Wells Fargo admits deception in $1.2 billion U.S. mortgage accord

Tedious Fine Print on Mortgage Loan Docs Now A Thing of the Past

Wells Fargo & Co (WFC.N) admitted to deceiving the U.S. government into insuring thousands of risky mortgages, as it formally reached a record $1.2 billion settlement of a U.S. Department of Justice lawsuit.

The settlement with Wells Fargo, the largest U.S. mortgage lender and third-largest U.S. bank by assets, was filed on Friday in Manhattan federal court. It also resolves claims against Kurt Lofrano, a former Wells Fargo vice president.

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According to the settlement, Wells Fargo "admits, acknowledges, and accepts responsibility" for having from 2001 to 2008 falsely certified that many of its home loans qualified for Federal Housing Administration insurance.

The San Francisco-based lender also admitted to having from 2002 to 2010 failed to file timely reports on several thousand loans that had material defects or were badly underwritten, a process that Lofrano was responsible for supervising.

Franklin Codel, president of Wells Fargo Home Lending, in a statement said the settlement "allows us to put the legal process behind us, and to focus our resources and energy on what we do best -- serving the needs of the nation's homeowners."

Lewis Liman, a lawyer for Lofrano, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Wells Fargo on Feb. 3 said the settlement would reduce its previously reported 2015 profit by $134 million, to account for extra legal expenses.

The case is U.S. v. Wells Fargo Bank NA, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 12-07527.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel and Nate Raymond in New York; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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