Three months after the Obama administration announced the formation of a special task force to investigate abuses in the residential-mortgage backed securities (RMBS) market, a community activist group has charged that this entity does not exist.
Mike Gecan and Arnie Graf, co-directors of the Metro Industrial Areas Foundation, used an opinion column in the New York Daily News to detail their inability to find any evidence that the administration's Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities Working Group is active.
‘Calls to the Justice Department's switchboard requesting to be connected with the working group produced the answer, 'I really don't know where to send you,'’ wrote Gecan and Graf. ‘After being transferred to the attorney general's office and asking for a phone number for the working group, the answer was, 'I'm not aware of one.'’
Gecan and Graf also recounted two conversations with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who was named co-chairman of the task force. According to Gecan and Graf, Schneiderman said that he has yet to be given a staff, office or telephone number to accommodate his work.
‘The new Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities Working Group was the sixth such entity formed since the start of the financial crisis in 2009,’ they continued. ‘The grand total of staff working for all of the previous five groups was one, according to a surprised Schneiderman. In Washington, where staffs grow like cherry blossoms, this is a remarkable occurrence.’
Gecan and Graf dismissed the working group as a ‘public relations coup for the White House and the banks. The media hailed the resolution for a few days and then turned their attention to other topics and controversies.’