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Crackdown on mortgage brokers in Australia, mergers in Russia, African development discussed at UN
Note: Below are cross-border articles, for example Australia is considering requiring the Federal registration of mortgage brokers, a step still not taken in the United States despite the U.S.'s predatory lending crisis. Also, two articles about merger approvals (like the Federal Reserve's approval today of Bank of America to buy LaSalle) -- antitrust waivers in Russia and Australia.

Here at the United Nations earlier today there was a "high level" meeting of officials of the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the IMF and the European Union, about development in Africa. I asked them about the role of fair lending and consumer protection, describing our emerging networking in this regard; their answers were evasive but not negative. And so, forward... -Matthew

Matthew Lee, Esq., Finance Watch
Board member, NCRC
Tel: 718-716-3540 - Email: and this

Copyright 2007 Nationwide News Pty Limited
All Rights Reserved
Weekend Australian

September 15, 2007 Saturday
All-round Country Edition


LENGTH: 514 words

HEADLINE: Call for national licensing system to end mortgage broking fraud

BYLINE: Anthony Klan, Mortgage brokers


THE Finance Brokers Association of Australia has called for an overhaul of laws pertaining to mortgage brokers in response to evidence of rampant fraud in the industry.

The association yesterday ramped up its calls for the implementation of a nationwide broker licensing system following the publication of a report that found 40,000 Australian households had been stung by ''predatory lending'' practices.

''We want a national licensing model so bad it hurts and that frightens the hell out of a lot of (unscrupulous brokers),'' association general manager Mauri Unwin said yesterday.

''We've had the states talking about it for the past 3.5 years but that's all they do, it's a talk-fest.''

According to real estate consumer advocate Denise Brailey, ''loan application fraud'' -- where brokers altered a borrower's stated income to secure a loan -- was a widespread problem in the industry.

''Over the last three years I have spoken with at least 50 people who have been struggling with their home loans and in each occasion have discovered their loan documents have been altered without their knowledge,'' Ms Brailey said.

Sydney engineer Boris Sharff, 48, is one of those borrowers to have allegedly fallen victim to loan application fraud.

Mr Sharff, who earns $70,000 a year, was encouraged by a planner to borrow against his house to buy a $410,000 Gold Coast investment property.

Struggling to make the loan repayments, Mr Sharff applied for his loan application form from his lender and found his statement of income had allegedly been altered to state he earned $200,000 a year.

''It really gets to me sometimes and I just keep blaming myself for doing these stupid things,'' Mr Sharff said.

''It's a lot of pressure but I'm trying to hold on.''

Mr Brailey said most borrowers were unaware they had been the victim of fraud until they obtained a copy of a loan application form from their lender.

According to a report by Fujitsu management consultants, at least 70,000 Australian households were in ''severe housing stress'', with more than half of them the victim of predatory lending practices.

Fujitsu managing consulting director Martin North said home brokers -- who were typically paid almost twice as much as their US and British counterparts to find borrowers -- were driving predatory lending practices in a bid to broker deals.

In addition to loan application fraud, predatory lending practices included charging excessively high loan-financing costs and placing pressure on clients tosign loans without proper explanation.

Mr Unwin agreed that predatory lending practices were wide-spread in the mortgage broking industry but said lenders alsobore responsibility for the problem.

South Australia was the only state that licensed brokers, while becoming a broker was easiest in the ACT, where prospective brokers were only required to pay a $1000 application fee.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission said it was pursuing court action against a Canberra mortgage broker accused of writing a $360,000 loan to a 20-year-old man who was unemployed, dyslexic and homeless.

LOAD-DATE: September 14, 2007

Copyright 2007 Nationwide News Pty Limited
All Rights Reserved
The Advertiser (Australia)

September 12, 2007 Wednesday
State Edition


LENGTH: 150 words

HEADLINE: ACCC approves banks' merger



ADELAIDE Bank's merger with Bendigo Bank has overcome its first regulatory hurdle, with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission saying it does not oppose the amalgamation.

''We examined the various market definitions and decided there would be no significant detriment to competition,'' ACCC public relations director Lin Enright said.

''The banks' activities generally did not overlap so we felt there was no problem.''

Adelaide Bank managing director Jamie McPhee yesterday welcomed the decision.

''This is good news and means that we can continue our plans to put the merger to a vote of Adelaide Bank shareholders some time in November.''

If passed by shareholders, the scheme must then be ratified by the Federal Court or the South Australian Supreme Court.

Federal Treasurer Peter Costello must also approve the merger, and will take advice from the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority.

LOAD-DATE: September 11, 2007

Copyright 2007 Interfax News Agency
All Rights Reserved
Czech Republic Business Newswire

September 10, 2007 Monday 7:19 PM MSK

LENGTH: 284 words

HEADLINE: Czech PPF gets Russian Anti-Monopoly Office's approval to acquire 100% stake in Nomos bank



Czech financial group PPF, which controls Russian Home Credit & Finance Bank (HCFB), received the Russian Anti-Monopoly Office's (FAS) approval to acquire a 100% stake in Moscow-based Nomos Bank, the Czech owner told Interfax Monday.

"PPF have obtained the approval from the Russian anti-monopoly office (FAS) to acquire a 100% stake in Nomos Bank," PPF spokesperson Andrej Bechtin told Interfax.

Talks between Nomos and PPF still continuing, Bechtin said.

"Both parties continue working together according to the agreed time schedule, in order to create a major universal private banking group in Russia," Bechtin said.

HCFB, the second largest consumer loan provider on the Russian market, is due to merge with Nomos, Russia's 16th largest bank, and form a new company with assets exceeding CZK 120 bln.

"[Nomos] knows the environment in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), but their business is not developed," PPF's sole owner, Petr Kellner, told the Czech business daily Hospodarske noviny (HN) in May.

"[We] have Home Credit in Ukraine and in Kazakhstan, and we have bought a bank in Belarus, which we expect to open at the end of the year," Kellner said.

Nomos, which focuses on low-risk corporate clients, reported a net profit of RUB 699 mln at end-2006 - an increase of 127% in the prior year period.

At end-2006, the Bank's IFRS assets were estimated at RUB 108.8 bln, while its equity amounted to roughly RUB 15.2 bln.

PPF, which controls largest Czech insurer Ceska pojistovna, signed a 49%-51% joint venture agreement with Italian insurance group Generali in April.

LOAD-DATE: September 11, 2007

ID: 41309
Author(s): NCRC - Matthew Lee
Publication date: 14/09/07

Created: 28/05/08. Last changed: 28/05/08.
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