shareholder votes

Why your shareholder vote may not count

December 1, 2010: 2:13 PM ET

Because of poor record keeping and a lack of regulatory oversight today, your vote, as a shareholder, may not be counted.

By Eleanor Bloxham, contributor

The alarm bells regarding the abusive back office processes of mortgage servicers were ringing back in 2007, but they mainly fell on deaf ears.

Legal scholar Katherine Porter's 2007 review of 1,700 cases in Misbehavior and Mistake in Bankruptcy Mortgage Claims concluded that "a majority of mortgage claims lack the required documentation necessary to establish a valid debt", fees are charged that "do not appear to be legally permissible", and that "the bankruptcy system routinely processes mortgage claims that cannot be validated and are not, in fact, lawful."

And state regulators sought federal regulatory assistance three years ago due to foreclosure issues they had uncovered at Bank of America (BAC) and JP Morgan (JPM). The regulators were ignored by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

Despite the warnings, it was not until people losing their homes in record numbers began to speak out that the issues really came into the spotlight, forcing banks to seriously review and own up to issues with their internal processes.

Now, silently, there is another back office issue brewing that may soon come to a head, this time at brokerage houses. While not as devastating as losing a home, the issue goes to the very heart of capitalism -- losing your shareholder vote. Because of poor record keeping and a lack of regulatory oversight today, your vote, as a shareholder, may not be counted. More

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