Industry NewsMortgage

Lenders accused of illegal kickbacks

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Consumers don't have to prove they were overcharged in order to sue settlement services providers for triple damages under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), a federal court of appeals has ruled in a precedent-setting decision involving allegations of "captive reinsurance" of private mortgage insurance (PMI) policies.The decision exposes Countrywide Financial Corp. owner Bank of America to potential damages of nearly $2.7 billion. Countrywide is accused in a proposed class-action lawsuit of funneling business to private mortgage insurers who had agreed to reinsure policies with an affiliated company, Balboa Reinsurance Co. Several similar cases alleging captive reinsurance schemes by Washington Mutual, GMAC and Wells Fargo brought by the same Pennsylvania-based law firm representing consumers in the Countrywide lawsuit had been stayed pending the appeals court decision and can now move forward.In their proposed class-action lawsuit against Countrywide, attorne...