MBA’s Kempner out, replacement a doozy

By Reuters Staff
August 13, 2008

This is old news at this point, but since I’ve been on vacation (a few pics here), I thought I’d note it just the same.

A few days after we published our expose of Jonathan Kempner’s poor performance as CEO of the Mortgage Bankers Association, he announced his resignation. He was most likely on his way out already, but I got word from the inside that the timing may have been accelerated in order to save those concerned some embarrassment.

Last week the Washington Post published a piece noting that deal volume in the D.C. commercial real estate market has collapsed this year. With vacancy rates ticking up and more space coming online, rents are sure to decline as well. Taken together, these trends demonstrate the sheer stupidity of Kempner’s choice to “invest” MBA’s rainy-day assets in a building purchased at the top of the market.

It would be interesting to know what kind of exit package Kempner received. One source said it will be a year’s pay, or more than $1.0m.

Making the story more interesting is MBA’s choice to replace Kempner: John Courson.

According to a Washington Post article, Courson’s own mortgage firm went bust in early 2007. Cheryl Crispen, MBA’s spokeswoman, told the Post that Courson closed his company due to “a cash-flow and capital situation. . . . There was a lack of cash.”

Hmmmm. This makes him a good choice to run MBA? An organization facing its own cash crunch?

Not to mention his questionable ethics. Ten years ago, HUD caught him overcharging customers for credit reports. The settlement (a copy of which you can see here) cost him $85k. In the WaPo article, Crispen plays down the settlement: “lots of other mortgage lenders were accused of the same sort of thing…she said.” Indeed, in HUD’s press release announcing the settlements, the regulator noted there had been 38 of them.

And yet, the release highlighted only the five most egregious violators by name, including Courson’s firm, Central Pacific Mortgage.

Lastly, there’s commentary like this, from someone who once worked for Courson:

I was with…Central Pacific Mortgage, [until Courson] gave his entire company the Kiss-Off….After years of making millions…[he left] his entire company without their last pay check. Loyal hard working loan officers and support staff…were left penniless at the worst time in the history of the mortgage business.

I’m personally sitting on a judgment award issued by the Labor Commissioner of the Sate of California in the amount of $5,650.41 and when I attempted to collect on the judgment my correspondence was never replied to.

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