New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer said he has not prejudged mortgage lenders in his latest investigation to find out whether the country's...
New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer said he has not prejudged mortgage lenders in his latest investigation to find out whether the country’s largest providers of home loans discriminate against borrowers based on race, gender, income and other factors.
“I haven’t jumped to conclusions,” Spitzer told journalists last night at the annual conference of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers in Seattle.
Last week, several big mortgage lenders, including Wells Fargo, Washington Mutual, Bank of America and Citigroup, received letters from Spitzer’s office requesting information about their mortgage practices.
The letters went out after lenders began to disclose loan pricing along with borrowers’ race, gender and other data under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act.
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Spitzer, a crusader against corporate wrongdoing and a recently announced Democratic candidate for governor of New York, said his office does not “target” industries.
“We ask questions and pursue with open minds the issues that have been raised,” he said.
In the case of mortgage lenders, “we’re gathering information, and that is all.”
Spitzer has a knack for turning data gathering into publicly embarrassing, multimillion-dollar settlements with well-known companies.
He has successfully taken on the investment-banking industry for providing bogus analyses of public companies, and won settlements from the insurance industry, which he said last night is engaging in “gamesmanship the likes of which none of us understands.”
“We need a fundamental rewriting of insurance law,” he said. “The states have utterly failed in their regulation of the insurance sector.”
Spitzer’s office has pursued major players in the industry, from broker Marsh & McLennan to American International Group. AIG said late Sunday it would restate nearly five years of financial statements because of accounting errors, which were found after Spitzer’s office began investigating the insurer.
Last week, Spitzer sued Intermix Media, alleging the firm was a source of “spyware” and “adware” secretly installed on millions of home computers.
“If you talk to folks in the Internet world, they’ll tell you spam and spyware are two of the biggest threats to commerce,” he said last night.
Spitzer said he is running for governor because, after serving as New York’s attorney general since 1999, his intellectual creativity for that job is exhausted.
“It’s time to move on to a different challenge,” he said.
“I think New York has been the epicenter of the nation intellectually, economically. We are the port of destiny for immigrants across the world, and yet our economy and our government are suffering right now.”
Melissa Allison: 206-464-3312 or firstname.lastname@example.org