Mortgage Fraud Investigation Has a Coordinator, but Does It Have White House Support?
Without much fanfare, the Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities working group leaked the name of its “lead coordinator” to Politico this week—Matthew Stegman, an assistant US Attorney in California, will serve as essentially an executive director and coordinate the disparate parts of the multi-agency, multi-state investigation.
The coordinator job has been of high concern to many progressive activists; they see it as crucial for keeping a complex investigation focused and smoothing out conflicts between different agencies. There was an early push for Representative Brad Miller to fill that role, and he was interviewed but not selected—because, he believes, the RMBS working group was afraid of industry blowback.
So what to make of Stegman? Some progressive groups were pleased. “Matthew Stegman is a career prosecutor who has put white-collar criminals behind bars,” said Nish Suvarnakar, Campaign Manager for the Campaign for a Fair Settlement. “That’s encouraging, but Americans won’t be satisfied until the Wall Street bankers who initiated the foreclosure crisis are convicted for their crimes.”
Indeed, Stegman was already a member of a California-based mortgage fraud task force—though I’m not as certain his accomplishments there are necessarily exciting. I turned up a number of cases put forward by Stegman since being on the task force, but they are for fairly low-level fraud: for example, people who offered homeowners refinance loans that didn’t exist, and then forging the paperwork. There were not any prosecutions of major California financiers or banks, but rather investigations of mostly two-bit hucksters.