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U.S. Government Seeks to Add Wells Fargo Vice President to Mortgage-Fraud Suit

online.wsj.com| November 27, 2013

By Saabira Chaudhuri

The U.S. government on Friday filed a motion to add a Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC) executive in charge of quality control to a lawsuit accusing the biggest U.S. mortgage lender of "reckless" lending and leaving a federal insurance program to pick up the tab.

The action, filed in federal court in Manhattan, claims that Vice President Kurt Lofrano--whose function included self-reporting materially defective loans to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development— "concealed the bank's bad loans and shoddy underwriting to protect its enormous profits."

It says that prior to October 2005, Wells Fargo didn't self-report a single bad loan to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The government's motion aims to add Mr. Lofrano to the suit it filed in October 2012 under the Federal False Claims Act. That sought "hundreds of millions of dollars" in damages on behalf of the FHA, a government agency that doesn't make loans but insures those made by lenders that meet its standards.

The original complaint alleges nearly a decade of misconduct dating back to May 2001. The suit contends that San Francisco-based Wells Fargo engaged in "regular practice of reckless origination and underwriting" of government-backed loans. The company said that more than 100,000 FHA loans met federal guidelines when more than half of them didn't, according to the complaint.

Wells Fargo has previously denied the allegations. On Monday, the bank didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

Mr. Lofrano's LinkedIn profile lists him as Wells Fargo's vice president of credit risk, a position he has held since January 2000.

 

Back to November 2013 Archive

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