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Mortgage Regulator Resigns

August 12th, 2008 by Mike Vasilinda

Moments before he was about to be fired, the states top mortgage regulator resigned. The office has been under fire for being slow to react to fraud and for licensing felons. As Mike Vasilinda tells us, new rules will also determine when someone with a criminal past can help broker mortgages.

As many as 4 thousand former felons may have been licensed to write mortgages in Florida. The office of Financial Regulation also failed to conduct required Federal background checks on applicants for more than 18 months.

Regulator Don Saxon arrived at a state Cabinet meeting with a detailed fix in hand.

For crimes we have designated as Class A crimes, the applicant will not be eligible for licensor, Saxon said. These crimes include all felonies involving an act of fraud.

The new plan was approved quickly.

A new type of leadership culture, Florida CFO Alex Sink said.

Then there was another motion: to fire Saxon for being asleep at the switch.

When the Governor seconded the motion. Saxon knew he was a gonner and resigned.

Ill go ahead and submit a letter to you today, indicating my desire to leave and go into other areas if you will, Saxon said.

The Governor and Cabinet also ordered auditors to spend the next 30 days taking a serious look at the office.

Saxon left quickly after the meeting, we followed him into an elevator, where he defended his office.

I Think youre going to find once the audit is complete that we were not having a systemic process of licensing people with criminal backgrounds, Saxon said.

After 33 years on the state payroll, the soon-to-be former regulator says he doesnt know what hell do next.

While the state Cabinet took action to limit who can write a mortgage, it may not have the legal authority to enforce all of the restrictions. The Governors attitude: Take us to court. In the meantime, those with felony convictions not related to financial crime will have to be crime free for at least 5 years before becoming a mortgage broker.

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