Jesse Hamilton, Bloomberg

As the rest of the housing industry recovers, a little-known firm with a key role in U.S. mortgage finance remains stuck in limbo, wrestling with regulators, lawsuits and the departures of senior employees.

The turbulence feeds uncertainty about the fate of Mortgage Electronic Registrations Systems Inc., or MERS, which documents the ownership and resale of about half of U.S. home loans. A breakdown could force clients such as Fannie Mae (FNMA) andBank of America Corp. to make costly changes to their loan businesses.

Management hasn’t completed fixes promised in a broad 2011 U.S. settlement designed to stop foreclosure abuses, according to two people briefed on MERS’ operations. Regulators rejected one of the firm’s consultants as unqualified and are examining why four employees hired to help with reforms — including the chief legal officer — recently quit, said the people, speaking on condition of anonymity because the matter is private.

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