Senate Democrats

Reid: Fraud Bill Will Protect Struggling Homeowners At A Time When They Need It Most

Washington, DC Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the following statement today on the floor of the U.S. Senate regarding the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act of 2009.  Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:   “Every day brings more bad news for American homeowners.  In Las Vegas alone, one in every 22 families received a foreclosure notice between January and March.  That’s seven times the national average.  All across the country, the numbers have skyrocketed since the beginning of the year.   “As foreclosures menace more and more hardworking homeowners, they become more desperate for help.  Unfortunately, schemers, swindlers and scam artists are all too happy to pounce.   “Just this morning, the Justice Department charged five people in Maryland with orchestrating a massive and complex mortgage-fraud scheme.  Their company cheated more than 1,000 people out of more than $70 million.   “This crime is one of the many reasons why this week we must pass the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act of 2009.    “This bill provides critical funding and new tools to let law enforcement prosecute and punish those responsible for the mortgage and corporate frauds that have hurt countless hardworking Americans and led to the worst financial crisis in decades.    “Passing this bill will be a crucial step toward deterring the type of financial fraud and illegal manipulation of markets that were the root cause of the current economic crisis.   “Law enforcement agencies charged with protecting the American people from financial fraud are chronically understaffed.  These agencies are in desperate need of personnel with specialized knowledge who can investigate and prosecute complicated money-laundering schemes, mortgage fraud and conspiracies to manipulate derivatives.   “The Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act will give the FBI, the Department of Justice and other federal agencies the resources to hire the experts they need to protect Americans’ investments.   “It will also close several legal loopholes that otherwise may allow individuals guilty of criminal conduct to evade prosecution.  Individuals who have engaged in corruption or deliberate criminal behavior should not be able to escape punishment on a technicality.    “This bill would update federal fraud statutes to include mortgage lending businesses that are not directly regulated or insured by the federal government.  Although these companies were responsible for nearly half the residential mortgage market before the economic collapse, they have remained largely unregulated.   “It would also protect the funds provided under the economic recovery plan and the Troubled Asset Relief Program, and swiftly prosecute and punish anyone who would attempt to misuse this money.   “Finally, this bill will strengthen the False Claims Act, one of the most important civil tools we have for rooting out fraud in government.   “In the last few months, we have taken strong steps to steer the American economy toward recovery.  But we must do more.  We must ensure that the money we are spending to get our economy back on track is used in the manner in which we intended.    “The American people are depending on us to act quickly to ensure that those whose criminal behavior caused the current financial crisis are brought to justice, and to ensure law enforcement has the tools and resources to deter such conduct in the future.    “We cannot allow con artists to cheat working families who play by the rules.  We cannot allow them to deceive those who make an honest living.  We cannot let them steal from someone who seeks nothing more than his fair share of the American dream.   “I urge my colleagues to support the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act of 2009 and protect struggling homeowners at the time they need it the most.”