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Citigroup pays $158 million in mortgage fraud pact
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Citigroup pays $158 million in mortgage fraud pact

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Citigroup pays $158 million in mortgage fraud pact

(Reuters) - Citigroup Inc has agreed to pay $158.3 million to settle U.S. civil claims that it defrauded the government into insuring thousands of risky home loans made by its CitiMortgage unit.

Wednesday's settlement resolves claims under the federal False Claims Act against the third-largest U.S. bank, and arose from a "whistleblower" lawsuit brought by Sherry Hunt, a CitiMortgage employee in Missouri.

CitiMortgage "admits, acknowledges and accepts responsibility" for misleading the government into insuring risky home loans, according to settlement papers filed in U.S. District Court in New York. Investigators said the misconduct lasted for more than six years.

The civil fraud case is part of a crackdown by the Department of Justice against lenders it believes contributed to the housing crisis by originating risky home loans that should not have been made, insured or sold.

Whistleblowers can receive up to 25 percent of settlements reached with the government in such cases, depending on how much work they contributed. It was not immediately clear how much Hunt, a quality control manager at CitiMortgage, might recover. Neither she nor her lawyer, Finley Gibbs, responded to a request for comment.
Citigroup spokesman Mark Rodgers said the bank is pleased to settle.

"We take our quality assurance processes seriously and have pro-actively undertaken process improvements to ensure that they are as robust as possible," he said.

Rodgers also said Citigroup has set aside enough money to cover the payout. The bank had said last week it was taking a $125 million after-tax charge against results for its just-completed fourth quarter in connection with mortgage litigation.

Claims brought under the False Claims Act have recovered more than $34 billion in federal and state cases since the law was amended in 1986, according to the Taxpayers Against Fraud Education Fund.

The government accused Citigroup of falsely certifying that many of its loans qualified for insurance from the Federal Housing Agency, which is part of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Investigators said 9,636, or more than 30 percent, of nearly 30,000 HUD-insured mortgage loans that CitiMortgage made or underwrote since 2004 have defaulted, costing the agency nearly $200 million in insurance claims.

"For far too long, lenders treated HUD's insurance of their mortgages like they were playing with house money," U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in Manhattan said in a statement. "In fact, they were playing with other people's money and other people's homes."

The government also contended that even after a 2008 HUD audit found "numerous defects" in CitiMortgage's oversight of loans in default, quality control deteriorated.

It said this was in part because the unit pressured workers to encourage quality control personnel to ignore problems, rewarding them with higher salaries if they succeeded.
In January 2011, for example, CitiMortgage held a "Star Players Award" ceremony for the efforts of some workers to challenge defects reported by the quality control unit.

The $158.3 million payout is separate from New York-based Citigroup's agreement to pay as much as $2.22 billion under last week's roughly $25 billion U.S. settlement with five big mortgage servicers over alleged foreclosure abuses.
Bank of America Corp reached a $1 billion resolution of FHA claims as part of last week's settlement. U.S. Attorneys in Colorado, North Carolina and South Carolina were also part of the foreclosure investigation, the Justice Department said.

Last May, the government accused Deutsche Bank AG and its MortgageIT Inc unit in a $1 billion False Claims Act case over misleading HUD into insuring risky mortgages.

Six months later, it filed similar charges against Houston-based Allied Home Mortgage Capital Corp, which had billed itself as the largest privately held U.S. mortgage broker.

Deutsche Bank and Allied Home have fought the charges. Andrew Levander, a lawyer for Deutsche Bank, and Bruce Alexander, a lawyer for Allied Home, did not immediately respond to requests on Wednesday for comment.
Wednesday's Citigroup settlement was approved by U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero in Manhattan, the Justice Department said.

Shares of Citigroup closed down 1.1 percent at $31.72 on the New York Stock Exchange.
The case is U.S. ex rel. Hunt v. Citigroup Inc et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 11-05473.

Citigroup pays $158 million in mortgage fraud pact - Yahoo! Finance

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  #2 (permalink)
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I still can't get over the fact that every week seemingly some bank is getting sued or being fined for outright fraud or some kind of illicit activity.

I would llike to see the day when they fine them in such a manner as to actually keep them honest.

Actually if it was individuals being defrauded they should be the one's that get the proceeds directly from any fines imposed instead of the government taking it and MAYBE giving something back to those defrauded or whatnot.

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Thanks for the update kbit. This "fine" may be a just a token deal to assuage the public. They still got 1.5 trillion in TARP money. Unfortunately, imo, the banking cartel, global or domestic seems to have a lot of influence with the government and the law that they are still getting away with a lot. Corzine still seems to be getting away with it or at least quietly as he and his cohorts can, while a few months earlier their latest fall guy was some individual Indian-american insider-trader who got over 10 years in jail.! (best said at 7:30 on)

more at : Max Keiser - Financial War Reports
Alex Jones' Infowars: There's a war on for your mind!

Last edited by Cloudy; February 15th, 2012 at 06:34 PM.
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I think if you take the paltry size of the fine compared to the unknown and still to be determined taxpayers' losses on the bailout plan(s) in place and yet to be applied, the government hopes we will overlook the fact that the main thrust of the agreement ; it holds banks blameless and shields them from future prosecution. Wouldn't do for one of the banksters to get more than a finger-slap.

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