Prominent Australian actor and international award winning filmmaker Matt Norman tells the story of his battle to save the family home from the clutches of the National Australia Bank.
NATIONAL AUSTRALIA BANK vs. SOCIETY
I was recently invited to write my story exclusively for Independent Australia, which to me was a great honour. The first thing I could have done was tell you my story by starting with rage, ending in threats and on the way losing the attention of readers by sounding like someone who is desperate. Instead, I will write something that is truthful, factual and as a clear celebration of my own Independent Australian voice.
I think it best I start at the beginning.
My name is Matt Norman. I am a proud international award winning filmmaker. My last film SALUTE, a full feature documentary about my Uncle Peter Norman, was number one at the Australian box office for an Aussie doco feature in 2008 and, finally, after nearly 4 years, will be released around the world before the London Olympics.
My story started like most who are dealing with any type of commitment to the arts. I made a film from nothing, got federal and state government funding to the tune of $2 million to finish the film, got ripped off blind by the system and then, when the financial bubble hit after the U.S financial meltdown, I literally got taken out in one very overwhelming blow. That has been difficult, but worse was to come.
During this horrible time, I also had a mortgage with the National Australia Bank. Like most people in this country, I just knew that I borrowed money and had to pay a certain amount off the money owed to eventually and hopefully own my own home. What I didn’t know was that my loan was sold so quickly to Wall Street that the ink hadn’t dried on the mortgage contract. In other words, I spent $100,000 as a deposit, supposedly got $395,000 from the National Australia bank in REAL MONEY that I then had to pay back — done, easy, simple … right?
In 2008, I started defaulting on my home loan and was racking up credit card debt, bills and other loans that I just couldn’t pay for. I was in a financial mess, but put a plan in place to get out of it. The first thing I did was contact my trusty bank manager to organise a “Financial Hardship” application. This seemed to be the best and most practical way for me to get out of financial hardship and back on track. The then Prime Minister Rudd made a statement that
“…anyone affected by the U.S financial crisis can and should apply for Financial Hardship, which gives up to 12 months of non-payments on mortgages.”
My wife and I thought this was the only possible answer, so we submitted our application.
Not long after our application went in, we received word that it had been rejected. A little confused, we contacted our bank manager at the NAB and he asked my wife and me to come in. We thought we may have filled out the application wrong, because at that stage we had debts (including the banks credit cards) totalling close to $700,000. I was attempting to sell my film SALUTE overseas so that I could get money coming in, but it seemed I was the only one. Those lovely people at our Federal Taxpayer industry funding institute known as Screen Australia, decided not to return my calls, when they literally took away what was known as a Producer Offset to pay themselves back, so that my then business partner could go make a Paul Hogan film and get more money from the Screen Australia mob. Obviously I wasn’t yet part of this exclusive boys club, so they did what they wanted and left me outside in the cold to raise my family without the financial commitment “I committed to”. I should mention that I put $252,500 of my own money into my film to get this Screen Australia Money.
Yes… I was in financial trouble!
Our bank manager politely told my wife and me that due to the fact that we had taken out a “Flexiplus Mortgage facility” that we didn’t qualify for Financial Hardship? The bank Manager went on to tell us that, literally, we didn’t have a home loan but a revolving line of credit with our home as security! This seemed a little odd to us, especially when we were talking about a MORTGAGE facility. Isn’t that a HOME LOAN? No, he said, so unfortunately you don’t qualify.
Then like a car salesman looking into the abyss for an answer, our bank manager said “Hang on, I have an idea!” He went on to tell us that if we wanted to save our home from repossession, we could utilise the NAB overdraft facility. It was like he was showing us a red Ferrari. It seemed like he was trying to help us get over this financial hurdle. My wife (of course) said “Another loan?”, to which he replied, “Technically it’s another loan that pays off the first loan to give you enough time to ride through your current position.”
