Fidelity settles with HUD over mortgage kickback claims
The Department of Housing and Urban Development struck a $4.5 million settlement with Fidelity National Financial over claims the title company paid real estate brokers kickbacks and referral fees in violation of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act. Section 8 of RESPA prohibits anyone from giving or receiving anything of value in exchange for referring settlement service business. HUD claimed FNF and it subsidiaries paid real estate brokers for referring services such as home warranties and title insurance for several years. FNF denied the allegations, claiming payments were made for the use a software platform and that no charges were passed on to consumers. According to HUD, the brokers gained access to the platform known as TransactionPoint, which automated the real estate transaction from listing to close. The brokers would then allegedly enable FNF subsidiaries to be listed on the platform as a service provider. FNF agreed to cease the practice of paying real estate brokers that place orders via the software platform for title insurance and other services. "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 Bob Ryan. "This agreement should be a signal to others that these business practices won’t be tolerated." Write to Jon Prior. Follow him on Twitter @JonAPrior.