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SIGTARP Offers Recommendations for HAMP

In its quarterly report to congress Wednesday, the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP) outlined its role as law enforcer for TARP recipients and as adviser to the Treasury. SIGTARP highlighted and reiterated a few of its previous recommendations, including increasing incentives for homeowners in the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) and more broadly exercising the authority to appoint directors at TARP recipient banks.

"TARP-related crimes (as well as civil fraud) leave many victims in their wake and have a dangerous ripple effect, hurting those beyond the immediate victims (homeowners and investors), such as taxpayers who funded the bailout, local communities, and our broader economy," SIGTARP stated in its report to congress.

With stated goals of seeking corporate and individual accountability, SIGTARP has sought both settlements and prosecutions with banks and individual executives, including criminal charges against 188 individuals.

So far, 129 bank officers have been convicted, and 94 are permanently barred from holding positions in the banking or financial industry.

In addition to pursuing criminal investigations, SIGTARP has made 130 recommendations to congress and the Treasury in its quarterly reports and audits.

One such recommendation is to increase annual incentive payments to homeowners participating in HAMP. After previously expressing concerns about HAMP redefaults, SIGTARP said in Wednesday's report that it "remains concerned that the level of redefaults has increased at an alarming rate."

SIGTARP believes the solution lies in incentive payments to homeowners.

Additionally, SIGTARP pointed out that "[e]ven though Treasury recognized the value of having Treasury-selected directors at TARP banks that had missed multiple TARP dividend payments, Treasury had rarely exercised and actually appeared to be abandoning its efforts to enforce that right."

In September 2013, when SIGTARP first called this issue to attention, it reported that of the 132 banks that had missed enough dividend payments for Treasury to appoint a director, the Treasury had only opted to do so at 15.

SIGTARP has also made efforts to inform the public of HAMP fraud schemes and to encourage homeowner education.

About Author: Krista Franks Brock

Krista Franks Brock is a professional writer and editor who has covered the mortgage banking and default servicing sectors since 2011. Previously, she served as managing editor of DS News and Southern Distinction, a regional lifestyle publication. Her work has appeared in a variety of print and online publications, including Consumers Digest, Dallas Style and Design, DS News and DSNews.com, MReport and theMReport.com. She holds degrees in journalism and art from the University of Georgia.

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