Wednesday, June 6, 2012

DOJ and SunTrust Mortgage Inc. Reach $21 Million Discriminatory Lending Settlement

Another large mortgage lending company is on the hook for discriminatory policies and practices.  Last week, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that SunTrust Mortgage Inc. has entered into a $21 million settlement to resolve accusations of lending discrimination.  Our Oak Park and River Forest foreclosure defense attorneys know that many occurrences of mortgage fraud and abuse occurred before and after the burst of the housing bubble.  The Justice Department’s lawsuit alleges that SunTrust Mortgage Inc. charged minority borrowers higher fees based on their race or national origin between 2005 and 2009.  Specifically, the government alleged that SunTrust engaged in a pattern of discrimination against African American and Hispanic applicants that increased loan prices for many of those qualified borrowers.

The Problem
SunTrust Mortgage Inc. is the mortgage-lending subsidiary of one of the country’s largest commercial banks.  The Department of Justice investigated the company for over two years, including reviewing SunTrust Mortgage Inc.’s internal data and reports.  According to the lawsuit, the subsidiary engaged in discriminatory lending practices from 2005 to 2009.  However, at some point around 2009, the company implemented new policies to prevent discrimination.  Thus, a condition of the $21 settlement requires the company to continue using the policies it adopted to prevent discriminatory lending.  The Department of Justice stated that SunTrust Mortgage Inc. cooperated fully with the government’s investigation.

A judge must approve the SunTrust Mortgage Inc. settlement before it becomes effective.  The settlement was filed in federal court in Richmond, Virginia, which is where the subsidiary has its headquarters.

Bad Bank Behavior
This is not the first time a big mortgage lender has been accused of racial discrimination.  At then end of last year, Bank of America entered into the largest residential fair-lending settlement in history.  The company paid $335 million to settle allegations that its Countrywide Financial unit discriminated against minority borrowers.  In that case, Countrywide charged minorities more, on average, than non-minority applicants with similar credit histories.  To read more about that settlement and discriminatory lending practices, please click here.

It is not surprising for those of us working in Oak Park and River Forest mortgage foreclosure that another big mortgage lender is being held responsible for its questionable lending practices and policies.  We can only hope that those responsible for contributing to the downturn of the housing market will continue to be held accountable. 

While such settlements are important, we also realize that many struggling Chicagoland homeowners may feel these settlements do not have much of an impact on their everyday lives.  That is why learning about the legal options available to you in your individual circumstances can be so crucial.  If you believe you were a victim of lending discrimination or if you are concerned about the possibility of foreclosure, please know that you do not have to handle the burden alone.  At the Emerson Law Firm, we feel you should at least have the chance to tell your story.  That is why we offer confidential consultations so that you can learn about the many protections that are available to help struggling homeowners.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Bank of America Settles Huge Fair-Lending Lawsuit For Discriminating Against Minority Borrowers

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