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Bank of America Foreign Exchange and Mortgage Practices Under Investigation

Philip R. Stein

On Tuesday, Bank of America disclosed in its annual report with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that “government regulators” in North America, Europe and Asia are investigating its foreign exchange and mortgage practices and that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and state attorneys general are also investigating its handling of mortgage loans and residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS). The filing stated that one U.S. Attorney’s office intended to recommend to the DOJ that it bring a civil suit against Bank of America affiliates for their securitization of RMBS’s. Separately, Bank of America revealed that the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York is investigating whether the banking institution complied with a Federal Housing Administration program that helps lenders meet the demand for FHA-insured mortgages.

Bank of America also revealed in the SEC filing that its litigation expenses rose to nearly $6.1 billion, up more than a billion dollars from previous estimates at the end of the third quarter.

This filing comes less than a month after a New York judge approved an $8.5 billion settlement reached in 2011 between Bank of America and institutional investors that resolved claims brought by holders of Countrywide Financial Corp. securities. The Bank of America investigation should come as no surprise. Eight banks and eleven entities have now disclosed that they are similarly being investigated by global regulators.


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