With no other options and four young children to deal with, we thought it was the only choice we were given that would save our home from the same people who were now giving us a larger loan at double the interest rate to pay off the first loan. Even now, when I write that statement, I can’t believe how stupid I was to accept that as good enough — but it was sold to us under stress and duress, and we had no other choice but to hope that the months ahead would be more positive. We were then given $25,000 to put into our account at NAB — for NAB to draw off to pay our mortgage to the NAB.
The circle of life!
Not long after we needed another $20,000 to help pay bills and so on — so we were now up to $45,000 down.
In the coming weeks, we had a small bit of luck and received $27,000 back for tax from the $600,000 producer offset that I should have got from Screen Australia. We immediately put that on the overdraft to give us more freedom, knowing that we were only weeks away from signing a major deal in the U.S. for my film SALUTE. It looked like we were finally going to climb out of the massive hole we were in!
The deal got signed and then…nothing! No money, no commitment to dates or release — nothing at all. The film I had spent everything on was now sitting in limbo with an American distributor who, literally, had bigger films to look after. I should say that during the time SALUTE was sitting in limbo, we had the first black US President elected, the Olympic Games in China (one of the worst known civil human rights abuse countries in the world) and publicity for the film was booming, with several international awards being won by Salute all over the world.
Because we were again battling to stay afloat, we required the $27,000 we had given them to come back to us just to survive. They ended up giving us the original amount by topping up our second loan to $45,000 on the proviso that we only used it to pay off the house and had to pay it back in full within 12 weeks. Sure, if this is going to keep our family safe in our home. Of course.
The film, SALUTE, relates to my famous uncle who won a Silver medal at the Mexico City Olympics 200m in 1968 and during the medal ceremony stood side by side with his friends and fellow sprinters, American’s Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who gave the famous “Black Power Salute”.
So, obviously the first black President would have been the ultimate time to launch the film – missed – so the China Olympics again would have been the perfect time, but no — missed again.
Now we were stuck with a massive mortgage that we had to start paying again, we topped up our Overdraft to $45,000 again after paying off $27,000 and then the interest started building and building until we couldn’t do anything but default.
From this point we made several attempts to again be looked at for financial hardship — after realising the stupidity of allowing the bank to convince us that an overdraft was the only option. We had heated discussions with our bank manager at the NAB, who ended up moving to Tasmania; then we had to deal with a new manager, who played the sympathetic banker routine nicely — for the first 10 minutes.
We then had the fortune of another bank pre-approving a re-finance deal — one that would see us out of the NAB and onto a bank that would look after all our contracts and, moreover, was happy to look at the financial hardship case. The asset we had was our home and the film, so they were happy. It all came down to one single phone call to see how we were doing leading up to our default…
To our horror, the then bank manager at the NAB refused to give the bank manager at the other bank any of our details and said “I would not recommend them for another loan”. That’s it. The other bank, that we’d been honest to, told us that they didn’t think they could do the loan as the NAB wouldn’t tell them about our history prior to hardship. NAB trapped us into their loan and didn’t allow us to go elsewhere… I wonder why?
I again demanded that we get the Financial Hardship application going and if that meant we had to turn our Home loan into an official home loan (I know, how stupid is that sentence?!) then they should be obligated to do that knowing our financial position. We heard nothing!
Then, one fine day, we get our first default notice from Gadens Lawyers.
Blah, blah, blah… normal lawyer threats, and lies, and bullyboy tactics…
Finally, the Sheriff turns up and serves us with a repossession notice. I open the door to him and my four kids were behind me to see who it was. He was actually a really decent person, who respectfully listened. He gave me his card and let me know to call him if I had questions. To be honest, respect and empathy are the only real responses that most people find respectful. I did and I was certainly not needing to lash out at him for delivering the final blow.
I did what most people do in this situation and started speaking with lawyers. They couldn’t help – or wouldn’t! – because I had no money to pay them. So, off to legal aid and every other agency that I was required to contact. All of them said “No thanks!” They already knew that going up against the NAB was impossible. I even had one person tell me they saw another couple go up against the bank and the bank spent one hour lying to the judge in court and the court allowed it — before kicking the family to the kerb, without even hearing a single word in their defence.
