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Goldman Sachs reaches $5 billion settlement over toxic mortgage bond claims

Settlement reached with federal RMBS task force

Goldman Sachs said Thursday that it reached a $5 billion settlement over claims related to toxic mortgage bonds sold to investors in the run up to the financial crisis.

Rumors of a massive settlement between Goldman Sachs and the federal government over faulty mortgage bonds first began circulating in June 2015.

At the time, it was expected that the settlement could come within weeks. Instead, it took more than six months to reach an accord with the government.

Goldman Sachs announced Thursday that it reached an agreement to resolve the ongoing investigation into its pre-crisis mortgage business brought by the Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities Working Group of the U.S. Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force.

The agreement, which would still need to be finalized, would resolve actual and potential civil claims by the U.S. Department of Justice; the New York and Illinois Attorneys General; the National Credit Union Administration, acting as conservator for several failed credit unions; and the Federal Home Loan Banks of Chicago and Seattle, relating to the firm’s securitization, underwriting and sale of residential mortgage-backed securities from 2005 to 2007.

Under the terms of the settlement, Goldman Sachs will pay $2.385 billion civil monetary penalty, make $875 million in cash payments and provide $1.8 billion in consumer relief.

According to a release from Goldman Sachs, the consumer relief will be in the form of principal forgiveness for underwater homeowners and distressed borrowers; financing for construction, rehabilitation and preservation of affordable housing; and support for debt restructuring, foreclosure prevention and housing quality improvement programs, as well as land banks.

Goldman Sachs said that the settlement would reduce its earnings for the fourth quarter of 2015 by approximately $1.5 billion on an after-tax basis.

“We are pleased to have reached an agreement in principle to resolve these matters,” Lloyd Blankfein, chairman and chief executive officer of The Goldman Sachs Group, said.

Goldman Sachs’ release noted that the agreement in principle is subject to the negotiation of definitive documentation, adding that there can be “no assurance” that the company, the U.S. Department of Justice and the other applicable governmental authorities will agree on the definitive documentation.

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