U.S. banks and state attorneys general, seeking to avoid $17 billion in court claims over faulty foreclosures, are discussing a settlement framework that may let firms choose from a menu of options for helping borrowers, two people briefed on the talks said.
Under the proposal, Bank of America Corp., Wells Fargo & Co., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc. and Ally Financial Inc. would pay penalties and pledge billions of dollars in relief to home buyers, one of the people said, asking not to be named because the talks are private. Firms may fulfill obligations to borrowers over time, choosing among options such as reducing loan principal, cutting fees or paying moving costs, the people said.
Stitching flexibility into settlements may help defuse opposition from a group of Republican attorneys general, who object to principal reductions sought by other states, one of the people said. The pace of talks is accelerating, with parties also nearing agreement on an industrywide overhaul of procedures for handling mortgages, that person said.
State and federal officials have been meeting with the largest U.S. loan servicers to resolve a nationwide probe into documentation lapses during home seizures. Earlier this week, attorneys general told the banks they will face an estimated $17 billion in claims if the inquiries result in civil lawsuits, according to a person with knowledge of the talks. The banks had previously offered to pay $5 billion.
Under the proposal, banks would pay the penalties to the states, which would determine how to use the funds...
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