Utah joins lawsuit against nation's largest mortgage lenders

Published: Monday, March 12 2012 1:25 p.m. MDT

FILE - In this July 17, 2006, file photo, a Bank of America sign is shown at a branch at the Bank of America Center in San Francisco.

Eric Risberg, file, Associated Press

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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah has joined 48 states and the U.S. Department of Justice in a lawsuit against the nation's five largest mortgage providers.

The civil complaint filed Monday in federal court alleges misconduct that resulted in the "issuance of improper mortgages, premature and unauthorized foreclosures, violation of service members' and other homeowners' rights and protections, the use of false and deceptive affidavits and other documents, and the waste and abuse of taxpayer funds."

Named as defendants are Bank of America Corp., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Wells Fargo & Co., Citigroup Inc., and Ally Financial Inc. (formerly GMAC).

The complaint follows a $25 billion settlement with the mortgage lenders announced last month. Utah received $21.9 million in the settlement. State lawmakers earmarked the money for hiring mortgage fraud investigators, homeless shelters and low-income housing. They also put $11 million into the state's Rainy Day Fund.

John Swallow, chief deputy attorney general, said he anticipates the complaint will lead to a series of powerful federal court orders.

"We expect that many consumers across Utah and across the country will soon start seeing the substantial direct relief we negotiated as part of this settlement," he said.

In addition to the consumer relief, the proposed settlement agreements include comprehensive reforms of mortgage loan servicing.

"The mortgage servicers will have to play by a new set of rules," he said. "These tough new servicing standards will provide significant new protections for homeowners."

More information can be found at nationalmortgagesettlement.com or hud.gov

E-mail: romboy@desnews.com Twitter: dennisromboy

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