Skip to Content

Wells Fargo in settlement talks over accusations it cheated taxpayers

November 5, 2014

Wells Fargo Posts Higher Net IncomeWells Fargo Posts Higher Net Income

(REUTERS) – Wells Fargo said on Wednesday it is in discussions with the U.S. government to resolve a lawsuit accusing the nation’s largest mortgage lender of cheating taxpayers by submitting ineligible home loans to a federal insurance program.

Wells Fargo, the fourth-largest U.S. bank by assets, disclosed the talks in a quarterly filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

In October 2012, the U.S. Department of Justice sued the San Francisco-based bank, saying it failed to report more than 6,000 loans that did not meet requirements for insurance under the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), and failed to properly review early payment defaults.

The government said this caused the FHA to pay out hundreds of millions of dollars in claims on loans that did not qualify for insurance.

Wells Fargo asked a federal judge in Washington, D.C. shortly after the complaint was filed to excuse it from the Justice Department’s claims, but was rebuffed in 2013. The bank’s appeal also failed.

At a June hearing in New York, a Justice Department lawyer said the bank and the government had tried several times to resolve their differences but were unsuccessful.

Jennifer Queliz, a spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in Manhattan, declined comment.

Wells Fargo is not the only big bank to face such allegations. JPMorgan Chase & Co, Bank of America Corp , Citigroup Inc and Deutsche Bank AG all reached settlements with the Justice Department over related issues in recent years.

The bank lowered its estimate of projected litigation-related losses to as much as $950 million above the sum already set aside at the end of September. That is down from an estimated $1.2 billion at the end of June, according to the SEC filing.

Wells Fargo shares (WFC) rose 1.1% to $53.48.