Countrywide makes largest residential fair lending settlement in history

Thomas E. Perez, an assistant attorney general, announced the settlement on Wednesday, flanked by the attorney general, Eric Holder, and Shaun Donovan, the head of Housing and Urban Development.
Thomas E. Perez, an assistant attorney general, announced the settlement on Wednesday, flanked by the attorney general, Eric Holder, and Shaun Donovan, the head of Housing and Urban Development. Benjamin Myers/Reuters

Bank of America paid $335 million Wednesday to settle allegations that its Countrywide Financial unit discriminated against black and Latino borrowers during the housing boom. U.S.Attorney General Eric Holder says it amounts to the "largest residential fair lending settlement ever reached in the history of our nation.”

Holder says Countrywide routinely charged black and Latino borrowers far more for loans, and he used an L.A. case to make the point.

“These allegations represent alarming conduct by one of the largest mortgage lenders in the country," said Holder. "For example, a qualified African-American customer in Los Angeles borrowing $200,000 paid an average of $1,200 more in fees than a similarly qualified white borrower.”

Holder says more than 200,000 homebuyers across the country were the victims of more costly loans.

As the housing boom went bust, Bank of America scooped up the remnants of Countrywide. Officials with B of A said they are trying to “resolve issues about alleged historic practices at Countrywide" and that, in this case, Bank of America practices are not the ones in question.

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