Tag Archives: whistleblower

COUNSELORS OF REAL ESTATE (CRE) 2015 CONVENTION

October 24, 2015 – Last week I attended the CRE 2015 Convention in Charlotte.  As usual, the conference had a number of prominent speakers discussing significant issues affecting real estate.

If you have not heard of the CRE, I encourage you to visit their web site at www.CRE.org.  Also, the 950+ members have tremendous experience in all facets of real estate.  You should consider contacting them for your more difficult real property challenges.

Below is a list of items I took away from the presentations.  I hope you find these of interest, also.

George R. Mann, CRE

The current immigration event in Europe should add about 1.5% to the European population

This immigration event should lower the average age of Europe – which is aging fast, just like the USA and other developed countries

25%-30% of population growth is due to immigration

Europe is considering lowering the quality of real estate construction – because it cannot afford quality! ((MANN – This supports my belief that the overall decline of our generations, starting with the Millennials and going forward, will result in a long-term decline in quality, intelligence, etc.))

In the USA, the median net worth of people under 35 years old is 8.5% lower than in 2000

In the USA, 15.5% of people under 35 years old work part-time – historically, that was 5.5%

Since 2008, the fastest growing countries by population have been Australia, New Zealand, and Israel

Germany has 80 million people and that will decline by 7 million over the next 50 years

Worldwide, 2.8 Billion (with a ‘B’!) people will move to the cities by the year 2050 !!!!!!!

Currently, there are 5.7 million job openings in the USA – the highest ever

WalMart operates under 65 different names in 28 countries

SuperCenters have replaced all but 650 of the original Discount Stores

There are now 656 Walmart Neighborhood Markets – approx. 40,000 square feet

16 ‘Expresses’ are being tested in North Carolina – approx. 15,000 square feet

Also, WalMart is testing grocery home shopping…you select and purchase your groceries online and then drive to the store and someone loads them in your car

WalMart remodels stores every 5 years

Meier remodels stores every 7-8 years

WalMart and Meier indicated stores cost $80-$130/sf to build.  But, values were around $20-$30/sf !!!  They were very clear that they know their actual costs and any associated leases have NOTHING to do with the value of real estate.  ((MANN – Now, when will appraisers doing bank appraisals start appraising drug stores, auto stores, national restaurants, and so on correctly!!!))

Big Box buildings are simply a tool to sell product; they are not a real estate investment

Development is way down for big box users – e.g. Target was building 150 stores per year in 2006….only 5-10 in 2015; Walgreens was building 500 stores per year in 2006….0 in 2015

Amazon has had a huge affect on retail development

Current retail development is in the 200,000 to 300,000 sf range and are power centers with smaller large tenants than say Lowe’s or Home Depot

PetSmart is now moving towards freestanding properties

Distribution Warehouse will continue to do well due to eCommerce

A sale/leaseback is a financing transaction; nothing to do with market rent as it was not put on the market

Above market leases do NOT increase real estate value ((MANN – Per above, when will appraisers doing bank appraisals realize that the portion of value due to above market rent has to be labeled as Intangible Value or Bond Value or some such name?  Of course, Banks need to be requesting such to make this clear themselves….I have only been doing that since the 1990’s!))

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That’s it for the conference.  Many people have asked me how to pronounce Qui Tam and what the heck it is.

I pronounce it like ‘Key’…so Key Tam.  I see some dictionaries spell the sounding out as Kee Tam or Kwee Tam.

Obviously, the best way to explain what it is is to visit Wikipedia and other sites that Google comes up with.  My attorney’s website also has some information – and, as you will see, they are likely the best Whistleblower Attorneys in the nation.  I will be glad to introduce you to them.  Just give me a yell.

http://www.quitam-lawyer.com/

Lastly, for those of you considering a Qui Tam case, please purchase The Whistleblower’s Handbook by Stephen Kohn.  Like everything on Earth, it is available on Amazon.  It answers every question you might have and provides invaluable instructions on what to do while still employed.

Til next time….

 

Many Thanks To All

October 15, 2015 – Since the announcement that I had a hand in making 5/3 Bank pay an $85MM fine, I have received over a 100 emails of support. First, I must thank all of my family and friends that sent emails and supported me over the past 7 years, and longer.

