In the largest residential fair-lending settlement in history, Bank of America’s Countrywide Financial Corporation has agreed to pay $335 million to settle a dispute over allegations of systemic discrimination against qualified Latino and African-American borrowers.
Latinos made up about two-thirds of the cases investigated by the Department of Justice, which reviewed over 200,000 cases across 41 states and Washington, D.C. involving allegations that Latino and African-American borrowers were charged higher interest rates and fees by Countrywide than their white counterparts based on their race versus their credit history.
“The department’s action against Countrywide makes clear that we will not hesitate to hold financial institutions accountable, including one of the nation’s largest, for lending discrimination,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “These allegations represent alarming conduct – by one of the largest mortgage lenders in this country, during the height of the housing market boom.”
Bank of America says they discontinued harmful products and practices upon acquiring Countrywide in 2008.
“Countrywide’s actions contributed to the housing crisis, hurt entire communities and denied families access to the American dream,” said Thomas Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “We are using every tool in our law enforcement arsenal, including some that were dormant for years, to go after institutions of all sizes that discriminated against families solely because of their race or national origin.”