SOURCE: SourceMedia

February 28, 2012 11:08 ET

American Banker Wins Three SABEW Awards

Sweeps Investigative Journalism Awards in Its Category

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - Feb 28, 2012) - American Banker has won three Society of American Business Editors and Writers' (SABEW) Best in Business awards, sweeping the investigative journalism award category for print publications with circulations under 25,000. Staff reporters Jeff Horwitz and Kate Berry, working individually and as a team, were responsible for the three SABEW honors.

"It's gratifying to see our editorial team recognized for its groundbreaking coverage," said Neil Weinberg, Editor in Chief of American Banker. "With our staff generating the most in-depth reporting anywhere on U.S. commercial banking, and our pervasive online reach, we look forward to further expanding our franchise as the leading source of industry news, analysis and opinion."

For their SABEW award-winning work on the close ties between former Federal Housing Administration chief David Stevens and the mortgage industry, Horwitz and Berry drew on extensive documents from the Department of Housing and Urban Development -- some the result of a Freedom of Information Act request. Among the findings: The FHA's often-touted increase in disciplinary actions against lenders amounted to little more than a change in how it recorded minor paperwork infractions.

Horwitz was separately recognized for an article that exposed billions of dollars worth of alleged self-dealing in an obscure area of the mortgage business: reinsurance policies on subprime mortgage loans. For this work, Horwitz drew on a previously undisclosed probe by the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Inspector General indicating lenders had wrongfully reaped $6 billion in revenues via "elaborate financial structures that had the appearance of reinsurance" but failed to meaningfully transfer risk to the banks.

Following publication of Horwitz's two stories on the topic, the newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) launched an industry-wide investigation of mortgage reinsurance kickbacks. The probe is the CFPB's first publicly disclosed investigation.

SABEW recognized Horwitz's work at American Banker for the second consecutive year, following his award in the same category in 2011 for his in‐depth look at conflicts of interest in the mortgage servicing industry.

Berry was also recognized for her August 2011 article "Robo-Signing Redux: Servicers Still Fabricating Foreclosure Documents." The story revealed that, many months after issues like "robo-signing" had come under intense government and public scrutiny, mortgage lenders were continuing to file backdated paperwork in foreclosure cases. Berry drew on court documents and extensive interviews to untangle the complex foreclosure process in a way that drew the attention of observers inside and outside the banking industry.

About American Banker

American Banker (www.AmericanBanker.com) is the banking industry's daily source of information, news and analysis covering national and global issues, mortgages, consumer finance, legislation, investment products, card and payment systems and technology.

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