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US files $834 million lawsuit against Allied Home Mortgage

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Federal officials filed a lawsuit Tuesday against Allied Home Mortgage Capital and two of its senior officials, seeking to recover $834 million in damages stemming from allegedly fraudulent mortgage insurance claims. Allied President and CEO Jim Hodge and Executive Vice President Jeanne Stell were named as defendants, along with the company as a whole. The lawsuit was filed under the False Claims Act. The complaint, filed by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said Allied originated mortgages out of "shadow branches" the company never disclosed to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, among other allegations of violating HUD requirements. From 2001 to 2010, Allied originated 112,324 HUD-sponsored loans, 35,801 of which have since defaulted including 6,404 in the first six months of the loan. Allied is no longer a HUD-approved lender. Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney in Manhattan, said during a Tuesday press conference that Allied officials told regulators that defaults were not typical. "Today, Allied's business as usual comes to an end," Bharara said. Allied also allegedly "operated its branches like franchises," the complaint said, "requiring branch managers to assume financial responsibility." Under HUD requirements, the complaint said Allied should have paid operating costs of each branch. Bharara said officials continue to investigate Allied, and did not rule out future criminal charges. "The fact that there's a criminal complaint does not preclude the other," Bharara said HUD, through its Federal Housing Administration, insures lenders against losses on mortgages. The FHA insures about one-third of all new residential mortgages, and HUD assumes ownership of properties that have been foreclosed. Write to Andrew Scoggin. Follow him on Twitter @ascoggin.

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