Wells Fargo to pay $175M in lending settlement

WASHINGTON — Wells Fargo Bank will pay at least $175 million to settle accusations that it discriminated against African-American and Hispanic borrowers in violation of fair-lending laws, the Justice Department announced Thursday.

Wells Fargo, the nation’s largest residential home mortgage originator, allegedly engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination against qualified African-American and Hispanic borrowers from 2004 through 2009.

At a news conference, Deputy Attorney General James Cole said the bank’s discriminatory lending practices resulted in more than 34,000 African-American and Hispanic borrowers in 36 states and the District of Columbia paying higher rates for loans solely because of the color of their skin.

Cole said that with the settlement, the second largest of its kind in history, the government will ensure that borrowers hit hard by the housing crisis will have an opportunity to access homeownership.

The bank will pay $125 million in compensation for borrowers who were steered into subprime mortgages or who paid higher fees and rates than white borrowers because of their race or national origin rather than because of differences in credit-worthiness.

Wells Fargo also will pay $50 million in direct down payment assistance to borrowers in areas of the country where the Justice Department identified large number of discrimination victims. Those areas include Washington, D.C., Chicago, Philadelphia, Oakland and San Francisco, New York City, Cleveland and Baltimore.

“The department’s action makes clear that we will hold financial institutions accountable, including some of the nation’s largest, for lending discrimination,” Cole said.

The settlement will bring “swift and meaningful relief” to African-American and Hispanic borrowers who received subprime loans when they should have received prime loans or who paid more for their loans, said Thomas Perez, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s civil rights division.

Perez said that because of the bank’s practices “an African-American wholesale customer in the Chicago area in 2007 seeking a $300,000 loan paid on average $2937 more in fees than a similarly qualified white applicant. And these fees were not based on any objective factors relating to credit risk. These fees amounted to a racial surtax. A Latino borrower in the Miami area in 2007 seeking a $300,000 paid on average $2,538 more than a similarly qualified white applicant. The racial surtax for African Americans in Miami in 2007 was $3,657.”

Wells Fargo noted in a statement that it has denied the claims.

“Wells Fargo is settling this matter solely for the purpose of avoiding contested litigation with the DOJ,” it said, “and to instead devote its resources to continuing to provide fair credit services and choices to eligible customers and important and meaningful assistance to borrowers in distressed U.S. real estate markets.”

More in Herald Business Journal

Best foot forward: Ferndale company to make custom shoes easy

Long specializing in insoles, Superfeet is putting 3-D machines in stores to make customized shoes.

Does a hypersonic US reconnaissance plane already exist?

A Skunk Works executive speaks of the top secret aircraft as if it is already in operation.

Alaska Airlines has selected destinations for new service from Paine Field. (Alaska Airlines)
Alaska Airlines will fly from Everett to 8 West Coast cities

Two destinations that didn’t make the list were Spokane and Hawaii.

Port of Everett CEO Les Reardanz has been called up and will be spending much of the year away from his office. He is going to Afghanistan. (Dan Bates / The Herald)
Port of Everett CEO reporting for duty — in Afghanistan

Les Reardanz has been called to active duty with the Navy for an eight-month deployment.

Boeing opens new $17 million training center in Auburn

Workers and dignitaries marked the grand opening of the facility Monday.

Trump’s company fights efforts to shed the president’s name

“Our homes are worth more without the Trump name.”

Airbus floats shutdown of A380 superjumbo

The aircraft is so big that some airports had to expand runways to accommodate the 550-seat plane.

Amanda Strong (left) tries on an Angel of the Winds Arena hat as she and Courtney Brown hand out gift bags after the renaming ceremony Dec. 13 in Everett. The new name replaces the Xfinity name. (Andy Bronson / Her file)
Angel of the Winds to break ground on $60M casino expansion

“We think we’re on the cusp of becoming a major resort.”

Why 7-Eleven, inventor of the Slurpee, is going organic

As sales of gas, cigarettes and soda plummet, stores to offer “better-for-you” products.

Most Read