New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has reportedly been designated a co-chair of President Obama’s newly announced investigative team to probe the mortgage industry for past misconduct.
In his State of the Union address this week, Obama announced the creation of “a special unit of federal prosecutors and leading state attorneys general” to examine the “risky” lending practices that led to the financial crisis.
Formerly active in the settlement negotiations between the state attorneys general and the nation’s top servicers, Schneiderman was removed from a negotiating team in August after being accused of “undermining” negotiations.
For months leading up to his removal, Schneiderman had been outspoken about his opinion that a settlement should not preclude further investigation into the banks.
Schneiderman’s appointment to the new investigative unit comes amid a fresh wave of assurances that the banks and attorneys general are “very close” to reaching a settlement.
The new unit will take “a more coordinated effort to pull together all of the various strands of investigations relating to the conduct that created the mortgage-backed securities bubble and led to the market crash,” Schneiderman told reporters in Washington after an event at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, according to the LA Times.
As the industry and the economy stagger toward recovery, some believe digging into the past may not be the best way to move forward.
Ed Delgado, CEO of the Five Star Institute told the Wall Street Journal the new task force, which he called an “Untouchables unit, to go after the banks like Al Capone” may be intended as a preface to a deal between the banks and the state attorneys general.
On the other hand, the federal investigative team “could be completely unrelated and unconnected to, and therefore have no impact on, the existing settlement discussions,” says Jack Konyk, executive director of government affairs at Weiner Brodsky Sidman Kider PC.
Regardless of its impact on the settlement though, Konyk says, “Any such effort will do nothing to contribute to working our way out of the present problems facing our economy.”
“Continuing to look backward, while it may make for great campaign rhetoric, distracts from the vitally important work needed to restore strength to the housing and finance sectors, and thereby to the entire economy,” Konyk continued.
[Note: The Five Star Institute is the parent company of DSNews.com.]
This article is from DSNews.com: “Obama’s Investigative Unit: Absolving Iniquities or Slowing Progress?“