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Wed Jan 9, 2013 5:42AM

That's what it’s going to cost Bank of America -- Wells Fargo -- and other banking giants to make the accusations go away -- massive allegations of foreclosure and mortgage fraud in the wake of the worldwide financial meltdown. About three and a half billion will go to homeowners who had their homes erroneously snatched out from under them -- but experts say its not even nearly enough. All of the banks named in the settlement received taxpayer-funded bailouts during the financial crisis. It's money that many -- like Bank of America -- used to step up its foreclosure processes on the same taxpayers that bailed it out -- part of what prompted massive Occupy protests. Banks such as the Royal Bank of Scotland and HSBC recently bought their way out of interest-tampering and money-laundering charges with multi-billion dollar settlements as well. No criminal charges were filed in any of the cases. So high-level skullduggery -- billions in fines paid. New Yorkers here in Times Square that we talked to -- however -- say that for these big banks -- it's just the cost of doing business. They say if you want to do the crime -- you ought to do some time. Bank of America will pay the most due to a separate settlement with US pseudo-governmental mortgage giant Fannie Mae -- where Bank of America will have to buy back billions in bad mortgages it sold. But the billions in fines won't put much of a damper on the profitability of the banks -- which are expected to roll profitably into the future -- having bought their way out of criminal liability.
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