First American Title Insurance Co. has agreed to pay a $5 million fine and sever ties to 87 limited partnership title agencies in Florida to settle allegations the company paid kickbacks to builders, bankers, real estate agents and brokers in exchange for business referrals. Florida regulators and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development accused First American of creating sham affiliated businesses that it owned jointly with companies that could refer home buyers in need of title insurance. The businesses existed only to funnel payments to the companies providing referrals, the settlement alleged, with First American providing "all regular title services required to effect title insurance." "We will not tolerate anyone who violates insurance laws designed to protect the public in order to gain an unfair advantage over their competitors," Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink said in a statement announcing the settlement. First American said the joint ventures were in ...
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