Banks Settle with Feds for $8.5B, Ending Foreclosure Review Program

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Ten top U.S. mortgage lenders have agreed to pay federal regulators $8.5 billion to put to bed a case-by-case review program of victims of foreclosure abuse. Under the deal, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo and six others will give $5.2 billion in mortgage assistance and $3.3 billion in direct payments to wronged borrowers, according to officials. But critics in Congress worried the deal might leave behind homeowners who got scant relief from lenders. "I have serious concerns that this settlement may allow banks to skirt what they owe and sweep past abuses under the rug without determining the full harm borrowers have suffered," said one Maryland Democrat. The 10 settling banks were among the companies regulators flagged in 2011 over allegations of improper home seizures, amid the spate of foreclosures that followed the 2007 housing collapse. After regulators required banks to contact borrowers and review their cases under the program the settlement is shuttering, some 4.4 million letters were sent to potential claimants, but only about a half million applied by the Dec. 31 deadline to have their cases reviewed.

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