By Karen Freifeld
NEW YORK, Sept 20 The mortgage task force formed
by President Barack Obama to probe misconduct that contributed
to the financial crisis will soon take legal action, New York
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said on Thursday.
Schneiderman, a co-chair of the task force, would not say
whether cases would be brought against individuals or financial
institutions. He also would not comment on whether criminal
charges would be filed.
But he said his office would take action and that he
expected his federal counterparts on the task force to do so as
"We'll see actions being taken sooner rather than later,"
said Schneiderman, speaking in an interview at his office in New
The Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities Working Group was
formed in January, to probe the pooling and sale of risky
mortgages in the runup to the 2008 financial crisis. Obama said
he was creating the group to "hold accountable those who broke
the law" and "help turn the page on an era of recklessness."
Schneiderman said he believes it is still necessary to go
after the "bad actors" to restore confidence in the financial
"It's important to convey the sense that no one is above the
law. There's a set of rules to which all will be held
accountable, including big players on Wall Street," Schneiderman
Schneiderman noted that only days earlier protesters had
gathered in a park nearby to mark the first anniversary of the
Occupy Wall Street movement [ID:nL1E8KH4Q1].
Last year, Schneiderman fought to limit the scope of a $25
billion settlement with major banks over foreclosure abuses. He
wanted authorities to retain the ability to probe misconduct in
the securitization of mortgages, the area now being investigated
by the task force.
The task force includes the Justice Department, the
Securities and Exchange Commission, the Department of Housing
and Urban Development and the Internal Revenue Service.
Schneiderman said the group, which has been criticized for
inaction, had taken a few months to staff up. He said he was
optimistic resources would continue to expand.
"History will show the working group acted pretty quickly
given the circumstances," he said. "The important thing is to
see results and then continued results ... (that) we don't just
have one or two cases and then this peters out."
Another law enforcement official involved with the task
force told Reuters on Wednesday that any action from the task
force was more likely to be civil than criminal.
In the interview on Thursday, Schneiderman said he could not
comment on whether there would be criminal charges.
When the group was formed, Attorney General Eric Holder
announced civil subpoenas had been sent to 11 financial
institutions. But little information has been made public since
(Reporting by Karen Freifeld; Additional reporting by Emily
Flitter; Editing by Eddie Evans, Gary Hill)
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Keywords: MORTGAGES TASKFORCE/
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