Fidelity pays $4.5M to settle kickback allegations

HUD: TransactionPoint 'sublicensing fees' violate RESPA

Fidelity National Financial Inc. has agreed to pay federal regulators $4.5 million to settle allegations that it paid illegal kickbacks to potentially hundreds of real estate brokerages for referring title insurance, home warranty and other business to the company through a Web-based transaction management platform, TransactionPoint.

Fidelity National Financial (FNF), the nation’s largest title insurance underwriter, denied the allegations and said the payments did not violate provisions of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) governing the payment of referral fees.

According the settlement agreement between FNF and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), real estate brokerages allegedly entered into application service provider agreements with Fidelity, which provided the brokerages with access to TransactionPoint.

The brokerages, in turn, entered into sublicensing agreements with closing-cost providers, including subsidiaries of Fidelity, enabling those subsidiaries to be listed in TransactionPoint as providers of settlement services, HUD said.

FNF’s subsidiaries paid the real estate brokerages a fee for each referral they received — a violation of RESPA’s anti-kickback provisions, HUD alleged.