London-based HSBC Holdings Plc is rumored to be in talks to finally resolve a U.S. probe into its sale of toxic mortgage bonds that date back to the financial crisis, according to an article in Bloomberg by Tom Schoenberg.
Besides settling a problem from a decade ago, the article added the settlement could give an early look at how the Trump adminstration's Justice Department will deal with global banks.
The talks are still in the early stages, however, with a resolution, if one can be reached, weeks or even months away, people close to the matter were cited saying.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions last month issued a department-wide memo requiring settlement funds to be paid to the U.S. Treasury or to victims. The prior cases allowed billions of dollars in penalties to be paid through consumer relief measures — mortgage modifications, repayment plans and short sales, among other remedies. The Justice Department hasn’t said whether those so-called soft-dollar portions of the penalties will be allowed under the new policy.
The talks show that Justice Department lawyers — primarily operating from U.S. attorney offices — continue to push forward with outstanding mortgage bond cases left over from the Obama administration. However, it’s unclear how involved the new Justice Department leadership is in those efforts.
HSBC only recently shut the door on a separate government settlement that also dealt with mortgages originated during the crisis. Back in February 2016, HSBC agreed to a $601 million settlement with a series of federal agencies and nearly every state over charges that the bank engaged in mortgage origination, servicing and foreclosure abuses.
Joseph Smith, monitor of the National Mortgage Settlement, announced at the beginning on June that HSBC officially completed its obligations under the National Mortgage Settlement. Under the settlement, Smith said HSBC provided more than $371 million in consumer relief.