Regulators sue Ocwen Financial, say it mishandled mortgages


But Ocwen has received complaints from more than 300,000 borrowers in the last two years, according to the CFPB.

In its most recent 10-K filing, New Residential said regulatory action against Ocwen "could increase our financing costs or operating expenses, reduce our revenues or otherwise materially adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and liquidity".

The letter comes as part of a multi-state investigation into Ocwen's handling of tax-and-insurance escrow accounts, including the alleged failure to make timely payments from the accounts and the improper withholding of money from borrowers. "However, Ocwen has consistently failed to correct deficient business practices that cause harm to borrowers", Ray Grace, North Carolina's Commissioner of Banks, said in a press release on Thursday.

Ocwen is one of the country's largest nonbank mortgage servicers, servicing nearly 1.4 million loans.

"Ocwen strongly disputes the CFPB's claim that Ocwen's mortgage loan servicing practices have caused substantial consumer harm", the company said. Mortgage servicers don't own the mortgage, but are in charge of collecting payments and making sure the accounts are credited correctly.

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"If I could change systems tomorrow I would", the Ocwen executive said.

Earlier this year, an Ocwen subsidiary, Ocwen Loan Servicing, signed a $225 million settlement with California regulators to settle allegations it overcharged active-duty military members, was late in providing key information for some civilian borrowers seeking to modify their loans and violated other laws.

In a statement, West Palm Beach, Florida-based Ocwen vowed to defend itself against the CFPB's "unfounded claims", saying it had cooperated fully with the bureau's inquiries and that the regulator was overreaching. According to the lawsuit, Ocwen's head of services called the company's technology "an absolute train wreck".

In a completely separate move, the state of North Carolina today slapped Ocwen with a cease-and-desist letter that will indefinitely prevent it from acquiring new mortgage servicing rights in the state, as well as originating mortgages that it plans to service.

In addition to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Florida, more than 20 state regulators took action against the company, limiting its operations in their states.

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Regulators said when consumers complained to Ocwen, the company routinely failed to acknowledge or investigate the grievances.

Ocwen did not immediately respond.

The CFPB says the lawsuit filed Thursday is for violations since that 2013 action.

Kate Berry covers the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for American Banker.

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