Left to my own defenses, I represented myself. When you don’t have money, it’s your only option. So my research started. I filed my appearance and started reading everything and anything I could find on others in the same position. An entire world then opened up in front of my eyes. There were so many people out there that were getting no justice in the courts against the NAB. I found a great book called, ‘How to screw your bank’ written by an Australian who had consulted with Treasury, the Defence Force and others — and who’s opinion on “book entry accounting” leading to banks making money out of “thin air” seemed to be a good place to start.
THE BANK, THE COURTS AND THE FRAUD ALLOWED
In this section I want to explain the process that I have found through hundreds of hours of research, interviews, phone calls and emails. The technical aspect has become a lot clearer to me after so much research, but I won’t go too technical, as it’s easier to understand with a very straightforward approach.
Part 1: Securitisation
POOLING and SERVICING AGREEMENTS:
The first thing I needed to find out for my defence and counterclaim against the bank was “Has my mortgage been securitized?” The answer wass “Yes” — all the research I have done has led me to believe that my mortgage has indeed been securitized.
This is how it works.
When a loan is closed with your bank (signed), it quickly gets put into what’s known as a pooling and servicing agreement. This is registered with the U.S. SEC (the USA, because it’s heading for Wall Street and must go through an American channel). It gets registered as a REMIC (Real Estate Mortgage Investment Conduit), which is more commonly known as a SPV or Special Purpose Vehicle, for the purpose of tax exemption and other reasons.
Someone is then appointed as the master servicer of the REMIC, and obviously there is a trustee to manage the trust. Most people believe that the trustee of the trust has the power and responsibility to administer the assets of the trust — your mortgage is the asset with hundreds of others. The fact is, the Trustee does not have the power to manage the assets of the Trust.
Once the REMIC is formed, it then gets converted into a security that is finally traded on Wall Street. This starts Stage 2.
Stage 2: Changing of the state of the negotiable instrument.
What was once a home loan (mortgage), in which your bank – in my case the National Australia Bank – stated it has an interest (security over my loan), has now been sold to thousands of shareholders all over the world. Therefore, what was once called – in the terms of the NAB – “a loan” has now been changed and converted into what is known as “a stock”.
If your loan is now a stock then it must be known as a stock forever. What is done can never be undone — that’s how the stock market works.
The question then becomes a little clearer; once a loan has been securitized, it forever loses its security – the deed of trust – or the ability for the bank to foreclose on this security.
The loan is a negotiable instrument, which is governed as a negotiable instrument under the Uniform Commercial Code. Specifically, the right of a bank to enforce and foreclose on a property is subject to the claimant being a “real party in interest”.
If the loan then has been sold, as agreed, then the bank can no longer claim that they are a real party in interest as it has been converted into a stock — and, as we know, once a stock always a stock. If the loan and stock exist at the same time, then that would be “double dipping”, which would mean that the NAB would be guilty of securities fraud.
The negotiable instrument can only be in one of two states when it undergoes securitization. Not both at the same time. It can either be a loan, and treated as a loan, and governed as a loan — or a share, and treated as a share, and governed as a share. Once it’s traded as a stock, it is forever a stock. It is treated as a stock and regulated by the SEC as a stock.
One of the next issues you will find taking the bank to court is that they get default judgements very quickly. My case has just gone through the Supreme Court quicker than it takes me to wipe my bum with a razor blade. Summary Judgement was given to the National Australia bank because my case had “No possible chance of success”. Sheesh, I haven’t even been given my account to look over from the bank and already it’s labelled as NO POSSIBLE CHANCE OF SUCCESS.
So I appealed.
I want the bank to hand over to me a Securitisation Audit of my account. That way I am able to see exactly where my “loan” ended up. If it did end up on Wall Street – which it did, as I’ve had forensic investigators show me my loan on the American Stock market – then I’d also like the Bank to hand me the “original” deed of trust. I’d like to see if it states on this deed of trust, or mortgage, “This deed of trust secures a promissory note” or something similar. As, when the Promissory note is converted into a stock, that promissory note no longer exists.
