The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced a $4.5 million settlement with Fidelity national Financial Inc. (FNF) to settle alleged RESPA violations related to improper kickbacks or referral fees paid to real estate brokers and other service providers.

In agreeing to the settlement, FNF agreed to pay the fine and cease the alleged widespread practices in violation of RESPA rules.

“RESPA is very clear that paying fees or providing anything of value for the simple act of referring business is a violation of law,” said Acting FHA Commissioner Robert Ryan. “This agreement should be a signal to others that these business practices won’t be tolerated.”

According to the allegations from HUD, FNF subsidiaries paid real estate brokerages a fee for each referral of real estate settlement services entered through their TransactionPoint web-based platform designed to automate the real estate transaction. 

The actions were considered to be a violation of Section 8 of RESPA that specifically prohibit the offering or accepting of anything of value in exchange for referring business to a specific service provider.