has been a key opponent of the proposed
However, Schneiderman said Jan. 27 that the liability
releases in the draft settlement had become narrow enough so
that a full investigation by a new mortgage crisis unit that he
will help lead could move forward.
Jennifer Givner, press secretary for Schneiderman, declined
to comment on Monday.
Other states continued to weigh the details until the last
In a statement, Nevada Attorney General Catherine Masto said
her office is continuing to review the settlement and is
advocating for improvements to address Nevada-specific needs.
Masto sued Bank of America last year and accused it of
violating an earlier agreement meant to resolve mortgage-related
claims from its Countrywide unit, and lawyers for the office are
in discussions about what impact the settlement will have on the
lawsuit, people familiar with the matter said.
A spokeswoman for Attorney General Tom Horne of Arizona said
on Monday afternoon that Horne was still evaluating the
settlement and "may decide by the end of the day."
Even Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi who has been on the
committee negotiating the deal has not publicly committed to the
settlement. A spokeswoman said in a statement that Bondi
"remains involved in the settlement discussions in order to
reach the best resolution for Floridians and all Americans."
And a spokesman for the attorney general in Massachusetts,
Martha Coakley, who has been a critic of the proposed
settlement, said her office would not have a comment on Monday.
Coakley separately sued the same banks in December and
accused them of deceptive foreclosure practices, but she has not
ruled out joining the multi-state settlement.
Her office has been in discussions to carve out certain
foreclosure issues specific to her state, people familiar with
the matter have said.
In particular, Coakley does not want the settlement to allow
banks to avoid a look back at past foreclosures after
Massachusetts' highest court voided two home seizures saying the
banks failed to show they held the mortgages at the time they
California's Harris, too, has expressed state-specific
concerns that the relief provided in the settlement go to those
"most distressed" in her state, and has pressed for some
certainty that the relief is regionally proportionate, according
to people familiar with California's concerns.
The state has faced some of the worst foreclosure rates in
the country. One in every 31 housing units in California
received at least one foreclosure filing last year, according to
Meanwhile, U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary
Shaun Donovan has been pushing hard in recent weeks to close and
sell the deal.
He spoke to left-leaning bloggers in a conference call over
the weekend to convince them of the merits of the settlement.
Representatives of several other state attorneys general
either declined to comment or did not respond to requests for