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$335m to settle claim of Countrywide bias

The Justice Department announced the largest residential fair-lending settlement in history yesterday, saying that Bank of America had agreed to pay $335 million to settle allegations that its Countrywide Financial unit discriminated against black and Hispanic borrowers during the housing boom.

A department investigation concluded that Countrywide had charged higher fees and rates to more than 200,000 minority borrowers than to white borrowers who posed the same credit risk. It also steered more than 10,000 minority borrowers into costly subprime mortgages when white borrowers with similar credit profiles received prime loans, the department said. The pattern and practice covered 2004 to 2008, before Bank of America bought Countrywide.

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