Econintersect: John C. Liu, New York City Comptroller, announced January 9 that a coalition of seven major public pension systems called on the boards of directors of Bank of America (NYSE: BAC), Citigroup (NYSE: C), JP Morgan Chase (NYSE:JPM), and Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC) to immediately undertake independent examinations of the banks’ mortgage and foreclosure practices.
The coalition represents more than $430 billion in pension fund investments, including $5.7 billion invested in the four banks. Follow up:
Follow up:The coalition is composed of five New York City Pension Funds, the Connecticut Retirement Plans and Trust Funds, the Illinois State Board of Investment, the Illinois State Universities Retirement System, the New York State Common Retirement Fund, the North Carolina Retirement Systems, and the Oregon Public Employees Retirement Fund.
The coalition of pension funds called for the banks’ Audit Committees to launch independent examinations of their loan modification, foreclosure, and securitization policies and procedures. “This will help to prevent future compliance failures and restore the confidence of shareholders, regulators, legislators and mortgage markets participants,” the coalition advised in its letter.
The coalition members’ insistence on immediate action reflects the urgency of their concerns over mishandled mortgages. In November, the New York City Pension Funds and Comptroller Liu made a similar request for bank boards to conduct independent policy reviews as part of a shareholder proposal to the banks’ annual meetings in the spring.
“The banks’ boards cannot continue to pretend the foreclosure mess is the result of technical glitches and paperwork errors,” Comptroller Liu said. “There is a fundamental problem in their procedures that endangers not just homeowners, but shareholders, and local economies. Given the risks involved, only a swift and unbiased audit can reassure shareholders that the pension funds of 700,000 working and retired New Yorkers are in safe hands. The boards of directors have no time to waste.”