Mortgage Company To Pay $2.1 Billion To Resolve Complaints

, The Connecticut Law Tribune

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One of the nation's largest mortgage servicing companies has agreed to pay $2.1 billion in a joint state-federal settlement that could be worth more than $40 million to Connecticut borrowers.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and 49 state attorneys general announced that Atlanta-based Ocwen Financial Corp. and its subsidiary Ocwen Loan Servicing pushed borrowers into foreclosure through illegal actions, such as failing to promptly and accurately credit mortgage payments.

The company also miscalculated interest rates and charged borrowers improper fees.

Under the agreement, Ocwen also will refund a combined $125 million to about 185,000 borrowers who had been foreclosed on from 2009 to 2012.

Connecticut borrowers will receive an estimated $39,789,256 in principal reductions through the settlement. Additionally, consumers holding 1,612 loans will be eligible to receive a cash payment. The exact payment amount is contingent on the number of borrowers who submit valid claims.

The principal reductions will go to families who are in default or at imminent risk of default. Thus, the benefits will be targeted to those who are most at risk and stand the greatest chance of avoiding foreclosure as a result of this relief.

Ocwen is the country's fourth largest mortgage servicer and specializes in servicing high-risk mortgage loans.

"We believe that Ocwen violated federal consumer financial laws at every stage of the mortgage servicing process," Richard Cordray, director of the national Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, said in a conference call with the media. "We have concluded that Ocwen made troubled borrowers even more vulnerable to foreclosure."

Ocwen said in a statement it was pleased to have reached the settlement. The agreement, the company said, "is in alignment with the same ultimate goals that we share with the regulators—to prevent foreclosures and help struggling families keep their homes."

The settlement, pending approval from a federal court in Washington, D.C., also requires Ocwen to change the way it manages mortgages. Specifically, the company must stop "robo-signing," or automatically signing off on foreclosure documents without proper review. Officials said the practice was also employed by two companies later acquired by Ocwen: Homeward Residential Inc. and Litton Home Servicing LP.

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