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US wants Bank of America to pay $2.1B in penalties

9:40 AM, Jan 30, 2014   |    comments
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NEW YORK (AP) - Federal prosecutors wants a judge to order Bank of America to pay $2.1 billion in penalties for knowingly selling bad home loans, more than double the amount the government had sought in the case.

In documents filed Wednesday, the government said it wants Bank of America to make a payment based on its total revenue from the fraud instead of the profit it made.

The U.S. had wanted Bank of America to pay about $864 million over losses it incurred after it bought thousands of home loans made by Countrywide Financial in 2007 and 2008 during the housing boom. A jury found Bank of America liable for knowingly selling the bad loans to mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The jury also returned the verdict against Countrywide and a former executive, Rebecca Mairone.

U.S. attorney Preet Bharara made the request for the penalty - the maximum allowed - in documents filed Wednesday with the U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

Officials with Bank of America weren't immediately available to comment.

Countrywide, once the biggest mortgage lender in the U.S., played a major role in the collapse of the housing market because of its heavy reliance on subprime mortgages. Facing serious financial challenges, it was acquired by Bank of America in 2008 in an all-stock deal valued at about $4 billion.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac received about $187 billion in aid from taxpayers when the government rescued them during the financial crisis, after they incurred massive losses on risky mortgages.

The two companies don't directly make loans to borrowers. They buy mortgages from lenders, package them as bonds, guarantee them against default and sell them to investors. That helps make loans available.

Shares of Charlotte, N.C.-based Bank of America rose 18 cents to $16.86 in morning trading.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

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