Regions

BofA's legal costs rise because of Countrywide deal- report

December 27
7:19 AM 2013

Bank of America and analysts predict that its legal fees related to its acquisition of Countrywide Financial Corp will still increase by billions more, the Los Angeles Times reported. Although a federal judge will still decide how much BofA will pay for some of the wrongdoings of Countrywide, the report said any penalty that the lender will pay will simply be a mere drop in BofA's bucket of legal bills, with much of it stemming from its ill-fated 2008 purchase of the mortgage lender.

BofA was found liable for a Countrywide program known as "The Hustle" which processed risky home loans and later sold them to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Federal prosecutors are asking Bofa to pay $864 million as a result.  

The lender has already shouldered loan and foreclosure losses, legal defense costs and lawsuit settlements and investigations amounting to $50 billion because of its Countrywide acquisition just before the housing market went bust. The report said the amount is 20 times the purchase price of $2.5 billion in stock that BofA paid for what was then the No.1 home lender in America.

An additional exposure of $23 billion has already been projected by BofA to cover legal expenses and costs related to repurchasing or making good on faulty mortgages, the report said. This is apart from the undisclosed reserves that the bank has set aside for legal expenses.    

George Washington University Law Professor Jeffrey Manns told the Los Angeles Times, "It was one of the worst deals done in the height of the property fiasco. This is a deal they went into because they were greedy ... where they saw the upside of the shady practices Countrywide was engaged in."

BofA said it could file an appeal for the jury's verdict in a New York civil fraud case. The lender has asked the judge to levy no penalties, saying that fines would be detrimental to the bank's innocent shareholders, the report said. 

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