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Cook County Sues Bank of America on Predatory Lending Charges

chicagobusiness.com | April 2, 2014

By Alby Gallun

About a week after suing HSBC PLC subsidiaries on predatory lending charges, Cook County has filed a similar suit against Bank of America Corp.

The county blames the residential lenders for contributing to the foreclosure crisis, demanding that they compensate it for the losses that it incurred as a result.

“This predatory lending crisis caused tremendous tangible and intangible damage, particularly to African American and Latino communities in Cook County,” Cook County President Preckwinkle said in a statement. “These practices led to the erosion of the tax base, the loss of property tax revenue, out-of-pocket costs relating to abandoned or vacant properties, and other damages to the fabric of the communities and residents arising from the resulting urban blight.”

The county sued Charlotte, N.C.-based Bank of America, and Countrywide Financial Corp. and Merrill Lynch & Co., businesses it bought in 2008, yesterday in U.S. District Court in Chicago. The suit includes much of the same language the county used in a federal lawsuit it filed March 24 against HSBC businesses.

The county alleges that the banks violated the federal Fair Housing Act by providing unaffordable loans to homeowners in minority communities in the county.

Bank of America has not analyzed the complaint, but "we believe our record will demonstrate there is no basis for the claims," a bank spokesman wrote in an email.

"We have a firm commitment and strong track record for fair lending," he wrote. "We responded with urgency to rising mortgage defaults that resulted from the country's severe economic downturn and the personal financial hardships — unemployment and underemployment, divorce, and medical disability, chief among them – that resulted for so many Americans."

 

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