Deutsche Bank lending practices called reckless in $1 billion lawsuit
Officials from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Attorney in Manhattan plan to file a mortgage fraud lawsuit Tuesday against Deutsche Bank claiming reckless lending practices at its Mortgage IT unit. Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, alleges in the civil suit that the German banking giant and its mortgage-lending unit "repeatedly lied" to gain access to a government program. Then the bank "recklessly selected mortgages that violated program rules in blatant disregard of whether borrowers could make mortgage payments." The lawsuit seeks damages of $1 billion. A spokeswoman for Deutsche Bank wasn't immediately available. The U.S. attorney said the bank profited from the resale of the government-backed mortgages, while "thousands of American homeowners have faced default and eviction" and the government has paid hundreds of millions in insurance claims. "The fallout from the mortgage lending crisis continues," according to Anthony Michael Sabino, an economics professor at St. John's University in Queens, New York. "The allegations here are particularly troublesome, because they claim that the bank deliberately fed misinformation to government agencies in order to procure insurance. Not only would monetary damages be severe, it would impact the bank’s lending business and reputation for the foreseeable future." Sabino said the news of the lawsuit is enough to bring "an indeterminable amount of damage to Deutsche Bank's reputation." "This is another case of corporate wrongdoing," he said. "And when the U.S. Attorney in Manhattan brings this type of case, the average citizen sees the headline and thinks 'Hey, the government is really serious about this.'" Write to Jason Philyaw.