October 9, 2012, MSNBC/Reuters
The U.S. government filed a civil mortgage fraud lawsuit on [October 9] against Wells Fargo & Co, the latest legal volley against big banks for their lending during the housing boom. The complaint, brought by the U.S. Attorney in Manhattan, seeks damages and civil penalties from Wells Fargo for more than 10 years of alleged misconduct related to government-insured Federal Housing Administration loans. The lawsuit alleges the FHA paid hundreds of millions of dollars on insurance claims on thousands of defaulted mortgages as a result of false certifications by Wells Fargo, the fourth-biggest U.S. bank as measured by assets. “As the complaint alleges, yet another major bank has engaged in a longstanding and reckless trifecta of deficient training, deficient underwriting and deficient disclosure, all while relying on the convenient backstop of government insurance,” said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. Bharara’s office has brought similar cases in the past few years, including one against Citigroup Inc unit CitiMortgage Inc, which settled the case for $158.3 million in February, and against Deutsche Bank, which paid $202.3 million in May to resolve its case. The U.S. Attorney’s office in Brooklyn brought the biggest such case, against Bank of America Corp’s Countrywide unit, which agreed in February to pay $1 billion to resolve the allegations.
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