Bank Of America Settles Suit Against Countrywide

fromWFAE

Add another costly settlement to Bank of America's multi-billion dollar tally of woes tied to the 2008 acquisition of mortgage giant Countrywide. The Justice Department announced on Wednesday that the North Carolina-based bank will pay $335 million to settle allegations of discriminatory lending.

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Add another costly settlement to Bank of America's multibillion-dollar tally tied to its acquisition of Countrywide. BofA bought Countrywide in 2008. The Justice Department announced yesterday that the North Carolina-based bank will pay $335 million to settle allegations of discriminatory lending.

Julie Rose reports from member station WFAE.

JULIE ROSE, BYLINE: During the heyday of the housing boom, the mere color of your skin may well have affected the rate you got on a mortgage. Here's Mike Calhoun, head of the Center for Responsible Lending.

MIKE CALHOUN: Our research shows that among borrowers with strong credit scores, African-American households were more than three times as likely to be pushed into one of these high cost subprime loans than were white households.

ROSE: The Justice Department says Countrywide Financial did just that - overcharging more than 200,000 African-American and Hispanic borrowers between 2004 and 2008.

ERIC HOLDER: Such conduct undercuts the notion of a level playing field for all consumers.

ROSE: That's Attorney General Eric Holder announcing the settlement in which Bank of America will pay $335 million to compensate those Countrywide borrowers.

HOLDER: Under this administration, these harmful and discriminatory practices simply will not be tolerated.

ROSE: A Bank of America spokesman is quick to emphasize the alleged discrimination happened before the company acquired Countrywide and adds Bank of America is committed to fair and equal treatment of all its customers. But it's Bank of America left paying the price for Countrywide's alleged sins, totaling more than $30 billion in lawsuits and settlements to date.

For NPR News, I'm Julie Rose in Charlotte.

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