JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s EMC Mortgage, facing homeowner lawsuits over foreclosures, was sued by the trustee of a mortgage portfolio for refusing to turn over documents detailing the quality of loans bought by the trust.
Wells Fargo & Co., the trustee, is seeking access to files for more than 2,000 underlying mortgages in the Bear Stearns Mortgage Funding Trust 2007-AR2, according to the complaint filed today in Delaware Chancery Court in Wilmington.
“The trustee has repeatedly requested that EMC provide access to the subject documents,” Wells Fargo said in the complaint. “EMC has played proverbial ‘rope a dope’ and otherwise continued to drag its feet, and has produced nothing.”
Claims of wrongdoing by banks and loan servicers triggered a 50-state investigation last year into whether hundreds of thousands of foreclosures were properly documented as the housing market collapsed. Lending practices have also pitted mortgage-bond investors against banks over misrepresentations such as overstatements of borrowers’ income and inflated appraisals.
Christine Holevas, a spokeswoman for New York-based JPMorgan, declined to comment.
Wells Fargo said it needs access to the documents to answer “serious” questions raised by investors in the trust about whether EMC breached representations and warranties regarding the quality of option-adjustable rate mortgage loans the trust bought.
An investor in the trust, who owns 42 percent of the outstanding face amount of the portfolio’s certificates, questioned the condition of underlying loans, Wells Fargo said in the complaint, citing an August letter it received from David Grais, the investor’s attorney.
Grais, a partner at New York-based Grais & Ellsworth LLP, represents the federal Home Loan Banks of Seattle and San Francisco and Charles Schwab Corp. in litigation seeking to force banks including Bank of America Corp. and JPMorgan to repurchase mortgage-backed securities because they allegedly misrepresented the quality of the loans.
In a September interview, Grais said he was also working with two hedge funds that hadn’t filed suits and had contacted trustees with similar complaints. He wouldn’t name the funds.
In the Aug. 31, 2010, letter to San Francisco-based Wells Fargo, Grais said he had investigated 1,317 of the loans held by the trust and determined that EMC appeared to have violated its representations with respect to 938 loans, according to the complaint.
Grais didn’t immediately return a phone call today seeking comment on the complaint.
Wells Fargo began requesting the documents in January last year and reached an agreement with EMC in December on access to files for 400 loans. EMC had until Jan. 12 to produce documents on the first 100 loans, according to the complaint.
EMC failed to produce the documents “culminating more than a year of good-faith negotiations and misplaced patience by the trustee in a futile attempt to avoid litigation,” Wells Fargo said in the complaint.
The case is Bear Stearns Mortgage Funding Trust 2007-AR2 by Wells Fargo Bank N.A. as Trustee v. EMC Mortgage Corp., CA6132, Delaware Chancery Court (Wilmington)
To contact the reporter on this story: Sophia Pearson in Wilmington, Delaware, at email@example.com.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: David E. Rovella at firstname.lastname@example.org.