ALBANY, N.Y. New York's attorney general on Monday accused Wells Fargo (WFC) and Bank of America (BAC) of violating the terms of last year's national mortgage settlement by failing to process hundreds of refinancing requests promptly.
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has notified the national monitoring committee established to enforce the five-bank agreement, citing complaints of 210 prompt-processing violations by Wells Fargo and 129 by Bank of America. If the committee defers taking action, Schneiderman said he will sue for compliance.
Under the settlement, the banks are required to respond to mortgage modification requests within 30 days. Schneiderman said delays put homeowners further into debt from missed payments and penalties, pushing them closer to foreclosure.
Wells Fargo declined to immediately comment. Bank of America did not immediately reply to a request for comment Monday.
"The five mortgage services that signed the national mortgage settlement are legally required to take specific, rigorous and enforceable steps to protect homeowners,'' Schneiderman said. "Wells Fargo and Bank of America have flagrantly violated those obligations.''
The settlement with 49 states, the Justice Department and lenders including JPMorgan Chase (JPM), Citigroup (C) and Ally Financial (GOM) set servicing standards and provided up to $25 billion in financial relief to homeowners. The standards prohibit the lenders from pursuing foreclosure while negotiating a loan modification. They require the banks to acknowledge in writing a refinancing application within three business days, notify the borrower of any missing documents within five days and make a decision on a complete application within 30 days.
In February, the attorney general's office said 21,535 New York homeowners had received assistance, including $1.2 billion in principal reductions and refinancing that lowered interest rates on their mortgages from the five banks. However, the agency said Monday it has documented 339 violations against Wells Fargo and Bank of America since October following homeowner complaints.