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Originally published Wednesday, December 4, 2013 at 5:39 PM

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Mortgage relief tests: 3 banks failed, monitor says

Three of the biggest U.S. lenders failed this year to meet some requirements for giving relief to struggling homeowners in a $25 billion settlement over foreclosure abuses, according to an official.


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WASHINGTON —

Three of the biggest U.S. lenders failed this year to meet some requirements for giving relief to struggling homeowners in a $25 billion settlement over foreclosure abuses, according to an official.

The monitor overseeing the settlement said in a report issued Wednesday that Bank of America Corp., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Citigroup Inc. together failed to meet seven of the 29 requirements tested in the first half of the year.

The failures include requirements to notify borrowers of any missing documents in mortgage modification applications within five days of receipt and to give borrowers accurate information before foreclosure is started. Monitor Joseph Smith said the banks had taken steps to correct the errors.

"We proactively addressed the monitor's findings and are pleased that he determined our corrective action plan is complete," JPMorgan spokeswoman Amy Bonitatibus said. "While we satisfied our consumer relief requirements in May, we continue to provide mortgage relief to struggling families across the country."

Citigroup said in a statement that it "remains committed to fulfilling the terms of the national mortgage settlement for the best interests of its clients." The New York bank said it became aware of some problems in May and began taking corrective action.

Spokesman Dan Frahm said Charlotte, N.C.-based Bank of America, "has worked diligently to comply with more than 300 servicing standards set out in the national mortgage settlement, and to ensure that our customers in need of assistance know they are being treated fairly and receiving timely and accurate decisions with respect to any relief they are seeking."

The three banks, Wells Fargo & Co. and ResCap Parties (formerly Ally Financial and GMAC) agreed in the settlement with the federal government and 49 states to provide relief to borrowers such as reducing interest rates and monthly payments. The February 2012 settlement ended a painful chapter of the financial crisis, when home values sank and millions of homeowners edged toward foreclosure. Some mortgage-servicing companies had processed foreclosures without verifying documents.

Of the $25 billion in relief called for by the settlement, Smith has verified that the five banks provided $15.3 billion last year. The banks say they have fully met their obligations.



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