Bank of America Corp. will pay $335 million to settle allegations that its Countrywide Financial Corp. unit discriminated against black and Hispanic borrowers, in the largest residential fair-lending settlement in history.
The agreement, announced on Wednesday, involves more than 210,000 minority borrowers who were charged higher fees or who could have qualified for a prime mortgage, one offered to borrowers with the best credit histories, but instead were steered into a more costly subprime loan.
The case is the first by the Justice Department that accuses a lender of steering borrowers to more costly mortgages. The agreement also ends a separate discriminatory lending lawsuit filed by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan in state court in June 2010.
Bank of America neither admitted nor denied the allegations in the settlement. The bank said it settled to resolve issues tied to Countrywide's practices before Bank of America's July 2008 purchase of the lender. The bank said it is "committed to fair and equal treatment of all our customers." . . .
Remember how the pressure to give loans to individuals who couldn't afford them lead to the financial crisis (see here and here)? Failure to count welfare or unemployment payments as income is viewed as evidence of discrimination. Now the Obama administration forces Bank of America to pay record $335 million penalty for supposedly discriminating against minorities: