|A settlement with North Carolina banking regulators will cost two Countrywide units more than $15 million -- including more than $11 million paid to nearly 5,000 borrowers and contributions to an interstate licensing organization.
Countrywide Home Loans and Countrywide Mortgage Ventures agreed to issue the refunds as part of a settlement announced today with the North Carolina Office of the Commissioner of Banks. No admission was made by Countrywide about any of the commissioner's allegations.
"We found evidence that Countrywide overcharged thousands of North Carolina homeowners," Deputy Commissioner of Banks Mark Pearce said in the announcement. "This settlement provides for a full refund of any illegal charges identified in the course of our examination."
The agreement calls for $11.5 million in immediate cash refunds on around 4,800 mortgages. The loans roughly include 3,800 first mortgages and 1,000 seconds. Another $1.6 million will be paid for investigation and examination expenses.
Countrywide will also make $2 million in grants to 26 foreclosure-prevention counseling agencies in the state that are non-profit.
In addition, the Calabasas, Calif.-based company will make "a significant grant to the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System." Countrywide has reportedly already provided $900,000 to the NMLS.
The settlement calls for Countrywide Mortgage Ventures to surrender its lender license, which it has done.
The settlement was the result of an examination started by the commissioner in 2007 that allegedly uncovered serious violations tied to permissible mortgage charges in the state.
On July 1, Countrywide Financial Corp. was acquired by Bank of America Corp. -- which is headquartered in North Carolina.
IN RE: Countrywide Home Loans Inc., License No. L-114554, Docket No. 08:170:MBB and Countrywide Mortgage Ventures LLC, License No. L-109175, Docket No. 08:171:MBB.
Consent Order dated Oct. 31, 2008 (State of North Carolina, Wake County)