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Bank of America paid $315 million to settle crisis-era lawsuits

charlotteobserver.com | May 6, 2015

By Katherine Peralta

Charlotte-based Bank of America has paid $315 million to settle a pair of financial crisis-era lawsuits over who should pay for the multibillion dollar fraud at failed lender Taylor Bean & Whitaker Mortgage, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

The lawsuits were brought by Deutsche Bank and BNP Paribas, whose mortgage units had invested in notes issued by Taylor Bean’s Ocala Funding unit, a mortgage conduit. The two banks sued Bank of America, which acted as an intermediary between investors and Ocala, in 2009 for $1.75 billion when Taylor Bean went under and the notes soured.

“Resolving these claims is a substantial achievement in our efforts to recover losses suffered on Ocala,” Deutsche Bank spokeswoman Renee Calabro told the Journal.

A Bank of America spokesman declined to comment, and a representative from BNP Paribas couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Bank of America said in a regulatory filing in April that it had settled the Ocala litigation. In its quarterly report, the bank said the $315 million settlement payment was fully accrued as of Dec. 31, 2014.

Taylor Bean created Ocala in 2005 to buy home loans, which it bundled into securities and sold to investors. The scheme was part of a seven-year fraud orchestrated by Florida businessman Lee Farkas, who is currently serving a 30-year prison sentence just north of Raleigh.

The fraud also resulted in the collapse of the firm’s main lender, Alabama-based Colonial Bank.

When Taylor Bean’s mortgage assembly line collapsed in 2009, banks, investors and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. all denied responsibility, and Bank of America and the FDIC sued each other. As the receiver for 26 failed banks, Bank of America agreed to pay $1.03 billion to the FDIC as part of its settlement with the Justice Department.

Prosecutors have called Ocala one of the biggest bank frauds in U.S. history.

 

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