* Allonhill suspended for conflict of interest, OCC says
* Foreclosure reviews are part of April 2011 settlement
* Allonhill says it is disappointed by OCC decision
By Dave Clarke
WASHINGTON, May 11 (Reuters) - Conflict of interest concerns have caused banking regulators to dismiss a consulting group helping U.S. banks review mortgage loan files to determine the scope of foreclosure abuses, the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) announced on Friday.
The OCC said Allonhill had been helping Aurora Bank FSB and Wells Fargo & Co review foreclosure files and has been told to cease doing so because it previously reviewed some of the same loans for an unidentified third party.
The OCC said it suspended Denver-based Allonhill “to ensure the independence of the loan review process going forward.”
In April 2011, banking regulators reached a deal with 14 banks on the steps they have to take to clean up how they deal with struggling homeowners.
As part of the deal, the servicers are required to hire independent consultants to review their loan files from 2009 and 2010 to determine if any laws or regulations were violated during the foreclosure process.
Allonhill said in a statement that it was disappointed with the OCC’s decision.
“At Allonhill, we have always been committed to the highest levels of integrity and transparency,” the housing-focused consultancy said in a statement. “While we have the utmost regard for the objectives of the Independent Foreclosure Review process and its positive impact on the mortgage industry, we are profoundly disappointed by the OCC’s decision.”
Allonhill was the primary consultant for Aurora Bank. Promontory Financial Group is filling that role for Wells Fargo and Allonhill served as a subcontractor on that project.
“We do not anticipate that the OCC’s decision regarding Allonhill’s role in the IFR process will have any impact on our continuing work to comply with the consent order,” Wells Fargo said in a statement.
Aurora Bank did not respond to a request for comment.
Some Democrats in Congress and consumer groups have questioned the use of independent consultants to do the foreclosure reviews because the focus of their business is working with the banking industry.
The OCC has said that, while the banks pay the consultants, they answer to the regulators and their work is closely monitored.