DOJ Finalizes Settlement Over Bank’s Mortgage Lending Practices

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On July 12, the DOJ announced a settlement with a national bank to resolve allegations that the bank engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination against qualified African-American and Hispanic borrowers in its mortgage lending from 2004 through 2009. Pursuant to a consent decree awaiting approval by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the bank will pay $125 million in compensation to wholesale borrowers who, the DOJ alleges, were steered into subprime mortgages or who paid higher fees and rates because of their race or national origin, and $50 million in direct down payment assistance to borrowers in communities identified by the DOJ as having large numbers of discrimination victims. In addition to the combined $175 million payment, the bank also agreed to separately compensate individual African-American and Hispanic borrowers identified through an internal review of its retail mortgage lending operations. Finally, the agreement will subject the bank to other compliance, training, recordkeeping, and monitoring requirements. In addition to resolving the federal allegations, the consent decree resolves a fair lending suit based on similar allegations brought by the Illinois Attorney General. The DOJ’s Fair Lending Unit in the Civil Rights Division’s Housing and Civil Enforcement Section worked with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and the Illinois Attorney General to obtain this agreement. The Fair Lending unit was established in 2010, and since that time has filed a complaint in or resolved 19 matters, a pace far surpassing that of previous years. This matter also is the most recent to be concluded under President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, an interagency effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes.