Investigative armada unleashed on sub-prime mortgage mess

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The news may spell economic doom and gloom, but seems there’s hardly been a better time to be a civil or criminal investigator. PaperTrail’s eye was caught by a new newsletter — “Global Fact Gathering” by the James Mintz Group, a private investigative firm — which maps out an “investigative armada” that has descended into the current sub prime-mortgage morass. There are FBI agents assigned to white collar crime, embattled SEC investigators, state auditors, forensic accountants, private investigators, all trying to try to sort out “alleged wrongdoing and conflicts of interest in the mortgage and financial industries.”

The economic tangle these investigators are trying to unravel (neatly laid out in the below graphic from the Mintz team) begins with appraisers (alleged to have inflated home values) and follows a path through mortgage lenders (alleged to have misrepresented the quality of their loans in SEC filings), with occasional pit stops at brokers and underwriters (along with more allegations), before ultimately landing on the welcome mats of eager homeowners across the country. And that’s only the left side of the chart; just wait until the investment banks and their ilk get involved.

Other investigative angles being pursued:

• Credit rating agencies that caved to pressure to issue top ratings to securities backed by shaky mortgages.

• Loan brokers and lenders who may have exaggerated borrowed income and overstated home values.

• Investment managers alleged to have “misled investors about the riskiness of their investments in sub prime-mortgage-related securities.”

With companies shedding jobs like crazy, now might be a good time to switch careers and become a civil or criminal investigator. It looks like a gig that will be in demand for quite a while.

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