Also, a special thanks to my former staff that sent congratulations.  It was with your buy in of my program that we were able to receive a Best In Class in the Nation rating from bank examiners.  We could not have achieved that without everyone believing that things can be done 100% ethically with no caving in ever.

The emails I received had similar themes:

  • You are Da Mann!
  • Good for you for fighting the good fight, and that you were vindicated. I just can’t believe their shareholders didn’t take this a little more seriously.
  • Wow!  A resounding vindication and testament to your integrity.  Well done.  You are a man to admire.
  • Wow George!  Congratulations!! And BTW as a taxpayer thank you!
  • congrats george.  thanks for winning one for the good guys
  • Glad that you are finally able to get this out in the open and be vindicated.  They certainly picked on the wrong guy back in 2008 didn’t they?!
  • Your ethics and patience are admirable.
  • It warms my heart to see 5/3 hand over $$ for their many abuses.
  • Congrats Mr. Mann. Thanks for having the guts to step up and take a rip at a monster that is out of control.

I wonder how many emails of support 5/3 received?  LOL

I will write more over the next few months.  Nothing in the settlement requires my silence.  I went the route I did because I would never agree to be silent.  It was a long, tough route, but it was worth it.  Everyone deserves to know the full truth.

For now, I leave you with the song that got me thru many tough situations over the past 20+ years.  Give it a listen any time someone wants you to compromise your ethics.

Til next time….

I Won’t Back Down

Tom Petty

Well I won’t back down
No I won’t back down
You can stand me up at the gates of hell
But I won’t back down

No I’ll stand my ground, won’t be turned around
And I’ll keep this world from draggin me down
gonna stand my ground
… and I won’t back down

Hey baby, there ain’t no easy way out
(and I won’t back down…)
hey I will stand my ground
and I won’t back down

Well I know what’s right, I got just one life
in a world that keeps on pushin me around
but I’ll stand my ground
…and I won’t back down

Fifth Third Bank Settles False Claims Act Case for $84.9 Million

PHILADELPHIA, PA, October 6, 2015 — The United States Department of Justice announced today that Fifth Third Bank will pay approximately $85 million to the federal government to settle claims under the False Claims Act (“FCA”) relating to the Bank’s practices in connection with loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).  The settlement also resolves a whistleblower lawsuit filed by Kenney & McCafferty in June, 2011 in the Southern District of New York.

Kenney & McCafferty filed the whistleblower complaint on behalf of a former chief appraiser at the Bank, who alleged a broad range of commercial and residential mortgage violations, including fraudulent appraisal practices, which resulted in significant losses to the federal government. The lawsuit was filed under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act.  These provisions permit private parties to sue on behalf of the United States when they believe an individual or company has submitted false claims for government funds.

Fraud on the government’s mortgage programs has become a major source of False Claims Act recoveries in the wake of the mortgage crisis, and the Fifth Third settlement marks another significant victory for both the government and the taxpayers in this line of cases.  According to George Mann, the former Fifth Third employee who blew the whistle, “the culture of the Bank at that time emphasized profits over compliance with federal regulations.  This type of behavior is exactly what led to the financial crisis and, no matter what the outcome, I felt it was my responsibility to speak up and do the right thing.”

“We were fortunate to represent Mr. Mann in this case.  He is honest, ethical, and informed, and was willing to step forward under difficult circumstances,” said Kathryn Schilling, a whistleblower attorney at Kenney & McCafferty.  “Mr. Mann raised concerns about Fifth Third’s compliance issues internally, but no one listened to him.  He is thrilled that the government has recouped significant funds from Fifth Third to restore taxpayer dollars,” Ms. Schilling said.

Mr. Mann and his attorneys expressed great appreciation for the work of the Department of Justice, and the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, particularly Assistant US Attorneys Pierre Armand and Jaimie Nawaday.  Mr. Mann also thanked his family, friends, former colleagues who supported his compliance efforts at Fifth Third, his co-relator John Ferguson, and the law firm of Kenney & McCafferty.

For inquiries, please contact:

Kenney & McCafferty, P.C.

Kathryn Schilling

(215) 367-4333

kschilling@kenneymccafferty.com