If a trust was created to secure a promissory note, and the promissory note is destroyed — then that trust is invalid. The Trust then Secures nothing! As the Deed of Trust is what the bank says gives it the right to foreclose on my home, and that is invalid, then the NAB loses any right to foreclose on my home and, in fact, on any home.
All of this “behind the scenes” fraud is being done without me – the homeowner – knowing anything about it. In other words the NAB have taken $100,000 of my real money as a deposit, which on paper said they’ve given me $395,000 as a “loan” — without spending a single cent of their own money. They have then sold that piece of paper – my security – on the stock market and made a nice profit, raking in hundreds of thousands of dollars more in commissions. And then, to make this whole episode reek of the NAB’s upraised middle finger being shown in court — they are then secretly bailed out by the US Federal Reserve for a staggering US$4.5 billion that they didn’t even report to their own shareholders, who have all the time been led to believe that the NAB was doing great during the financial crisis.
So, I go to court and get the barrister who seems to be the one that is used by NAB a lot to corrupt judgements in court, who stands there and tells the Associate Judge that
“This is a common summary that the bank uses your honour and as I can show you [throwing down several cases in front of me] the judge has favored the bank in every single case, your honour”.
At this stage, I’m sitting there as Segal, the plaintiffs smiling terrorist, impregnates Associate Judge Lansdowne with a two hour rant about how much I must pay the bank.
In my statement, I claim fraud by the bank, and part of the Supreme Court Civil Procedure rules state that if fraud is claimed, then no summary judgement can be made. Instead of the Judge smacking the barrister behind the ear and telling him to finally shut up, she looks to me and says: “Do you have anything you’d like to add?” I reply “It’s fraud your honor”. Then, like a dove to a shotgun, she pulls out the Civil Procedure Act and passes it down to me, saying that the word “fraud” is not in the Civil Procedure Act. Which is correct — because instead it’s in the Court Rules.
“Is there anything else Mr Norman?”
I knew then that what I had just witnessed was the true reason why our country is more fucked than I had previously thought it was — I had just witnessed a corrupt court handing my balls to a bank that’s been getting away with criminal fraud forever.
I should also add that a National Australia Bank manager was sitting in court (as the only other person present) and smiling all the way through Segal’s two hour rant. I even went up and introduced myself to him, as I thought he was a lawyer. No, he was a bank manager who’s come to watch his puppy become a wolf. Boy, did Segal get a bone and a pat on the head that night as his master shuffled him out of court like the good dog he was.
My court experience was pretty easy. The bank was given hours on end to ramble, while I was allowed 13 minutes to attempt to get through a 54-page counterclaim, with the eyes of the judge rolling all the way through, since the decision had already been made before I’d even entered the room.
The experience was made so much more real when the plaintiff handed up to Associate Judge Lansdowne the orders — which she was half way through delivering. In other words, the orders were written by the plaintiff and handed up to the Judge as she was making her judgement. I couldn’t believe my eyes to find that our judges are that lazy, that when making judgement on a case they allow the plaintiff to write her decision. Wow!
Anyway, let’s call this chapter one.
I put in my appeal on Friday, which will be put online with all other documents to my case at www.thehumanracefilm.com for all to see. My appeal is just to allow me to actually have my rights to a fair trial heard. I just want the bank to answer my 54-page counter claim, give me a securitization audit on my account and answer the appeal questions. If they can do that without smiling or throwing up then they’re welcome to take my family home. If not, then my home will remain my home for the rest of my days as I refuse to allow a court to be corrupted by a billion dollar bully while my wife and children suffer.
For those of you to whom something like this has happened, and who would like to get in contact with me, I would love to hear from you. This entire ordeal is being made into a Michael Moore style documentary called ‘The Bank vs Me and the Magna Carta — A War on Greed’. I have already started interviewing others who have been fraudulently evicted and will make the NAB answer to all its customers and shareholders once and for all by bringing the story to a mass public.
Thanks for listening to my story. I’ll write the second part once the appeal is heard. It can only get better, surely?!
(Any legal opinions or financial advice given in this story are provided solely at the author’s discretion and are not necessarily advocated or endorsed by Independent Australia.)