The St. Clair County state’s attorney has filed suit against 22 banks for allegedly failing to record the sale of mortgages with the county.
Brendan Kelly alleges in the suit filed today that banks conspired to document those sales on a private network known as MERS, rather than at the county recorder's office in Belleville.
"Our whole system of recording that we have in the United States of America is based on this idea that who owns property should be transparently known," Kelly said. "Property is power, and our American system of government is based on not a lack of power, but making sure that power is transparent."
In addition to being difficult for the public to find, Kelly says research shows the MERS database is inaccurate as much as 30 percent of the time.
"You could have a homeowner that owes money and a foreclosure could be initiated if they’re late, and they don’t really know who they’re supposed to pay," he said. "There’s a whole bunch of scenarios in where that’s very, very important to know who could potentially take legal action against you."
Kelly says the suit is also about ensuring that all property owners pay the fees that are needed to fund the recorder’s office.
Defendants include large national operations like Wells Fargo and Bank of America, and smaller local institutions like Bank of Collinsville and Commerce Bank.