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Inspector general concludes state regulators weren't protecting Floridians seeking mortgages

In a scathing report on the state's oversight of the mortgage industry, chief inspector general Melinda Miguel of the Office of Financial Regulation told the governor and Cabinet today that "the laws, rules and processes were not sufficient to protect the people of the State of Florida.''

Few escaped blame in the report, which implies that not only state laws as enacted by the legislature were lax but the overseers -- from the Cabinet officials on down -- also failed to protect the public. The report was ordered by the Cabinet after a Miami Herald investigation into mortage brokers found lax oversight had granted mortgage licenses to bank robbers and other felons. The Cabinet had no discussion.

After the meeting, CFO Alex Sink and Gov. Charlie Crist both said they didn't think the former OFR chief Don Saxon, who resigned a month ago, had been vindicated.

"There's a lot of work to be done over there,'' Sink said. "Our first order of business is the advocate on behalf of Florida citizens and that wasn't being done at the Office of Financial Regulation, the report uncovered that...That's got to stop.''

She had no patience for a claim from the agency that they didn't have the resources. "If you don't have resources, you stand up at the podium over there and beat your head or your fist and you tell your bosses that you don't have enough resources and if you don't get those resources this is what will happen. Instead of, where I read in a report, that he was quoted as saying, 'Well, we worked behind the scenes.'''