Wells Fargo Bank Agrees to Pay $1.2 Billion for Improper Mortgage Lending Practices
The U.S. Department of Justice (USDOJ) has settled civil mortgage fraud claims against Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. and Wells Fargo executive Kurt Lofrano, stemming from Wells Fargo's participation in the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Direct Endorsement Lender Program.
According to the USDOJ, in the settlement, Wells Fargo agreed to pay $1.2 billion and admitted, acknowledged and accepted responsibility for, among other things, certifying to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), during the period from May 2001 through December 2008, that certain residential home mortgage loans were eligible for FHA insurance when in fact they were not, resulting in the Government having to pay FHA insurance claims when some of those loans defaulted.
The settlement resolves the United States' civil claims in its lawsuit in the Southern District of New York, as well as an investigation conducted by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York regarding Wells Fargo's FHA origination and underwriting practices subsequent to the claims in its lawsuit and an investigation conducted by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California into whether American Mortgage Network, LLC (AMNET), a mortgage lender acquired by Wells Fargo in 2009, falsely certified and submitted ineligible residential mortgage loans for FHA insurance.
"This settlement is another step in the Department of Justice's continuing efforts to hold accountable FHA approved lenders that unlawfully submitted false claims at the expense of American homeowners and taxpayers," said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department's Civil Division. "In addition to today's resolution with Wells Fargo, the department has pursued similar misconduct by numerous other lenders, returning more than $4 billion to the FHA fund and the Treasury and filing suit where appropriate. We remain committed to protecting the public fisc from all who seek to abuse it, whether they do business on Wall Street or Main Street."
"This Administration remains committed to holding lenders accountable for their lending practices," said Secretary Julián Castro for HUD. "The $1.2 billion settlement with Wells Fargo is the largest recovery for loan origination violations in FHA's history. Yet, this monetary figure can never truly make up for the countless families that lost homes as a result of poor lending practices."
The settlement with Wells Fargo was approved by U.S. District Judge Jesse M. Furman for the Southern District of New York.