BofA raises estimate from potential legal, regulatory losses to $5.1B

The lender says the U.S. Attorney’s office plans to recommend civil action against Bank of America

As the odds of the Department of Justice (DOJ) filing another suit tied to mortgage bonds increases, Bank of America Corp. — the United States’ second biggest lender — raised its estimate of potential added loses from legal and regulatory matters by 82 percent to $5.1 billion.

The Charlotte, N.C.-based lender said in a quarterly regulatory filing that the U.S. Attorney’s office plans to recommend civil action against Bank of America, which is tied to the bundling of home loans into securities, Bloomberg reported.

Since the mortgage fallout stemming from the financial crisis of 2008, the bank has spent more than $45 billion on litigation, settlements and refunds for investors to compensate for substandard mortgage lending, servicing and foreclosures.

Banks are under greater pressure to re-evaluate potential legal costs after JPMorgan Chase & Co. entered talks with the Justice Department on a proposed $13 billion settlement of state and federal probes. However, it appears that talks between the banking giant and the DOJ are on shaky ground. The bank hoped the talks would end investigations into the mortgage backed securities it sold running up to the great recession, but it appears the discussion could still be subject to breakdown.

In the five years since the financial crisis, the top six largest banks in the U.S., led by Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase, have racked up $103 billion in legal costs, more than all dividends paid to shareholders since 2008.

On Oct. 23, a Manhattan federal jury found Bank of America Corp.’s Countrywide unit liable for selling thousands of defective loans to mortgage-finance firms Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, thus setting off the financial crisis. The U.S. attorney’s office called Countrywide’s quality control “a joke,” and Countrywide may be liable for $848 million in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s gross losses due to the failed mortgages. 

For more on the efforts by banks to rectify the mortgage collapse, check out InsideCounsel’s coverage below:

J.P. Morgan settlement talks could still stall

U.S. attorney opening criminal probe into J.P. Morgan’s dealings

FHFA seeking $6 billion from Bank of America in mortgage crisis settlement

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