But the most telling contradiction of the banking regulators’ “nothing to see here” stance is the Administration’s aggressive pursuit of servicing abuses against active duty soldiers. When a Congressional hearing focused on how JP Morgan illegally foreclosed on soldiers, the bank went into overdrive to do damage control. As David Dayen reported:
The big bank went out of their way to fix the problem yesterday, knowing that abusing service members could get you in big trouble in this country, and lead to further scrutiny of their abusive practices. Calling these violations a “painful aberration” on a track record of honoring military families, JPM CEO Jamie Dimon announced:
• New pricing. Under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, servicers are required to cap mortgage interest rates for active duty personnel at 6%. JPM will lower that cap to 4%.
• Military modification program. JPM will go beyond HAMP requirements for all personnel who served on active duty going back to 9/11. If the borrower has a second lien with them, they will reduce the interest rate on it to 1%.
• No foreclosures. JPM will not foreclose on any active duty military personnel overseas. Anyone who was wrongly foreclosed upon previously will not only get their home back, but JPM will forgive all remaining home debt. They promise to do that in the future with any other wrongful foreclosure of a military family.
• Donations. JPM will donate 1,000 homes to military and veterans, through a non-profit partner, over the next five years.
• Jobs. They will commit to hiring 100,000 military and veterans over the next ten years. They will also offer a Technology Education certificate for veterans to take free to get technology training for future careers.
• Advisory Council. They’ll form an Advisory Council to determine other ways to help military families. They’re also opening a bunch of Homeownership Centers near military bases to assist families.
Needless to say, this is a PR gambit to the nth degree. But look how incredibly scared JPM is that anyone will look past the abuse of military families. They are going out of their way to burnish and repair their public image on this one, and the goal is to whitewash the fact that they were merely engaging in standard servicer practices of abusing homeowners and illegally foreclosing.
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