Today's promised leaks of fraud at Bank of America? So far, it's all a snore
Wake up and good morning. It may not prove to be a good start of the week for Bank of America. Reuters reports that Anonymous, a hacker group sympathetic to WikiLeaks (that's WikiLeaks leader Julian Assange above in the WikiLeaks logo), today released on emails that it obtained from someone who said he is a former Bank of America Corp employee. In the emails dating from November 2010, people that appear to be employees of a Balboa Insurance, a former Bank of America insurance unit, discuss removing documents from loan files for a group of insured properties. Read the leaked Bank of America emails here.
While the emails and correspondence released by Anonymous do not indicate the reason behind the electronic record keeping discussion, a representative of Anonymous told Reuters on Sunday the documents relate to the issue of whether Bank of America has improperly foreclosed on homes. The representative added that he had not seen the documents, but he has been briefed on their contents. Consumer groups have accused major U.S. lenders of foreclosing on many homes without having proper documentation in place.
A BofA spokesman told Reuters on Sunday the documents were clerical and administrative documents stolen by a former Balboa Insurance employee, and were not related to foreclosures. "We are confident that his extravagant assertions are untrue," the spokesman told Reuters.
So.... what do we really have here? Not much yet. The Gawker web site reports Anonymous claims to be have emails and documents which prove "fraud" was committed by Bank of America employees, and the group says it'll release them on Monday. The Anonymous member, who goes by the Twitter handle OperationLeakS, has already posted an internal email from the ex-BofA-owned Balboa Insurance.
What we really want to know is whether all this early teasing is some warm-up act to the long promised WikiLeaks release of documents that are supposed to display some "Enron" level of fraud at Bank of America. The Charlotte Observer in BofA's hometown in North Carolina sheds little light yet.
In November, WikiLeaks chief Julian Assange told Forbes magazine he had internal documents belonging to a major bank (later presumed to be Bank of America) that would spur investigations and could reveal major fraud. But last month, Reuters reported that the "bombshell that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has said could 'take down a bank or two' may in fact be something of a dud."
So is this all much ado about nothing, or at least lower-level whining about foreclosure fraud that we already knows is rampant? All this noise in advance of any BofA leaks that may indeed prove damaging just muddies the waters.
-- Robert Trigaux, Business Columnist, St. Petersburg Times