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U.S., SunTrust announce nearly $1 billion settlement

By Staff and wire reports

This article was published June 18, 2014 at 7:08 a.m.

WASHINGTON — SunTrust has agreed to pay nearly $1 billion to resolve allegations that it underwrote and endorsed faulty mortgage loans, the Justice Department announced Tuesday.

The $968 million settlement, reached with the Justice Department and other government agencies, will include money for homeowner relief and a requirement that the company improve its handling of mortgage loans and foreclosures.

In announcing the agreement, authorities said SunTrust Mortgage, a Richmond, Va.-based mortgage lender and subsidiary of SunTrust Banks Inc., originated and underwrote bad loans between 2006 and 2012, gave borrowers false and misleading information about the status of foreclosure proceedings and charged unauthorized fees.

The company's own internal documents showed an awareness of the problem, the government alleged, with one 2012 report referring to a "broken loan origination process."

As part of the deal, SunTrust has agreed to pay $500 million to help borrowers at risk of default and homeowners who are underwater on their mortgages, and $418 million to resolve allegations that it underwrote bad loans. It's also agreed to a $50 million cash penalty, with $40 million to be distributed to borrowers and homeowners.

The settlement also involves the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and state attorneys general from across the country, including Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel.

McDaniel said in a statement that most of the consumer protections SunTrust must implement are already in place in Arkansas after a 2011 state law required mortgage servicers to provide homeowners at risk of foreclosure with important documents beforehand. Arkansas borrowers whose loans were serviced by SunTrust and who foreclosed between Jan. 1, 2008, and Dec. 31, 2013, may be eligible for direct payment, McDaniel said.

A monitor will ensure compliance with the agreement, which was filed in federal court in Washington.

SunTrust had announced the anticipated settlement in October.

Information for this article was contributed by The Associated Press and by Katie Doherty of Arkansas Online.


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