Wells Fargo Bank may be the largest mortgage loan originator in the country, but the Department of Justice says that Wells Fargo continues to violate the terms of a settlement reached in July, 2012. On October 9, 2012, prosecutors in New York filed a new mortgage-based civil action against Wells Fargo, seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in damages for alleged mortgage fraud violations under the False Claims Act. The action asserts that Wells Fargo engaged in a long-standing and reckless trifecta of deficient training, deficient underwriting and deficient disclosure, all while relying on the convenient back stop of government insurance. Essentially, it is claimed that Wells Fargo originated bad loans, and then relied on government insurance through the Federal Housing Administration to pay the claims when those mortgages fell into default.
Wells Fargo, however, claims that the recent action is barred because the alleged conduct was already part of the July, 2012, settlement, and Wells Fargo claims that the slate was wiped clean. In court filings on November 1, Wells Fargo asked a trial judge to declare that the government’s second lawsuit is a breach of the July, 2012, settlement terms.
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