U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan is reportedly trying to force New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman to accept a settlement of the nation's major servicers that would prohibit future state-level investigations and prosecution of potential mortgage banking improprieties. The New York Times, citing unnamed sources, reports that Donovan and "high-level Justice Department officials" have engaged in a "campaign" to get Schneiderman's unconditional acceptance of a settlement deal, which would require the state attorneys general to agree to not pursue additional litigation relating to servicing and securitization practices. Schneiderman - along with his counterparts in Delaware, Massachusetts and Nevada - has openly objected to this aspect of the proposed settlement.
"The attorney general remains concerned by any attempt at a global settlement that would shut down ongoing investigations of wrongdoing related to the mortgage crisis," said a Schneiderman spokesperson.
In an interview with the Times, Donovan sought to downplay the appearance of undue pressure on Schneiderman.
"Eric and I agree on a tremendous amount here," Donovan said. "The disagreement is around whether we should wait to settle and resolve the issues around the servicing practices for him - and potentially other attorneys general and other federal agencies - to complete investigations on the securitization side. He might argue that he has more leverage that way, but our view is we have the immediate opportunity to help a huge number of borrowers to stay in their homes, to help their neighborhoods and the housing market."
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