Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
For selling risky mortgages, Bank of America fined $1.3B
First Published Jul 30 2014 06:40 pm • Last Updated Jul 30 2014 07:13 pm

New York • A federal judge imposed a $1.3 billion civil penalty against Bank of America on Wednesday for its role in selling risky mortgages to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that were advertised as safe investments.

The fine was against Countrywide Financial, which Bank of America purchased in 2008 as the financial crisis was unfolding. It is the latest legal ruling against Wall Street.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

A jury found in October 2013 that BofA was liable for Countrywide’s role in selling risky loans to the government housing agencies through a program nicknamed the "Hustle" from August 2007 to May 2008. The jury found that Countrywide executives deliberately misrepresented the quality of mortgages being sold.

In his blunt ruling, Judge Jed Rakoff said the program was "driven by a hunger for profits and oblivious to the harms thereby visited, not just on the immediate victims but also on the financial system as a whole."

This is the first time a bank or its executives have been found liable under federal law for mortgage fraud leading up to the financial crisis, said Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, in a statement. It is also the first time civil penalties have been imposed on a bank or its executives for mortgage fraud.

"(It is) clear that mortgage fraud cannot be viewed as simply another cost of doing business in the financial world," Bharara said.

A spokesman for Bank of America, which is based in Charlotte, North Carolina, said the bank is exploring its legal options following Rakoff’s decision, including an appeal.

"We believe (the penalty) simply bares no relation to a limited Countrywide program that lasted several months and ended before Bank of America’s acquisition of the company," BofA spokesman Larry Grayson said.

Countrywide was one of many mortgage companies that sold risky mortgages to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac leading up to the housing bubble popping and subsequent financial crisis.

Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and other big Wall Street banks have paid out billions of dollars in legal settlements for their roles in the financial crisis. For JPMorgan, the settlements mostly stemmed from its purchases of Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers; in Bank of America’s case, it was mainly from its acquisitions of Countrywide and Merrill Lynch.


story continues below
story continues below

Rakoff imposed a separate $1 million penalty against Rebecca Mairone, a former Countrywide executive, for her role in the program. Lawyers representing Mairone did not immediately respond to a request for comment.



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.