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Charged with fraud

(AP) -- Three people face charges for their role in an alleged fraud scheme by using the Internet to target struggling homeowners in Northern California.

Ronald Cupp, 58, of Santa Rosa; Randall Heyden, 69, of San Rafael; and Angelle Wertz, 38, also of Santa Rosa, were arrested last week on 57 charges including theft, forgery, notary fraud and recording of false documents, Attorney General Kamala Harris announced on Monday.

The three are accused of luring the homeowners through six websites, including “wekillyourmortgage.com” and collected thousands of dollars in upfront fees ranging from $1,000 to $10,000.

The scam ran through Cupp's mortgage company, North Bay Trust Services.

The three created fraudulent documents that only delayed a homeowner's foreclosure, but did not satisfy the preexisting mortgage debt to the original lender.

“Vulnerable California homeowners thought they were working to save their homes but were actually the victims of a fraudulent scheme,” Harris said.

It is not known how many people have been victimized as state prosecutors are hoping more will come forward.

Cupp, Heyden and Wertz did not enter pleas during their appearance in Sonoma County Superior Court on Monday. Cupp and Heyden are being held in the Sonoma County jail on $500,000 and $75,000 bail, respectively. Wertz has been released on her own recognizance.

Felony charged dropped

(AP) -- The most serious charge has been dropped against a private contractor blamed for a 4,200-acre Santa Cruz Mountains wildfire in 2008.

Santa Clara County prosecutors said on Monday they weren't confident they could prove a felony reckless-burning charge against contractor Channing Verden.

Verden still faces a misdemeanor count for failing to prevent the escape of a fire.

The San Jose Mercury News reported Verden left two debris piles smoldering and winds later kicked up sparks that started the weeklong wildfire that resulted in 63 homes and 69 outbuildings destroyed.

Airport terraces

(AP) -- Delta Air Lines is planning to open outdoor terraces with sweeping runway views for its Delta Sky Clubs members at New York's John F. Kennedy and Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson airports.

The terrace at JFK will be located in a $1.2 billion redevelopment of Terminal 4 set to open in May.

In Atlanta, The Sky Deck is to open this summer adjacent to the Delta Sky Club in Atlanta's new international terminal.

Tim Mapes, Delta's senior vice president of marketing, said the airline is partnering with Architectural Digest and designer Thom Filicia to design the terraces.

Delta (NYSE: DAL) said the airline has opened or renovated 13 clubs across its system in the past 24 months.

General Growth warrants

(AP) -- Mall operator General Growth Properties Inc. said Monday that it has bought $633 million in warrants for its shares from two of the major investors that helped pull the company out of bankruptcy in 2010.

The Chicago-based real estate investment trust acquired the warrants from The Blackstone Group (NYSE: BX) and Fairholme Funds Inc.

The warrants, which were scheduled to expire in November 2017, were exercisable into roughly 52 million common shares at a weighted average price of about $9.37 per share.

That represents a discount of more than twofold to General Growth's (NYSE: GGP) closing price of $19.53 on Monday.

As a result of the transaction, which General Growth plans to fund with cash, Blackstone and Fairholme no longer hold any warrants to acquire the mall operator's shares.

The move leaves a third major investor, Brookfield Asset Management Inc. (NYSE: BAM), as the sole holder of General Growth's remaining warrants.

Those warrants currently translate into roughly 83 million shares at an average exercise price of about $9.53 per share, the company said.

General Growth has a portfolio of 126 regional malls in the U.S. and 18 malls in Brazil.

The company filed the largest real-estate bankruptcy case in U.S. history in 2009 under the burden of nearly $28 billion in debt.

It exited bankruptcy with the aid of $6.8 billion in equity commitments from an investor group led by Brookfield.

ResCap sale delayed

(Bloomberg) -- Residential Capital LLC, the mortgage company liquidating assets in bankruptcy, delayed closing the $3 billion sale of its main business to Ocwen Loan Servicing LLC to Feb. 15, a lawyer said Tuesday.

The company expects to close on Jan. 31 the part of sale involving Green Tree Servicing LLC, a unit of Walter Investment Management.

Ocwen and Green Tree won an auction for ResCap's loan servicing unit last year with a bid of $3 billion.

When the Green Tree part of the sale closes, ResCap will repay $400 million owed on a so-called debtor-in-possession loan the company took out to fund its bankruptcy.

New York-based ResCap filed bankruptcy in May to with plans to sell its major assets and resolve legal claims related to mortgage loans.

The company is owned by Ally Financial Inc., a Detroit-based auto lender majority owned by U.S. taxpayers.

The $1.5 billion sale of ResCap's main loan portfolio to Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE: BRK.A) should also close as planned on Jan. 31.

The case is In re Residential Capital LLC, 12-12020, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

Related in Abu Dhabi

(Bloomberg) -- Related Cos., the New York developer founded by billionaire Stephen Ross, and its partner Gulf Capital plan to build a $1 billion shopping mall focusing on department stores in Abu Dhabi.

Gulf Related, the joint venture undertaking the project, also plans construction two towers connected to the mall that will include a 300-room hotel as well as 120 serviced apartments, Kenneth Himmel, president and chief executive officer of Related Urban, a unit of Related Cos., said Tuesday.

Sowwah Central, as the project is named, is the venture's second development on Sowwah island, which will be the location for a financial district and Abu Dhabi’s stock exchange.

The mall, due to be completed in 2017, will be financed by a combination of equity and debt, Himmel said.

Gulf Related bought the land last year from Abu Dhabi's sovereign investment fund Mubadala Development Co. PJSC, which hasn’t yet decided whether it will invest in this project, Himmel said.

Gulf Related may assume debt to fund as much as 60 percent of the development, designed to include cinemas, health clubs and restaurants, Himmel said.

“Gulf Capital and Related are anchoring this project,” said Karim El Solh, Chief Executive Officer of United Arab Emirates' private equity firm Gulf Capital.

“We are approaching investors such as sovereign wealth funds, pension funds, insurance companies, financial institutions and family owned companies who are looking for a long-term cash yield.”

The response has been positive, helped by the company's ability to get commitments for seven- to 10-year leases from retailers it’s in discussions with, El Solh said.

Investors should expect an annual yield of 12 percent to 13 percent once the mall is fully occupied, he said.

Sowwah Central will have a gross area of 3.1 million square feet.

“We don't want to over leverage, so we are looking for debt of 50 percent to 60 percent,” Himmel said. Debt will mostly be raised locally and regionally, he said, without identifying the banks.

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