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Countrywide Settles With CT

Borrowers allegedly overcharged

April 12, 2007

By MortgageDaily.com staff

The State of Connecticut has settled with Countrywide Home Loans Inc. allegations of overcharging.

The settlement with Countrywide, doing business as America's Wholesale Lender, for a civil penalty of $401,750 and a $100,000 donation to Neighbor Works was announced Wednesday by Governor M. Jodi Rell and Banking Commissioner Howard F. Pitkin.

Connecticut said its investigation determined the Calabasas, Calif.-based lender imposed prepaid finance charges in excess of the 5 percent or $2,000 state maximum between October 2001 and August 2005. The wholesale unit allegedly made 111 loans in excess of the maximum.

In addition, Countrywide allegedly employed or retained 147 unregistered originators, the state said.

All overcharges were refunded, management of unregistered originators has been tightened and employees have received training for the state's prepaid finance worksheet, according to the announcement.

"Countrywide has worked hard to repay and make whole any and all harmed individuals,” Commissioner Howard F. Pitkin commented.

Countrywide agreed with the state of New York to change lending practices for minority borrowers after federal home loan data suggested they received more high-cost loans than whites, the Office of the New York State Attorney General announced in December.

Under that agreement, Countrywide would "substantially" enhance fair lending monitoring activities, compensate borrowers who were improperly given certain costly loans, and implement a $3 million consumer education program to enable borrowers to make informed choices about mortgage products.

In October, Countywide was sued over a $30 courier fee it charged in Illinois.

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